Schools play innovation role

Schools should set aside time and space for students to explore and pursue their interests to foster a sense of innovation in them.

This was Minister of Education (Schools) Ng Chee Meng's rallying call on the final Thursday of last year, at the 20th Appointment and Appreciation Ceremony for Principals at Shangri-La Hotel.

Mr Ng proposed a 3Is formula to nurturing a sense of innovation in a child - imagination, inquisitiveness and interconnections. Students should be allowed to explore to come up with new ideas. They should be encouraged to question everything around them instead of being satisfied with answers. They should also be able to establish the links between the various things they learn in different areas.

Mr Ng said these would all add up to help develop in children an "Innovation Quotient".

He first talked about the importance of nurturing innovators and value-creators when he entered office in 2015. Mr Ng's latest comments show that there is now a conscious effort to build on those ideas and translate them into action.

In the age of disruption, technology has changed various industries and fields around the world. For instance, ride-sharing firms such as Uber and Grab have led to greater competition for taxi companies in many countries.


While disruption may leave some floundering, there is also great potential and possibilities in such a landscape, if Singaporeans can ride the wave.

Schools and parents need to sow the seeds of innovation in children so, as they grow older, they will have the habit and know-how to come up with new ideas to benefit Singapore. As Mr Ng said in his speech last Thursday, innovation is not about a single eureka moment that pops up unexpectedly, but is an ongoing process of exploration.

In targeting schools, the authorities are trying to help students develop their full potential by giving them the tools and abilities to innovate. The children will carry these skills and knowledge with them through life, and come up with bigger and better ideas to contribute to society.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 03, 2018, with the headline 'Schools play innovation role'. Print Edition | Subscribe