Champion for a single salary structure: Chan Lai Fung

Ms Chan Lai Fung has been in public service for over 30 years. PHOTO: PRIME MINISTER’S OFFICE


Permanent Secretary, National Research Foundation and Public Sector Science & Technology Policy and Plans Office; Chairman, A*Star

Meritorious Service Medal

As a student, Ms Chan Lai Fung was disappointed when she did not do as well at the O-level examinations as she had for her school exams. At the time, it felt like "the end of the world".

But as it turned out, those grades did not matter. Years later, she went on to become one of Singapore's top civil servants.

It was fitting then that as Permanent Secretary for Education from 2012 to 2019, she led efforts to shift the focus away from grades and to broaden the definition of success. Streaming is being replaced by subject-based banding, allowing students to take a subject at a level based on their ability. The PSLE scoring system was also revamped.

Ms Chan, who has been in public service for over 30 years, also championed a single salary structure for both graduate and non-graduate teachers. "Why do we insist on them jumping through hoops to complete their degree before we put them on the same pathway? Ultimately, it must be skills and competencies that matter," she said.

Even now, the 56-year-old still offers her perspectives when people bring up hot-button topics on education. "I think my (Ministry of Education) colleagues are doing a wonderful job and it would be terrible for their work to be misunderstood."

A full list of this year's National Day Award recipients is available at the PMO website.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 09, 2020, with the headline Champion for a single salary structure: Chan Lai Fung. Subscribe