Educate Singaporeans to dream big, says Sylvia Lim

Ms Lim of the Workers' Party also called for the Government "to let go and devolve more power".
Ms Lim of the Workers' Party also called for the Government "to let go and devolve more power".

Workers' Party chairman Sylvia Lim (Aljunied GRC) believes that Singapore's education system needs to change in order to get Singaporeans to dream big, be unafraid to fail and feel they can make a difference in the country's future.

It has to provide the right environment for students to take risks and not fear failing.

Assessment of students "should nurture a spirit of exploration, and encourage students to think out of the box and to have differing opinions", she added.

For instance, extra credit can be given to students who give alternative solutions that are not the exact "model answers".

They should also learn that "some things may be worth doing even if one fails", she said, suggesting that they be given case studies of people who failed to achieve what they set out to do, but were pursuing an important cause.

Ms Lim also noted that the Government has been fostering "collaborative governance" by promoting cooperation among the public and private sectors and the people.

But Singaporeans will feel that their opinion matters only when they are equal partners.

So, "the Government needs to let go and devolve more power" by reducing its presence in matters of "non-core government functions".

This will allow "real power centres outside the Government - in local enterprises, in the private sector, in civil society, in the people sector, so as to effectively check and work with the Government". 

Reiterating an issue she raised while campaigning in last September's General Election, Ms Lim repeated her call for professional bodies and national sports associations to be managed without government representatives or MPs on their boards.

"Empowered Singaporeans will not blame others when the going gets tough, but will face difficulties squarely," she added.

Similarly, Ms Lim's fellow Aljunied GRC MP Faisal Abdul Manap spoke in Malay about the need to engage people in dialogue on "hotly debated issues, such as the threat of radicalism".

He said other communities, besides the Malay/Muslim community, should be included in the discussion on the tudung, or Muslim headscarves, not being allowed to be worn in uniformed service.

Mr Faisal also said a system was needed to monitor the social assistance schemes and find ways to improve them.

Rebutting his point, Dr Fatimah Lateef (Marine Parade GRC) said the aid programmes were being monitored by the Government Parliamentary Committees.

The opposition, she added, should not only question government schemes but "step forward with new ideas that are substantial and practical".

She also countered Ms Lim's point on collaborative governance, arguing that collaboration was about joint efforts to achieve a goal, and not about "equal contributions, equal partnership".

"I would also be glad to say that I will contribute more than my fair share if I can, if I know how to, and if I am capable," she said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 26, 2016, with the headline 'Educate S'poreans to dream big, says Sylvia Lim'. Print Edition | Subscribe