Secondary schools to offer 7 new hands-on subjects

From left: Hong Kah Secondary students Alwinderjit Singh Basant, Abdul Hafiz Abdul Hamid and Juan Sebastian at an electronics lab. Hong Kah has already refurbished a few classrooms to set up an electronics lab and several rooms for project work.
From left: Hong Kah Secondary students Alwinderjit Singh Basant, Abdul Hafiz Abdul Hamid and Juan Sebastian at an electronics lab. Hong Kah has already refurbished a few classrooms to set up an electronics lab and several rooms for project work. ST PHOTO: MARCUS TAN

Secondary curriculum to include robotics, sports science and drama

Seven new subjects, ranging from robotics to sports science, are set to become part of the O- and N-level tracks to give students a chance for more hands-on learning.

These subjects, which will be rolled out over the next two years, will be available in more than 60 secondary schools.

O-level electronics and computing will start next year, along with three Normal (Technical) subjects - smart electrical technology, mobile robotics and retail operations.

In 2018, drama, as well as exercise and sports science, will be added to the O-level curriculum.

These subjects are different from traditional subjects such as mathematics, for instance. The key focus will be to expose students to applied learning, which integrates classroom learning with real-world situations, said an Education Ministry spokesman.

This will also allow students to make better choices on courses to pursue after secondary school.

 
  • The seven new subjects

  • O-LEVEL

    • Electronics: Includes both digital and analog electronics. Covers theoretical knowledge of electronics and their real-world applications.

    •Computing: Aims to help students develop solutions that are implemented with computers. This involves skills such as algorithmic thinking, or step-by-step solving of problems.

    •Drama: Aims to foster an understanding of drama through practical and theoretical means, by studying the process of performance and its different stages.

    • Exercise and sports science: To develop students' knowledge and skills in physical activities. They will also learn to plan, analyse and improve these activities. 

  • NORMAL (TECHNICAL) LEVEL

    • Smart electrical technology: Provides students with a grounding in foundational concepts in home automation systems.

    • Mobile robotics: The subject covers areas such as electricity, electronics and mechanical design. Students will learn to apply skills in designing and building robots to complete tasks.

    • Retail operations: Gives students a broad grasp of activities in a retail business environment, including customer service. They will get hands-on experience in a simulated retail workplace setting.

  • Amelia Teng

The spokesman said that the ministry worked with industry partners, as well as the polytechnics, the Institute of Technical Education and universities to ensure that the new curriculum is "relevant and engaging".

Subjects which focus on applied learning have been available since 2008. But these six subjects, which include the fundamentals of electronics and design studies, are offered only to O-level students.

On average, a total of 310 students have taken these six subjects each year in the last five years.

Polytechnic lecturers also teach the students and help to develop the curriculum. Most of these subjects will be phased out by next year, except for biotechnology and design studies offered at the Singapore School of Science and Technology.

The seven new applied subjects will be taught by teachers at the secondary schools themselves, and this could allow more students to take them up. Teachers are currently being trained to teach the new subjects.

Under the current curriculum, 20 students in each cohort study the fundamentals of electronics each year at Hong Kah Secondary, which has offered the subject in partnership with Ngee Ann Polytechnic since 2008.

"It is a fixed number because of the polytechnic's capacity and how many other schools and students they can accommodate on campus," said physics teacher Wee Jin Yi, who will teach electronics.

Hong Kah has already refurbished a few classrooms to set up an electronics lab and several rooms for project work.

The new subjects will have a refreshed curriculum. Electronics, for example, will cover the digital circuits in devices such as computers and television sets.

Parents and teachers believe that the new subjects will give students a chance to go beyond traditional academic disciplines and discover where their interests lie. "We hope to catch students' attention in electronics at a younger age and, hopefully, they will be more receptive to a career in this field," said Mr Wee.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 07, 2016, with the headline 'Schools to offer 7 new hands-on subjects'. Print Edition | Subscribe