Education needs to be transformed so students appreciate the aesthetics in technology: Vivian

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister-in-charge of the Smart Nation initiative Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, giving an opening address for the 6th Singapore International Science Challenge 2017 (SISC) at National Junior College.
Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister-in-charge of the Smart Nation initiative Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, giving an opening address for the 6th Singapore International Science Challenge 2017 (SISC) at National Junior College.PHOTO: WIDEVISION

SINGAPORE - Education today needs to be transformed such that students have a sensibility to appreciate the aesthetics in technology and the elements that "resonate with the soul".

An ability to build should also be nurtured, where one needs to understand how new technology is created, said Minister- in-charge of Singapore's Smart Nation initiative Vivian Balakrishnan on Tuesday (June 27).

Lastly, students also need to build on their communication skills, he added, in order for messages and emotions to be conveyed at a human level.

These are skills required for a more dynamic workplace in the future, said Dr Balakrishnan, who was speaking at the opening ceremony for the 6th Singapore International Science Challenge (SISC) at National Junior College (NJC).

About 320 students and educators were present at the opening ceremony of the event, with the theme, Connecting Minds: Discovering New Frontier, which aims to bring people together and see how science is applied to improve lives with better communication.

Every student, regardless of which country they are from, has to seize the opportunities provided by the education system to ride on the Fourth Industrial Revolution - an era driven by technology and smart systems, such as artificial intelligence and material science, said Dr Balakrishnan, who is also the Minister for Foreign Affairs.

On the importance of seizing opportunities, Dr Balakrishnan said that it is necessary to prepare for jobs that have yet to exist. "You honestly cannot predict what jobs you will do, five to ten years from now. I don't think anyone of you will be doing one single job for the rest of your life."

He added that lifelong education is crucial with the rapid pace of technological change, and the government has given Singaporeans opportunities to upgrade and re-skill themselves. An example is SkillsFuture, a national movement to encourage Singaporeans to be proactive about acquiring new skills.

SISC 2017 will be held till July 1, and will see about 100 students and educators from 24 institutions worldwide convening at NJC to discuss on the latest developments in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, as well as participate in problem-solving challenges.