Looking forward to 2017: Housing, education and heritage

Even as 2016 draws to a close, with many notable events shaping what has been called by many a year of change, 2017 looks to be a significant year. The Straits Times looks at what to expect for housing, education and heritage in the new year.

Housing: Business as usual, with 17,000 new BTO flats

2017 looks set to become the year when policy changes in housing are being quietly set in motion behind the scenes. On the stage, however, few fireworks are expected.

In October, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong, in an interview, highlighted some changes to come.

One of the most significant is the launch of new flats for young couples with shorter waiting times, as part of a national strategy to help Singaporeans settle down and have children. Mr Wong said he wanted to cut the wait to two to three years, down from the current three to four years. They will likely be introduced in 2018.


Education: Bold policy changes but mindsets must change too

It had been a long wait but in July, the Ministry of Education (MOE) finally announced significant changes to the PSLE scoring system.

Pupils will no longer be graded on how they perform relative to their peers. Instead, the new system, which will come into effect in 2021, is aimed at encouraging pupils to focus on their own learning, instead of the competition.

The current T-score system will be replaced by eight scoring bands called Achievement Levels (AL), and the Primary School Leaving Examination score for Secondary 1 posting will be the sum of the ALs of four subjects.


Heritage: Building momentum in efforts to protect local history

For years, the former National Aerated Water Company factory stood, disused and seemingly forgotten. Then, on Dec 9, came the news that the 62-year-old building in Serangoon Road had been sold to a Malaysian developer and could be razed to make way for a condominium.

It sparked rigorous discussion in the heritage community, which opposed the move, citing the building's history and architecture.

Although the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) announced later that the building could be conserved, its fate is still unclear and some sort of compromise between URA and the new owner will have to be struck.


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 28, 2016, with the headline Looking forward to 2017: Housing, education and heritage. Subscribe