Parliament: National Education curricula to be refreshed to keep up with contemporary issues

Ping Yi Secondary School students reciting the national pledge after receiving their identity cards in a ceremony at the school hall on March 5, 2018. ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

SINGAPORE - The current National Education (NE) syllabus for students in schools will be refreshed to take in different perspectives and contemporary issues, said Senior Minister of State for Education Janil Puthucheary on Monday (March 5).

The aim of a recent review, that was completed last year, is to develop students as citizens amid changing global social, economic and political contexts.

Going forward, NE will be driven by three main thrusts and schools will be given the autonomy to implement changes based on their students' needs and profiles.

Curriculum time will be set aside for students to have discussions on contemporary issues so that they can make sense of connections between the past and present, and form their own opinions after considering different views.

Second, students will also be encouraged to reflect on what it means to be Singaporeans through "citizenship experiences" such as NRIC presentation ceremonies for 15-year-olds.

Teachers will also be given more time and space to have open dialogues with their fellow educators on contemporary topics and be equipped to guide classroom discussions.

More than 2,000 students, educators and members of the public were engaged on their views as part of the review between September 2016 and October 2017.

Dr Janil said that the recommendations from the review include nurturing a sense of belonging to the community and country, Singapore's challenges and shared hopes and aspirations as a nation.

He was responding to Mr Ang Wei Neng (Jurong GRC) who had asked how the Ministry of Education (MOE) can make NE classes more interesting and relevant for students.

Mr Ang said: "Many students cringe when they attend NE classes, which could be known as different names in different schools but have similar results. Many feel that it is propaganda."

Acknowledging this, Dr Janil said: "MOE recognises that we have to be open to doing NE differently."

He added that students have to discover what being Singaporean means to them personally not because textbooks say so, but because they themselves know so.

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