Schools prepare kids for when they enter workforce

Singapore's education system has been designed in tandem with the manpower needs of our economy.
Singapore's education system has been designed in tandem with the manpower needs of our economy. PHOTO: ST FILE

In studying the recipe for Singapore's successful transformation from a Third World country to a First World one, I learnt that education has been highly instrumental to Singapore's economic success.

I can say with certitude that if our Ministry of Education (MOE) is in keeping with the foresight that has driven Singapore's educational planning all these decades, we are on a good track.

I suspect part of the reason young people are not so sure how the education they are receiving today will prepare them sufficiently to join the workforce is that we are not preparing for them to join the workforce this very day but, rather, in the future (Take bold steps to impart skills, prepare youth for future, by Mr Jason Ng Bak Huat, April 17).

Polarised countries that cannot even agree on critical internal issues like healthcare and education will be stunned to learn that in Singapore, collaboration on such issues not only exist within the consigned ministry but also across government agencies.

Singapore is hardly politically myopic; one of our ministers' greatest priorities is to predict future global developments and determine how best Singapore can stay relevant in the larger scheme of things.

For example, while most foreign ministries are still attempting to manoeuvre 20th century global relations using 19th century foreign policies, our Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan is hitting home and abroad with how technological disruption will shape foreign policy.

Since its inception, Singapore's education system has been designed in tandem with the manpower needs of our economy.

MOE does not go online to pick the most well-marketed curriculum; it speaks to our Ministry of Manpower and other ministries in determining what skills are most relevant when it comes time for our children to enter the workforce.

Hence, parents should not be too startled if their children are learning something that does not seem to be hugely available and popular in the workforce today, as they are learning skills most applicable for the future marketplace.

As long as the Government keeps citizens engaged for ideas, maintains its dynamism and continues tweaking itself for relevance and progress, I am confident Singapore's education system is well poised to prepare our children for the 21st century and beyond.

Lily Ong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 19, 2019, with the headline 'Schools prepare kids for when they enter workforce'. Print Edition | Subscribe