October 8, 2017

What we can learn about education from Singapore

CM Rubin World   Singapore has been well publicized as one of the most highly regarded education systems in the world... How did Singapore transform its once struggling education system into an effective one? In an age of technological disruption, uncertainty and dramatic change, what’s being done to emphasize lifelong learning, holistic education and 21st century skills today, and even more importantly, in the future? Learning from Singapore: The Power of Paradoxes, is a new book by Pak Tee Ng, which tells the inside story of the country’s continuous journey to achieve excellence in learning.

How has global context impacted education in Singapore?

Pak Tee Ng - The world is experiencing global uncertainties, technological disruptions, and contestations of values, all at an increasing rate of change. Although Singapore has a robust education system, it is changing to ensure that students have what it takes to meet the challenges of such a context and future. We change when we are strong rather than to wait until we are desperate. Then we can change in a more mindful and reflective manner. Work has begun much earlier but we are putting in more efforts to emphasize values inculcation, lifelong learning, holistic education and 21st century skills. We hope to encourage joyful learning and help our students develop resilience and an entrepreneurial spirit. We would like our young people to become morally upright, economically productive, and rooted to the country.

What additional work is there to be done in improving schools?

Let me give you a few examples of the things we are currently doing. Singapore schools are generally well organized for efficient and effective learning. But we are now much more mindful and intentional about making the learning process a joyful one, so that students develop an intrinsic desire for lifelong learning. Then, they will be better prepared to deal with future complex challenges. This requires teachers to examine their teaching methods to engage their students better. We are also making content more relevant to real life and giving students opportunities to apply knowledge and skills learned in school in authentic work settings. We help students develop their character and people skills through experiential learning in many areas, such as sports, outdoor adventures, uniformed groups, and art. We would like to broaden the definition of success and develop more educational pathways for students. We would like young Singaporeans to become well-rounded and productive citizens.


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