MOE must encourage culture of innovation in schools

I share Mr Wong Horng Ginn's view that education for our young should focus on the needs of the future (Classrooms must have focus on the future; July 5) and, for this to happen, the Ministry of Education (MOE) has to take the lead.

While there have been tweaks to our education system in recent years, more strategic action needs to be undertaken. The tweaks do not seem to be keeping pace with the rapidly changing world.

I fear that while our education system has worked well for the past 50 years, it might not be robust enough to drive future growth for Singapore or ensure that our little red dot remains relevant to the world.

While 10-year-olds in international schools are learning to organise themselves in teams and use laptops and smartphones to produce presentations on solutions to tackle global problems, our primary schools seem to be focused only on pupils doing well in the PSLE to get into a "good" secondary school.

Talent is a key ingredient for innovation. While finding talent is a challenge, managing talent is even more difficult. It is much easier to keep the pupils on a regimented path rather than to deal with non-conformists who dare to test the boundaries.

The question is whether MOE believes in the importance of inculcating a conducive environment to encourage innovation and talent to develop from young.

And, if so, are teachers trained and skilled to undertake this challenge?

The culture of innovation should be inculcated from young. For example, we can have lessons in innovation in primary schools or have pupils work on specific projects in teams to encourage their creativity.

For Singapore to punch above its weight in the future, it is even more critical to focus on encouraging and developing a culture of innovation in our national school system.

Jason Ng Bak Huat

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 12, 2018, with the headline 'MOE must encourage culture of innovation in schools'. Print Edition | Subscribe