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International OECD Study Shows a Quality, Dynamic and Committed Teaching Force in Singapore

Singapore has given priority to building a quality teaching force that is well-trained and supported, dynamic in its practice, and committed to the profession. This is based on the findings from the Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) 2013 by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Prior to sending teachers to the classrooms, Singapore provides them teacher education and training. Subsequently, throughout their career, teachers are well-supported in professional development, so that they continue upgrading their skills and deepening their competencies as teachers.

We also have a relatively younger teaching force due to the significant increase in the number of teachers in recent years. The younger teachers complement the depth and expertise of more experienced teachers who continue to be valued, and who provide professional support and mentoring for the Beginning Teachers.

Principals and teachers attest to a strong collaborative school culture characterised by mutual support. Teachers also reported a firm belief that the teaching profession is valued in the Singapore society, that they were satisfied with their job, and would still choose to be a teacher if they were to decide again.

Reflecting on the TALIS findings, Ms Ho Peng, Director-General of Education said, “A key factor for the success of our education system is the quality of our teachers. This has been painstakingly built up since the early 2000s. Teachers are key to the delivery of quality learning experiences for all our students. Ensuring that our teachers are competent and professional is critical, to bring out the best in every student and prepare him or her to meet future challenges. We have put in place strong professional development support so that our teachers can hone their craft and upgrade their teaching skills throughout their career as educators. I am proud to see the strong professionalism of our teachers and the strong culture of mentorship in our schools. Our teachers also take ownership of their professional growth and actively participate in professional development, with the strong support of our school leaders. We will continue to look for ways to support our teaching force to enable them to do their best for our students.”

Key Findings Strong teacher preparation enables quality teaching and learning

TALIS 2013 findings show that Singapore has one of the highest proportions of teachers who have been trained in actual classroom practices before becoming full-fledged teachers (98%, compared to TALIS average of 89%). Our teachers get a good head start in their teaching career through pre-service teacher education. The National Institute of Education equips our teachers with knowledge of the learning process and a repertoire of pedagogical skills and classroom moves to help students learn. The proportion of teachers who have received systematic training in content and pedagogy for the subjects that they are deployed to teach are also well above the averages across participating education systems in TALIS. This investment in the initial preparation of our teachers gives our teachers a strong foundation for their first years as Beginning Teachers.

Active participation in, and strong support for, professional growth throughout career

Singapore provides substantial opportunities for teachers to grow professionally throughout their career. Induction and mentoring programmes support Beginning Teachers in transiting from pre-service training to their full responsibilities as teachers in our schools. Formal induction programmes are available to virtually all new teachers to schools, compared to the TALIS average of 44%. These include the Beginning Teachers’ Orientation Programme and the school-based Structured Mentoring Programme 1. Besides customised professional learning opportunities offered beyond their schools, Beginning Teachers also learn various practical skills through the mentoring process by experienced teachers within their schools. This ensures that the quality of teaching and learning for all our students is maintained.

As our teachers grow in their profession, they continue to learn to keep abreast of new and effective ways of teaching, learning and assessment. Almost all Singapore teachers take part in professional development activities (98%). This participation rate is the highest among all TALIS countries (TALIS average is 88%). MOE provides significant support for the professional development of our teachers. Nine in 10 have benefited from these professional development activities at no personal expense, compared to two-thirds in other countries.

The variety of professional development activities that our teachers participate in include: education courses and workshops, peer observations, education conferences and professional learning networks. Most of our teachers collaborate in professional learning teams (94%, compared to TALIS average of 84%). 80% of our teachers have sat in classrooms to observe how their colleagues teach and provide feedback (TALIS average is 55%). A high proportion of principals and teachers also attest to a collaborative school culture that is characterised by mutual support and collaborative learning. Nearly half of our teachers also participate in some form of educational inquiry and research in a topic of their own interest, well above the TALIS average of about a third. This is a healthy reflection of our teachers’ ownership of their learning and the depth of teacher leadership.

A teacher workforce that is well-trained and dynamic

Singapore has put in place deliberate and sustained teacher recruitment efforts since the early 2000s to rejuvenate and expand our teaching force. This has resulted in a well-trained and highly professional teaching force made up of both young and experienced teachers, collaboratively learning from one another and building on one another’s strengths. This is one strong enabling factor that has helped our students enjoy a high quality of teaching and learning in our schools.

The average age of Singapore teachers is 36, compared to 43 across TALIS participating countries. Our young teachers inject diverse perspectives and renewed energy into the teaching force. They contribute to innovative ways to engage students in the learning of 21st century competencies and in harnessing the potential of new technologies for teaching and learning. Supporting our young teachers is essential to helping them succeed: our young teachers acquire the necessary skills and knowledge early in their career from well-structured pre-service, induction and mentoring programmes, and are systematically matched to experienced teachers who guide them in the art of teaching and building rapport with their students.

There is a strong mentorship culture in Singapore schools. Among TALIS countries, Singapore has the highest proportion of teachers serving as mentors (39%, compared to TALIS average of 14%). Our experienced teachers serve as role models and mentors and play a critical role in deepening less experienced teachers’ understanding of the ethos of the teaching profession and the importance of nurturing the whole child.

Our teachers believe that teachers are valued, are satisfied with their job and would still choose to be a teacher if they were to decide again

Most Singapore teachers believe that the teaching profession is respected and valued in the Singapore society (68%, compared to TALIS average of 31%). Our teachers are satisfied with their job (88%, comparable to TALIS average of 91%), and most of our teachers would still choose to be a teacher if they were to decide again (82%, compared to TALIS average of 78%). The number of hours that Singapore teachers spend on a variety of work-related tasks is comparable with the TALIS average. Over the years, MOE has also taken steps to ease their administrative duties and support them in various functions so that they can focus more on teaching and learning. We will continue to monitor the workload of our teachers and support them to have a fulfilling job and a rewarding career.

Background

TALIS is an international study by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) which aims to provide internationally comparable information to help countries review policies for developing a high-quality teaching profession. The perception study targeted teachers teaching lower secondary levels and their principals.

TALIS 2013 is the second cycle of the study after its inception in 2008. This is the first time Singapore is participating in the study. A total of 3,109 teachers and their principals from 159 secondary schools in Singapore were randomly selected to participate in the survey. The sample is representative of the lower secondary teacher population in Singapore. A total of 34 education systems participated in TALIS 2013.

Annex Footnote
  1. The Structured Mentoring Programme pairs beginning teachers with experienced teacher mentors. The programme enables beginning teachers to learn practical knowledge and skills in teaching, learning and classroom management and deepen their understanding about the ethos and values of the teaching profession.

Speech by Mr Heng Swee Keat at the ITE Graduation Ceremony 2014

Introduction

A very good afternoon to all of you. I am very happy to be here with you today to celebrate the graduation and achievements of our ITE students. Let me first extend my warmest congratulations to all our graduating students. We are here today because you have persevered to pursue your aspirations.

While you celebrate this important milestone, let us not forget to thank those who have supported you on your journey - your families, friends, lecturers and mentors. I am especially glad to see many parents here this afternoon to witness your children’s graduation. Parents, I congratulate you too, for having taken this journey together with your children. Their success owes much to your support.

Multiple Roads To Success

Earlier this year, I shared in Parliament that one of the key goals of education is to bring out the best in every child, in every domain of learning, in every school, at every stage of the learning journey, whatever the starting point. The Government is committed to providing opportunities for every child to succeed.

Every child is different. In terms of learning style, aptitude or inclination, no two are the same - even if they are from the same family. We should not assume that one person’s journey to success is the same path that all must take. This means that society, and all of us, must not expect that the routes others travel by must be the one we take to get to our destination. We must each find our own right path. There are multiple roads to success.

ITE exemplifies MOE’s endeavour to provide diverse pathways that cater to our students’ aspirations, needs and talents. I am happy that ITE has grown from strength to strength since its inception in 1992. It has been transformed from an institution that provides basic vocational training to one which is recognised today as one of the best vocational education institutions worldwide. In fact, this beautiful new campus that we are in right now represents the pride and stature of ITE today.

Through its ‘Hands-on, Minds-on, Hearts-on’ philosophy, ITE has transformed many young lives by securing their futures with a strong foundation in skills.

The Path ITE Opens For You

As an ITE graduate today, you have a bright future ahead of you because of the skills you have acquired and the attitudes that you have developed while pursuing the course. There are many signs that the road ahead of you is a good one. ITE’s industry-relevant approach to education continues to be validated by our employers. Over 90% of employers gave strong endorsement of ITE graduates’ skills and competencies in the 2013 Survey on Employers’ Assessment of ITE graduates.

Employers complimented ITE graduates for having good hands-on skills and positive attitudes - a willingness to learn, diligence, and a sense of responsibility. With relevant skills, nine in ten ITE graduates continue to secure employment within six months of their graduation.

There are many examples of ITE alumni who show how the skills acquired here have enabled graduands like yourselves to excel. Desmond Ng, who enrolled in the Nitec in Aerospace Technology, is one such example.

Desmond has been working with the prestigious Rolls-Royce Corporation since he graduated in December 2012. His education at ITE enabled him to perform in his job and he emerged as the Best Trainee in his trainee technician cohort. His employers recognised his skills and potential and nominated him for further training in specialised engines, giving him the opportunity to train in the Rolls-Royce factory in Derby, UK. Desmond’s success and that of many others like him is testament to the fact that ITE imparts industry-relevant skills and supports high employability for students who use those skills to their advantage. Be proud of the skills you have received here. With the right attitude and spirit, there is so much that you can achieve.

Under ASPIRE, the ongoing review of applied study in our polytechnics and ITE, chaired by Senior Minister of State for Education, Ms Indranee Rajah, we have discussed how to further enhance the skills you have received with our institutions, employers and relevant government agencies. Employers see the importance of honing them in students and in helping strengthen skills-based training. We will continue to work with companies to better facilitate authentic learning opportunities through more structured work attachments for our students. We want these experiences to be meaningful for you.

But just as we continue enhancing this skills-based pathway, you must carry on the journey, each one of you taking responsibility for your future. Though this graduation ceremony marks the end of your education at ITE, it is just the start of the next phase of a life-long learning journey. Each of you must develop the flexibility to adapt, learn new skills and explore career possibilities. We must all learn new skills throughout our lifetime to stay relevant. I hope that every one of you will continue to build on the foundations that you have established through your education here at ITE.

Roads That Diverge

As a society, we must strengthen this focus on professional skills. Together, we must chart different pathways where students are recognised and rewarded for their efforts and performance.

Another ITE graduate, John Kartigan, demonstrates how the skills-based education at ITE has enabled graduates to discover their own way. John joined the pioneer batch of Higher Nitec in Marine & Offshore Technology students in April 2008. He graduated in March 2010 as one of its top students, and then joined Keppel FELS as a Technical Associate. He rose through the ranks to become a well-regarded Supervisor.

After two years, having deepened his skills in the industry, John went on to study further. He is currently pursuing a part-time Diploma in Engineering (Marine) at Ngee Ann Polytechnic under a Keppel Offshore & Marine (KOM) Sponsorship and is doing very well.

The key learning point is this - John worked first to become clearer about his strengths and interests, before he then upgraded more meaningfully and effectively. He discovered his interest and strengths at Keppel as a diligent employee, earning meaningful work experience. Many of you will discover that it is better to invest in further education that you know makes sense for you and your career - and often, many of us only know this after we start working and trying out the particular fields. What is your path? Many of your parents will agree that when you reach this phase of life, the roads have started to diverge, and you have to make choices. You must discover it yourself, through personal and professional development. Take the time to explore the world of work and continue learning on the job and even beyond.

Lifelong Learning, Keep On Walking

There is still so much ahead of you. Today, amongst your batch of graduands, there are people who embody this spirit of lifelong learning, and have demonstrated resilience and drive as they progress in their fields.

I would like to speak about a special graduand. I had invited her to MOE’s Work Plan Seminar in 2012 because she is such a source of inspiration. Liaw Lay Kian is a Nitec in Nursing graduate who enrolled for her Nitec at age 50. Today she graduates at age 52 - 3 times most of you. Having cared for her bed-bound father-in-law for 16 years and her ailing husband for 10 months before he passed away, Lay Kian understands what patients and their families struggle with.

Lay Kian’s passion for palliative care nursing eventually prompted her to volunteer at Dover Park Hospice. To ensure she could do more for her patients, Lay Kian took up a Nursing course at ITE.

It was not smooth-sailing from the start. The last time Lay Kian took a major exam was in 1978, the last time she worked was in 1989. It was difficult to start studying at her age but at 52 years old, she remained undaunted. Her efforts saw her achieving an almost perfect GPA of 3.94.

Today, Lay Kian is working at Dover Park Hospice while waiting for her Diploma in Nursing course to begin in October. She aspires to be a competent palliative care nurse. I am pleased that Lay Kian is receiving the Tay Eng Soon Gold Medal today, and I wish her every success in pursuing her passion, and she will continue to serve as an inspiration to all of our students.

Lay Kian demonstrates a sense of determination and resilience that is very inspiring. This quality is more important than any paper qualification that you want to have. At her age, she continued learning, even when it was difficult. Adversity and hardship are an unavoidable part of life’s journey. But pressing on step by step is the way one forges their pathway and moves forward. Persevere and you will succeed. Relearning new skills is never easy, but Lay Kian shows us that personal determination and resilience can make it possible.

Conclusion

Many of you are like Lay Kian in your own way. We celebrate you and how far you have come. Today, as you graduate and face the next leg of your journey, you have earned a significant gift - an excellent skills-based foundation for your future. We at MOE, your lecturers and mentors at ITE, as well as your parents are excited for you. Chart your own pathways smartly, persevere to achieve success. Your future is in your hands.

Once again, my heartiest congratulations to all graduands, award recipients and your families. I wish you all the best in your journey forward.

Thank you.

2014 Primary One Registration Exercise (For Admission to Primary One in 2015)

The registration of children for admission to Primary One (P1) classes in 2015 will open from Thursday, 3 July 2014 to Thursday, 28 August 2014. The dates for the different phases of registration are listed in Annex A.

All primary schools will open for registration from 8.00 am to 11.00 am and from 2.30 pm to 4.30 pm from Mondays to Fridays during the registration period. Details on the list of primary schools and vacancies available, as well as a list of registration centres for merging and relocating schools, can be found on the P1 Registration website at http://www.moe.gov.sg/education/admissions/primary-one-registration/.

The cohort size for 2015 is similar to that of 2014. There will be sufficient school places for all eligible P1 students on a regional and nationwide basis.

40 Places Reserved to Ensure Continued Open Access to All Primary Schools

Starting from the 2014 P1 Registration Exercise, the Ministry of Education (MOE) will reserve 40 places in every primary school for registrants in Phase 2B and 2C (20 places for each phase) before the start of the P1 Registration Exercise to ensure continued open access to all primary schools.

The number of vacancies remaining after Phase 2A(2) (this includes the 40 reserved places) will continue to be split equally between Phase 2B and 2C. For more details on the reservation of 40 places, please refer to Annex B.

Primary One Internet System (P1-IS) for Online Registration

This year, MOE will open the Primary One Internet System (P1-IS) to all primary schools. The P1-IS serves as an alternate channel to facilitate the registration of children during Phase 2C and 2C Supplementary. Parents who do not wish to make an online registration can continue to go to their school of choice for registration.

To register online via the P1-IS, both parents are required to use their SingPass1. For a Step-by-Step Guide on doing an online registration, please refer to http://www.moe.gov.sg/education/admissions/primary-one-registration/primary-one-internet-system/. The P1-IS is accessible 24 hours during the following periods:

  • Phase 2C - Starting from 9.00 am on 29 July 2014 to 4.30 pm on 31 July 2014; and

  • Phase 2C Supplementary - Starting from 9.00 am on 10 August 2014 to 4.30 pm on 12 August 2014.

Compulsory Education

Under the Compulsory Education Act, Singapore Citizens born after 1 January 1996 and residing in Singapore are required to attend national primary schools. Children born between 2 January 2008 and 1 January 2009 (both dates inclusive), have to be registered at this year’s P1 Registration Exercise for admission to P1 in January 2015.

If a child is assessed as being not ready or suitable for P1 on medical grounds, a parent may seek approval from the Compulsory Education Unit for deferment of registration. Application can be made using the relevant form available on the MOE website or obtained the form from the MOE Customer Service Centre at 1 North Buona Vista Drive Singapore 138675 (Tel: 6872-2220).

Any queries on Compulsory Education may be directed to MOE Compulsory Education Unit at Email: moe_ce@moe.edu.sg or Fax: 6778-9356.

Registration Procedures

Parents registering their children under Phase 1 may submit the registration form and relevant documents through the older sibling who will be given the form by the school. For registration under Phase 2A(1) to Phase 3, a parent or a person authorised by the parent in writing, can submit the registration form and relevant documents at the school of choice. Each child should be registered at only one school at any one time. If the child is registered at more than one school, he may lose his place in the school of choice.

Non-Singapore Citizen/Non-Permanent Resident children born between 2 January 2008 and 1 January 2009 may apply to a school with vacancy during Phase 3 of the Exercise.

False Information

Any registrant found to have provided false information during the P1 Registration Exercise will be referred to the Police for investigation. A child who is successfully registered in a school based on false information given will be transferred to another school with available vacancies after all eligible children have been registered.

Other Information

Parents can find out more about the documents required for registration, including registration for overseas Singaporeans through the P1 Registration Exercise website (http://www.moe.gov.sg/education/admissions/primary-one-registration/).

Information on the P1 Registration Exercise is also available as an insert of the Primary School Education Booklet, which is distributed to kindergartens and childcare centres. The Primary School Education Booklet and its insert can also be found on http://www.moe.gov.sg/education/primary/files/primary-school-education-booklet.pdf and http://www.moe.gov.sg/education/primary/files/primary-one-registration-insert-2014.pdf.

Parents can also refer to the infographic in Annex C for the different phases and dates of the P1 Registration Exercise 2014.

Footnote:
  1. To apply for or reset your SingPass, please go to: http://www.singpass.gov.sg/sppubsvc/

Speech by Ms Sim Ann at the Inter-Religious Organisation, Singapore (IRO) Inter-Faith Fellowship for Religious Leaders 2014

I am honoured to be here today, in the presence of many of Singapore’s prominent religious leaders from the 10 different faiths. As is often said, sharing a meal is one of the best ways for people to get to know and bond with one another, so I am glad that this is but the latest of many such dinners organised by the IRO.

All too often we read in the news about religious conflicts shattering the peace and affecting people’s lives. A report released by the Pew Research Centre in Jan 2014 found that religious hostilities have increased in every major region of the world except the Americas (as of 2012). To name just a few, there is the outright war in Syria, recent conflict in Iraq and recurring tensions in countries such as India and Myanmar, and the current terrorist threat that most countries face.

Singapore’s own history has hard-wired in all of us here the necessity of religious tolerance. In particular, those who have lived through the tumultuous 1950s and 1960s will know that the state of religious harmony we enjoy today is not something that came about by accident.

In a multi-religious society, it is therefore critical that our different communities build strong bonds across religious lines. In this context, the Inter-Religious Organisation Singapore (IRO) has played a very important role. For many years, the IRO has functioned as a strong platform for religious leaders from the various faiths to come together to reaffirm their commitment to long-lasting peace and harmony in our country. Interfaith fellowships are necessary, to enhance understanding and to establish genuine friendships between the leaders and followers of the different religions in Singapore.

The regular interfaith dialogue amongst religious leaders is an effective method to prevent misunderstandings from occurring between the different religions. When IRO leaders convene, you do so not as strangers, but as friends and brothers and sisters in humanity. So when misunderstandings over religious issues arise - as it does from time to time - you will then be able to discuss the issue calmly, to find common ground and understanding through dialogue, and seek a peaceful resolution.

As religious leaders, you also serve as role models for your flocks. When Singaporeans see their religious leaders building bonds with leaders from other faiths, it is a catalyst for laymen of different faiths to also reach out to know and understand fellow Singaporeans of other faiths.

Over the years, the IRO has conducted myriad activities to deepen understanding between different religions and raise awareness of the importance of religious harmony. These include exhibitions, seminars, books, and even mass walks. I am told that more than 2,000 Singaporeans attended your Peace and Harmony Walk at East Coast Park in 2003. During Ramadan last year, the IRO-Singapore Buddhist Lodge’s joint charity project raised some $69,000 and 10 tonnes of rice, which were donated to all 69 mosques in Singapore. For Ramadan this year, the IRO-Singapore Buddhist Lodge has once again donated $69,000 to all 69 mosques, accompanied by 20 tonnes of rice for mosques and Muslim organisations to promote harmony between the different faiths in Singapore. This highlights the strong sense of camaraderie among the various faiths. Further, the IRO’s inter-faith blessings at the launches of both public and private institutions remind us that all religions have a stake in Singapore and seeing it progress. The IRO’s inter-faith prayers on disaster occasions remind us of our common humanity.

Earlier, I briefly mentioned the turmoil and conflict that is prevalent in so many other parts of the world. There have also been inspiring stories. Last week, in conjunction with the launch of the Studies in Inter-Religious Relationships in Plural societies (SRP) programme in RSIS by President Tony Tan, two distinguished foreign speakers, Sheikh Dr Ali Gomaa former Grand Mufti of Egypt, and Archbishop Dr Mouneer Hanna Annis, Bishop of the Anglican Church in Egypt, shared how Muslims in their country had not only defended Christian churches there from being attacked by Islamic extremists but also worked together to deliver essential healthcare services to the grassroots. In Singapore’s context, the IRO can complement the SRP by involving our youth in concrete areas of inter-faith collaboration that benefit the community and nation. This is in line with the vision of the founding fathers of the IRO who established it 65 years ago when there were virtually no inter-faith initiatives around. They, together with our Pioneer Generation, have bequeathed us this unique and precious gift of inter-religious harmony in Singapore. I hope that we - and future generations of Singaporeans - will never take it for granted but continue to build on it.

I thank the IRO for having played a major role in initiating interfaith dialogues in the country, and for organising another one today. I look forward to a meaningful evening of fellowship and a constructive exchange of opinions amongst the religious leaders present here today.

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Speech (in Malay) by Mr Hawazi Daipi at the Inter-School National Malay Scrabble competition

Pengenalan

Salam sejahtera saya ucapkan kepada Pengetua Sekolah Menengah Bishan Park, Puan Valerie Goh, para guru dan para pelajar sekalian.

Dalam kita melangkah ke era yang semakin canggih ini, profil anak didik kita juga semakin berubah. Oleh yang demikian, pembelajaran harus disesuaikan bukan sahaja mengikut profil para pelajar kita, tetapi mengambil kira minat dan kesediaan mereka. Bagaimanakah bentuk profil mereka yang berbeza? Yang pertama, adalah hakikat bahawa lebih ramai keluarga Melayu, termasuk para pelajar dan ibu bapa mereka, menggunakan Bahasa Inggeris sebagai bahasa basahan. Ini merupakan cabaran bagi para guru dan pendidik, dan juga para ibu bapa.

Kaedah pengajaran di sekolah harus disesuaikan dengan profil para pelajar yang sudah pun berubah. Matlamatnya juga harus berubah, iaitu untuk mendidik anak muda kita untuk fasih, gemar dan bangga menggunakan bahasa ibunda mereka. Antara strategi yang digunakan termasuklah penggunaan peralatan ICT yang dapat menggalakkan interaksi dalam pengajaran dan pembelajaran bahasa ibunda. Para pelajar pada masa kini lebih terdedah dengan bahan ICT. Oleh itu, para guru harus memberikan lebih banyak ruang dan peluang menggunakan ICT untuk menjadikan pengajaran dan pembelajaran Bahasa Melayu lebih menarik.

Penggunaan permainan terarah dalam pembelajaran juga merupakan satu kaedah alternatif yang mampu meraih matlamat yang serupa. Permainan bahasa seperti Sahibba pastinya akan dapat melibatkan pelajar secara aktif dalam pembelajaran. Kajian telah membuktikan bahawa para pelajar gemar akan pembelajaran yang melibatkan mereka secara langsung dalam aktiviti yang dirancang oleh guru seperti dalam permainan bahasa. Dalam permainan Sahibba, para pelajar akan cuba berfikir secara kritikal untuk menghasilkan perkataan-perkataan Melayu berdasarkan jubin-jubin yang telah disediakan. Bukan itu sahaja, pelajar juga perlu berfikir secara kreatif agar lokasi jubin-jubin itu memberikan peluang dan potensi untuk mereka mendapat markah yang setinggi mungkin. Segala proses kognitif ini pula berlangsung dalam suasana pertandingan yang sihat dan dalam keadaan yang dapat menyemai nilai-nilai murni.

Melihat pada apa yang berlaku pada petang ini, jelas sekali bahawa pertandingan ini telah berjaya mencapai matlamatnya. Para pelajar mampu menggunakan elemen bahasa dalam suasana pertandingan dan saya pasti, pembelajaran telah berjalan walaupun dalam suasana di luar bilik darjah yang tidak begitu formal. Saya juga dimaklumkan hampir seratus pelajar sekolah rendah yang telah mengambil bahagian pada awal pagi tadi. Bukan itu sahaja, pihak penganjur juga telah mengadakan satu kategori khas untuk para guru. Saya ingin mengucapkan syabas dan terima kasih kepada Cikgu Johan, Puan Valerie Goh, dan kakitangan sekolah serta guru-guru lain kerana mengambil daya usaha untuk menganjurkan pertandingan ini.

Sebelum saya akhiri ucapan saya, ingin saya tekankan bahawa dalam adat pertandingan, pasti ada yang kalah, dan pasti ada yang menang. Namun, apa yang lebih penting ialah sikap pelajar-pelajar kita yang harus sentiasa mempunyai rasa cinta akan bahasa ibunda. Kita boleh memulakannya dengan menggunakan bahasa ibunda atau Bahasa Melayu dengan sekerap mungkin seperti di kalangan rakan-rakan kita atau di luar bilik darjah dalam suasana yang tidak formal.

Akhir kata, terima kasih sekali lagi saya tujukan kepada Sekolah Menengah Bishan Park, kerana menganjurkan peraduan ini. Saya menghargai usaha yang dilakukan untuk mengadakan peraduan ini di peringkat nasional. Saya juga berharap MLLPC akan terus memberikan sokongan kepada daya usaha sebegini, dan sekolah-sekolah akan terus memberi peluang kepada para pelajar untuk mengasah kemahiran mereka dalam Bahasa Melayu. Saya akan akhirkan ucapan saya dengan sebuah pantun:

Burung kedidi terbang berdua, Hinggap sebentar di pucuk rumbia; Junjunglah tinggi bahasa ibunda, Majulah bahasa, majulah bangsa!

Terima kasih.

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Schools are turning to online courses to protect district revenues, build blended learning curricula, and prepare students to succeed in a digital world.

Speech by Mr Heng Swee Keat, at the Official Launch of Kidsstop, The Children's Science Centre

Igniting children’s interest in science from young

I am delighted to be here with you this evening. I share in the excitement of the launch of KidsSTOP, Singapore’s first-of-its-kind science centre for children, providing young ones with a place where they can Imagine, Experience, Discover and Dream.

KidsSTOP

KidsSTOP is a wonderful addition to our learning landscape. Kids love to play and run around. So it is nice to provide a one-stop place for them to pause and wonder about the marvels of science.

Designed for children from 18 months to 8 years old, KidsSTOP will spark their interest through interactive play. Themed zones such as Flight and Space Zone, Built Environment Zone and Innovation Lab let children discover through hands-on experience as well as activities. The KidsSTOP experience is designed to create a strong sense of wonder through play, deepening a child’s curiosity and interest.

KidsSTOP is a place where children can develop sharing, teamwork, consideration, effective problem solving and other social-emotional skills as they explore in teams around some of the exhibits.

In this safe and exciting environment, children can discover the world together with their parents and caregivers. Guiding our children on this journey are science communicators, many of whom are trained in early childhood.

Why Learn through Play?

The question is why learn through play? The astronomer Carl Sagan once said: “Every kid starts out as a natural-born scientist”. A sense of curiosity, and wonder about the universe is natural to children. At a young age, children perceive the world differently, and are very open to exploration. Our role at this stage is to help them nurture this sense of wonder and curiosity, and encourage their interest in finding out more.

To put it in another way, we should give them every opportunity to play. Play is more than just fun - it plays a vital role in a child’s development. Play helps young children to learn about the world around them, challenge themselves, build friendships, and imagine endless possibilities. Play feeds their natural curiosity about what makes the world work, and what is our place in it. As they “think with their hands”, and tinker with their environment, they are being stimulated.

KidsSTOP lets children learn scientific concepts in a fun way. Through play, science and related topics become accessible and natural to children, and children can start begin to be enthusiastic about these subjects from an early stage. Indeed, KidsSTOP also has a science education programme tailored for pre-schoolers.

Play is an especially good way for children to learn. This extends to the learning of the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects. Sometimes we think of these subjects as offering little room for play or creativity. But quite the contrary, the fundamentals of STEM are the same as those for playing, that is, innovation, curiosity, and a willingness to test new ideas. Taking part actively in STEM requires being comfortable with uncertainty and being open to possibilities. KidsSTOP will teach science through play by this “learning by doing” approach. This process of inquiry-based activities encourages children to experience and contextualise problem-solving.

I am happy that Science Centre will have rich early childhood education programmes, adopting Play with a strong educational goal. I understand that weekday morning sessions at KidsSTOP will be made available exclusively to schools for the booking of programmes and activities. Kindergarten teachers will be able to use the space creatively to complement course materials covered in the classroom. Science Centre will also be working closely with Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) to explore the possibility of conducting teacher’s training. Long term plans also include using the space and exhibits to test out new methods of learning and teaching of science through research projects and evaluation studies.

Let me also add that learning through play extends beyond childhood years. As a child progresses through education journey, he encounters more difficult concepts and more complex problems (as we do in life). This is when retaining the fundamentals of play are all the more important. It is about being able to apply what you have learnt in creative and playful ways - this is how we bring out abstract concepts to life, and excites the student that what he learns makes a difference in real life.

We have to make sure that curiosity, creativity and playfulness are retained throughout the learning journey, even as we keep the rigour in education. A meaningful way to do this is through tinker labs and tech labs because students can, from an early age, get used to playing and tinkering, building gadgets and prototypes. Other ways are mentoring programmes, learning journeys, attachments, and so on.

I am happy that MOE is keeping this spirit alive through the Applied Learning in the arts and sciences. Using innovative approaches to learning that emphasise not only concepts and skills, but also practical applications, real-world context, and connections across disciplines will help our students appreciate the relevance and value of what they are learning, keep their curiosity alive and motivate them to keep learning.

Playing for Life

Through facilities like KidsSTOP and opportunities in our schools and elsewhere, our hope is that the fundamental concepts of play and interest in STEM will lay a strong foundation for our children to become life-long learners. Creative thinking and innovation skills learnt through play and STEM exploration will help them adapt to a rapidly changing world and to new technologies. As adults, we hope that they will continue to have a healthy curiosity that leads to higher learning, invention and discovery.

Beyond the individual, play has the power to benefit society. It is by asking questions, forming hypotheses, investigating for evidence, and an openness to see contradictory evidence that STEM innovations are made. We see very tangible results of STEM research in our everyday lives in Singapore, e.g. desalination, land reclamation - all these alter our lives and landscape. These have been made possible by the creativity, invention, and innovation which are the bedrock of STEM research, and which play promotes.

Conclusion

It is our goal to create opportunities to let our children discover the joys of STEM through play, so that they may one day go on to make a difference to society. I welcome many more companies, societies and organisations to join us to promote the love of play and STEM in Singapore. Let me commend Science Centre Singapore for having played, and continuing to play, an important role in Singapore’s STEM efforts, and am very happy to have KidsSTOP.

KidsSTOP is a welcome addition to the Science Centre’s exhibits and programmes. I hope it will be a place of fun, exploration and learning for everyone. I’m sure many of you wish, like I do, that there was a place like this when we were kids. Those of us who are not, technically speaking, kids anymore should feel free to come to KidsSTOP too, to keep our inner kid alive. Learning, and playing, are for life, after all.

Thank you.

Speech (in Malay) by Mr Hawazi Daipi at the Malay Language Seminar

Pengenalan

Saya amat gembira dapat bersama-sama anda pada pagi ini di Seminar Bahasa Melayu 2014 anjuran Pusat Bahasa Melayu Singapura (MLCS) dan Unit Bahasa Melayu, Kementerian Pendidikan. Saya juga amat gembira menyambut kehadiran Datuk Zainal Abidin Borhan di Singapura.

Setinggi-tinggi terima kasih kepada Datuk Zainal yang sudi berkongsi pengetahuan dan pengalaman beliau dengan kita semua pada hari ini. Kehadiran beliau sesungguhnya membuktikan hubungan akrab antara Yayasan Karyawan, Malaysia dan Kementerian Pendidikan (MOE), Singapura.

Menyemai Bahasa Menuai Budi

Saya berasa bangga dengan kehadiran 560 orang guru dan tetamu di seminar tahunan ini. Seramai 137 orang guru akan menyampaikan 38 kertas kerja semasa sidang selari nanti. Angka-angka yang dinyatakan ini adalah satu rekod baharu. Sambutan hangat ini sememangnya sangat baik memandangkan Cikgu sedang bercuti. Hal ini menunjukkan komitmen atau iltizam Cikgu untuk menimba dan berkongsi ilmu dengan gigih. Syabas saya ucapkan.

Tema Seminar Bahasa Melayu 2014, Menyemai Bahasa Menuai Budi amat menarik kerana kita digalakkan untuk melihat proses pemerolehan dan pembinaan kefasihan berbahasa bukanlah semata-mata terhad kepada pandangan bahawa bahasa sebagai alat komunikasi antara anggota masyarakatnya. Namun hakikatnya, bahasa mencakup kehidupan yang luas. Bahasa mengungkap dan merakam segenap aspek kehidupan masyarakat termasuk aspek budaya, pemikiran, sosial, peradaban dan lain-lain lagi termasuk budi yang mencerminkan daya fikir, kebijaksanaan dan kebaktian yang mampu melahirkan masyarakat yang santun berbudi atau budiman.

Lantas dalam melaksanakan pengajaran dan pembelajaran Bahasa Melayu, penting bagi kita juga membina pemikiran dan sahsiah para pelajar kita dengan menyisipkan nilai-nilai kesantunan dan etika yang tinggi dalam diri mereka. Gunakanlah seminar ini sebagai platform untuk memikirkan dan bertukar-tukar pandangan tentang kandungan, kaedah dan amalan terbaik untuk mengajar anak didik kita dalam hal-hal tersebut dengan berkesan.

Saya ingin menyarankan tiga cara bagaimana Cikgu dapat membina nilai dan kesantunan dalam diri pelajar. Pertama, selain penting bagi guru untuk mengajar nilai yang disarankan dalam bahan-bahan pengajaran yang dibina oleh Unit Bahasa Melayu, guru juga harus menjadi peran contoh atau role-model bagi pelajar kita. Selain daripada ibu bapa, para pelajar memang erat dengan para guru. Lantas, kita perlu menunjuk cara menyerlahkan nilai dan perlakuan baik yang kita cadangkan kepada para pelajar kita.

Kedua, Cikgu boleh menggunakan cara yang eksplisit semasa berkongsi dan berbincang tentang nilai dan kesantunan dengan para pelajar di bilik darjah. Jalankanlah aktiviti yang bermakna dan menyeronokkan dengan menggunakan bahan yang autentik seperti laporan akhbar atau video supaya pelajar kita lebih faham setelah membaca dan menonton bahan pembelajaran tersebut.

Ketiga, bina situasi ‘nilai dalam tindakan’ (values in action) sama ada di dalam atau luar bilik darjah. Kembangkanlah peluang bagi para pelajar untuk membina nilai dan mempraktikkan nilai-nilai itu dalam tindakan dan gerak laku mereka. Contohnya, gunakan kegiatan Dwiminggu Bahasa untuk menyerlahkan nilai dan kesantunan yang telah mereka pelajari atau resapi dalam diri mereka. Galakkan mereka untuk melakukan kerja-kerja kemasyarakatan dengan pertubuhan-pertubuhan masyarakat di kawasan kejiranan kita. Hal ini pasti akan membantu membina sahsiah positif dalam diri anak didik kita.

Sehubungan dengan ini, MOE dan Jawatankuasa Pembelajaran dan Penggalakan Penggunaan Bahasa Melayu ringkasnya, MLLPC, telah menganjurkan tiga buah bengkel di peringkat daerah baru-baru ini untuk melatih guru tentang kaedah menerapkan nilai dan kesantunan Melayu dalam jiwa anak didik mereka. Bengkel yang dikendalikan oleh para pemenang Anugerah Guru Arif Budiman itu telah disertai oleh 100 orang guru. Sebenarnya, sejak 2012, MLLPC telah bekerjasama dengan Institut Pendidikan Nasional (NIE), sekolah-sekolah serta pertubuhan-pertubuhan bahasa dan budaya Melayu, termasuk Majlis Bahasa Melayu Singapura (MBMS), untuk menganjurkan bengkel-bengkel dan perkhemahan untuk mempromosi nilai-nilai Melayu dalam kalangan murid-murid kita melalui program Kesantunan Melayu. Antara lain, program ini mempunyai matlamat untuk:

  • melahirkan generasi Melayu Arif Budiman yang tinggi budi bahasa dan tahap kesantunannya;
  • membentuk generasi Melayu yang dapat menghargai budaya dan menjadi insan yang menyumbang kepada pembangunan bangsa dan negara; dan
  • mendedahkan murid-murid dengan budi pekerti dan tatatertib dalam budaya Melayu.

Pendek kata, daya usaha ini bertujuan mengukuhkan keupayaan kita melahirkan insan-insan Arif Budiman di kalangan anak didik kita.

Inisiatif Baharu Pusat Bahasa Melayu Singapura

Hadirin sekalian, setelah majlis perasmian bangunan Pusat Bahasa Melayu Singapura (MLCS) dan Fiesta Bahasa Melayu yang dijalankan pada April 2014, MLCS terus memantapkan program pembangunan profesional guru. Dari Januari hingga Mei tahun ini, seramai 1,200 guru telah mengikuti pelbagai kursus yang dijalankan. Sekitar 480 guru telah mengikuti empat sesi perkongsian profesional yang berkaitan Penerapan Aspek Budaya dalam Pembelajaran, Pembelajaran Berasaskan Masalah, Didik Hibur - Pembelajaran Bahasa Menerusi Permainan dan Permainan ICT bagi Sekolah Menengah.

Suka saya mengkhabarkan bahawa buat masa ini Pusat Bahasa telah menghantar 10 Guru Kanan kita untuk mengikuti Program Penyerapan di Universitas Pendidikan Indonesia, Bandung atas tajaan Jawatankuasa Pembelajaran dan Penggalakan Penggunaan Bahasa Melayu ringkasnya, MLLPC. 22 orang guru pula akan mengikuti Program Penyerapan selama dua minggu di Brunei bermula daripada pertengahan Jun ini dengan sokongan dana daripada Akademi Guru Singapura (AST).

Saya juga gembira MLCS meneroka kegiatan baharu. Bermula daripada Julai hingga Ogos, MLCS akan menjadi tuan rumah kepada seorang mahasiswa daripada Akademi Pengajian Melayu, Universiti Malaya bagi Program Penempatan Industri. Hal ini ialah satu pengiktirafan kepada keupayaan MLCS dan Kementerian Pendidikan Singapura. Saya pasti usaha APM dan MLCS akan menguntungkan pelbagai pihak yang terlibat.

MLCS juga sedang menyiapkan diri untuk membina Galeri Pendidikan Bahasa Melayu Singapura di bangunannya. Galeri ini akan menyusur sejarah perkembangan pengajaran dan pembelajaran bahasa Melayu di Singapura. Galeri ini juga akan mempamer sukatan pelajaran dan bahan pengajaran yang pernah digunakan serta menyerlahkan tokoh-tokoh generasi perintis yang telah menyumbang kepada pengembangan pendidikan bahasa Melayu di Singapura. Semoga kita sama-sama dapat menyokong dengan menyumbangkan bahan-bahan bersejarah yang diperlukan MLCS.

Penutup

Para hadirin sekalian, marilah kita terus berusaha untuk melahirkan lebih ramai pelajar dan guru Arif Budiman - orang yang berilmu pengetahuan dan bersedia menyumbang kepada masyarakat. Orang yang budiman ialah orang yang berkesantunan atau berbudi bahasa, berbudi pekerti dan berakal budi.

Saya ucapkan tahniah kepada MLCS dan Unit Bahasa Melayu yang telah menganjurkan Seminar Bahasa Melayu 2014 dengan jayanya. Saya juga mengucapkan terima kasih sekali lagi kepada Datuk Zainal Abidin Borhan atas sokongan yang beliau berikan. Semoga seminar dan sesi perkongsian pada pagi ini dapat kita manfaatkan bersama-sama.

Dengan ini saya merasmikan pembukaan Seminar Bahasa Melayu 2014. Sekian, terima kasih.

Address by Mr Heng Swee Keat at the 7th Teachers' Conference 2014

It gives me great pleasure to be with you this morning in this 7th Teachers’ Conference. The theme for this Teachers’ Conference—“Values across the Curriculum: Inspiring Learning, Shaping Lives”— drives home the core purpose of Singapore educators. It is aligned with our focus on a “Student-centric, Values-Driven Education”. Every teacher has the unique opportunity to be a character coach who helps our students grow holistically into self-directed learners, confident persons, active contributors and concerned citizens.

I am very glad that Mr S R Nathan is joining us today. Mr Nathan has served with distinction in various capacities in the Singapore Civil Service. He continued to serve the people of Singapore as our elected President for a period of twelve years between 1999 and 2011. I knew Mr Nathan when I was a junior officer and he was an inspiration to me as he embodies the values of a strong sense of service, humility, and a deep conviction to better the lives of others.

In his memoirs, “Path to the Presidency: An Unexpected Journey”, Mr Nathan records the diversity of his experiences. We have already heard Ms Kamini, our storyteller, tell how Mr Nathan struggled to eke out a living as a teenager and eventually overcame poverty and deprivation. He made good use of the learning opportunities, realised his potential, and sought at every turn to contribute to the community and to our nation. Values such as courage, perseverance, a deep sense of responsibility to Singapore and the readiness to sacrifice are values lived out by Mr Nathan against the backdrop of a humble beginning. These are the very same values we want to inculcate in our students.

Mr Nathan has graciously donated copies of his book “50 stories from my life” to all school libraries. I urge schools to harness this valuable teaching resource, to tell our students inspiring stories of the challenges our pioneer generation faced, and how through sheer grit and determination, our forefathers worked together to transform Singapore from a Third World Country to a First World Country in one generation.

Thank you, Mr Nathan, for gracing our conference with your presence. I hope that your stories will touch the lives of many students and adults alike, and inspire us to build Singapore in the next 50 years, just as the pioneer generation has done in the last 50 years.

Navigating the Future with Our Moral Compass

But the next 50 years will be unpredictable and uncertain from where we stand today, just as it was impossible for our forefathers to dream that today’s Singapore would be possible from where they stood 50 years ago. But what they have is a spirit to work for a better future.

So if we draw our strength and inspiration from the past, holding dear the values that have come to define us as a nation, and continue to adapt and innovate, our young too can build an even better future for Singapore. What they need is a good compass of values and navigation skills to manage fast changing terrains.

This is why our values education and the broader Character and Citizenship Education are so critical. But I have said before, CCE will be the most difficult “subject” to teach. I am therefore heartened by the commitment of our educators and the progress you have made. The many sharing sessions you have attest to this.

Let me suggest three important ways that our teachers can adopt to teach CCE and to inculcate values.

1st Way: Core of Values Education - Role Modelling

The first, and most powerful way that our teachers, and parents and adults, can transmit values is through our actions - that is, role modelling.

Do we, in our daily actions, display our six core values of Care, Harmony, Integrity, Respect, Responsibility and Resilience? These values are expressed in how we relate to our peers and our students, in how we express ourselves, in the way we treat people around us, in the way we handle our tasks. Indeed, in every word and deed, day in and day out, we model these values to the students. To guide students in strengthening their moral compasses, we must each first strengthen our own, and ensure that we walk the talk. I commend all of you for undertaking this difficult but extremely important responsibility to nurture our next generation.

Our educators have a strong tradition of modelling values in education. What struck me most about the teachers from our pioneer generation whom I have met is their commitment to the well-being of students and the transmission of values. Take for instance Mdm Fong Yuet Kwai, who was Principal of Nan Hua Primary School for 23 years. For Mdm Fong, teaching values during moral education periods was not enough. Rather, she wanted the school environment itself to set a conducive context. She used the morning assembly to share short stories on values, like honesty, loyalty, perseverance and integrity, and got students to tell their own little stories. Mdm Fong would also say to her teachers, and I quote, “As a teacher, you are a role model. We earn people’s respect by being a good example and a good role model. These are the timeless traits. When people entrust you with their children, you cannot let them down.” Mdm Fong could not have said it better.

Can we preserve this strong tradition in values education started by our pioneer generation of teachers? After all, we have a very young teaching force.

I am confident that we can turn our relatively young teaching force into a source of strength. I have met many energetic young teachers with a strong passion for education, deep values, and a deep desire to learn and grow. For instance, Ms Gidwani Poojalal encourages her students at Haig Girls’ School to be active contributors. As part of their Values in Action (VIA) programme, Primary 5 and 6 students devised solutions that serve the needs of the community through empathetic thinking. For their project on the Geylang Serai wet market, students designed signboards similar to those in supermarkets to enable customers to better orientate themselves. This idea was subsequently taken up by the National Heritage Board, and you can now see these signboards when you visit the Geylang Serai Wet Market today. This is how our teachers make a difference.

Teachers as Role Models of Learning and Sharing

Our teachers are also models of self-directed, lifelong learners. Our teaching culture of humility in learning and generosity in sharing is commendable. This culture is not to be taken for granted, for I have heard many school leaders in other systems around the world lamenting that their classrooms are like fortresses, where teachers guard their teaching practices and reject any feedback from fellow teachers or supervisors as intrusions.

In our system, Teacher-Mentoring is an essential feature of enabling our teachers to master the craft of teaching. AST’s Skilful Teaching and Enhanced Mentoring (STEM) programme enables our teachers, both mentors and mentees, to learn from one another and to become more confident and skilful practitioners. What you see in this slide - the mentoring relationship of Ms Wang Pei Fen and Ms Low Pei Wen is one such example. Ninety schools adopt the STEM programme and more will come on board soon. The value of this mentoring programme is not just in helping our teachers achieve high professional standards, but in demonstrating how our teachers model learning for life, generous sharing of expertise and the continual quest to be better teachers.

I am particularly encouraged by the commitment of our leadership team to develop mentors for the CCE programme. Within the last year or so, we have trained more than 700 CCE mentors who support our school leaders in their CCE efforts. This is in addition to the customised school-based training to build teachers’ capacity in facilitation skills for CCE.

2nd way: Explicit Teaching of Values

The second important way that our teachers are teaching CCE is through the explicit teaching of these values, using relevant materials. I have seen many innovative CCE resources that our teachers have developed. But many teachers have also asked for centralised resources that can be shared across schools, to enhance coherence and reduce duplication of work. In response, MOE HQ has introduced the new CCE curriculum materials. The CCE syllabus has been implemented in the primary 1 and 2 levels, as well as at the secondary levels. By the end of this year, we will have the Primary 3-6 textbooks, activity books and teacher resource guides.

3rd Way: Values-in-Action

An old Chinese proverb that is attributed to Confucius is: “I hear, and I forget; I see, and I remember; I do, and I understand”. Hence, a third important way that our teachers inculcate values is by enabling students to put these values into action. Well-designed Values in Action (VIA) programmes enable our students to apply their classroom learning to serve the needs of the community.

Since VIA was introduced in 2012, we have seen many excellent ways in which our students have engaged the community.

  • In First Toa Payoh Primary school, parents of the primary 2 students were pleased to see that their children started doing household chores like sweeping the floor, washing the dishes and tidying the tables at home. Students learn that everyone has a part to play.
  • In Unity Secondary school, a class of secondary 4 students worked with K2 students in a Kindergarten to design kites.
  • Anderson Junior College students and their teachers volunteered as Tray Return Ambassadors in 30 hawker centres.

All these are meaningful projects.

In March 2011, when Japan was hit by a major earthquake and tsunami, people around the world were touched by the care and concern that Japanese showed to one another, even under such trying circumstances. In Japan, there are few dustbins in the city area and the streets are clean. When I visited Japanese schools in 2011, I caught a glimpse of how they inculcated this sense of care and responsibility. In one primary school, students were grouped into teams of 6, with one student each from primary one to primary six, with the primary six pupil as the team leader. They were out in the community, picking litter and cleaning the neighbourhood. The residents in the area were proud of these students. These students learnt how hard it was to keep the streets clean, and learnt not to litter. They also learnt about leadership and responsibility - as the principal explained to me, each student has five years to learn how to be a leader, and the older children were expected to take care of the younger ones. By taking care of the neighbourhood around the school; they inculcate a sense of responsibility to the community.

For our children to grow up as concerned citizens and active contributors, they must learn to take ownership of and responsibility for communal spaces, such as the school compound or the neighbourhood. This is a basic building block.

I am glad that as part of the values in action programme, some schools have adopted a whole-school approach to inculcating such values. A few examples are:

  • Fuhua Primary school has a biannual ‘No Cleaners’ event, and students have to keep the school clean;
  • Dunman High School students go to two hawker centres to pick litter and encourage stall holders and patrons to keep the hawker centres clean.

But we can do more, and do better. Indeed, many parents have told me of their fond memories of doing their part to keep their schools clean, taking turns to clean the classrooms and even the toilets. Many also recalled the “Use Your Hand” campaign fondly. They have urged me to bring back some elements of these. So beyond the whole-school approach, we can consider a nation-wide approach to inculcating values of care for our common and communal spaces.

Hence, I am glad to announce that as part of our Values-in-Action, we will launch a ‘Keep Singapore Clean Movement in Schools’. This movement will be student-driven and school-supported. We want all students to propose ideas to keep the school and neighbourhood clean, put their ideas into action and carry them out on a sustained basis so that good habits can be internalised.

I am confident that our young will have many imaginative ideas and bundles of energy to see these through. I would like to see them become advocates for a cleaner and greener Singapore, and to take action to realise these. More importantly, beyond cleanliness, I hope our students internalise the values of care and responsibility of our environment and community. This movement supports the ‘Keep Singapore Clean Movement’ led by the Public Hygiene Council.

Fourteen schools are already working with the Public Health Council’s Bright Spots Programme to turn community spaces into models of cleanliness and hygiene take ownership for the cleanliness of the school environment and the community. With this national effort, I hope we can make the entire Singapore a Big Bright Spot.

Through the Keep Singapore Clean movement in schools, our students can become role models and advocates for a clean Singapore to their peers, family members and neighbours. It will help our students develop empathy, a sense of belonging, commitment to the community and a deep understanding of our interdependence. It will engender a sense of ownership of our communal spaces and our Singapore.

Conclusion

Teachers are at the very heart of our “Student-centric, Values-driven” education. With an open heart and mind, let us learn from one another and build on areas we can improve. At the same time, let us not forget to encourage and affirm one another in our journey as teachers, remembering always to bring out the best in every child, and in every school.

I wish you a meaningful Teachers’ Conference.

NEA Aims to Revive Organizing as Membership Drops - Education Week

Education Week - Teachers - 03 June 2014
The national teachers' union is imploring local affiliates to better engage current and potential members, and has launched a Center for Organizing to provide tools and training.
Topic: Teachers
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