Singaporean aspirations will drive education system of the future, says Ong Ye Kung

Acting Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) Ong Ye Kung (centre, in black) taking a photograph with residents at the annual Clean and Green Singapore 2015 on Oct 4, 2015.
Acting Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) Ong Ye Kung (centre, in black) taking a photograph with residents at the annual Clean and Green Singapore 2015 on Oct 4, 2015. ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN

SINGAPORE - The education system of the future will be driven not just by national needs but also the "bottom-up" aspirations of Singaporeans, said co-Acting Education Minister Ong Ye Kung on Sunday.

In his first public comments on education since his appointment, Mr Ong said his ministry would pursue an education system "driven by bottom-up aspirations", which in turn would have a big impact on the way higher education is developing.

"It means that you will see a lot more diversity in our education system, not just in terms of the courses you attend, what university you attend, but how you learn, when you learn, who will learn," said Mr Ong, who oversees higher education and skills.

This will lead to diversity in credentials that people achieve, and impact how those qualifications are regarded and recognised in society, he said.

Mr Ong added that in the past, the education system was driven by national needs such as training workers to attract foreign investment and companies into Singapore.

"It was top down, functional, efficient and some say utilitarian," he said.

Mr Ong is one of two Acting Ministers for Education. His counterpart, Mr Ng Chee Meng, is Acting Education Minister (Schools). Both are regarded as part of the government's fourth-generation leadership.

Mr Ong also said both him and Mr Ng had distinct responsibilities, but they would work closely together.

"We are very mindful that ours is a single ministry, with a very integrated and synergistic system," he said.