DPM Heng Swee Keat gives three suggestions to strengthen schooling

DPM Heng Swee Keat (right) at Raffles Institution's 199th Founder's Day event on July 23, 2022. ST PHOTO: KHALID BABA

SINGAPORE - Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat shared three suggestions with Raffles Institution (RI) students on Saturday (July 23) on what makes a good school to help better prepare them for an increasingly challenging world.

In a speech during RI's 199th Founder's Day celebration held at the school in Bishan, he said: "What does 'Every School a Good School' mean for RI, which is already widely perceived as a good school? It is about bringing out the best in every child." 

The slogan “Every School a Good School” was popularised by Mr Heng when he was education minister from 2011 to 2015.

First, Mr Heng suggested that RI students should take a broader view of what "good" means. He told students not to get pigeonholed by their grades or use their grades as their primary measure of success.

"In the workplace, one is assessed based on how you perform, and not what your academic grades were. RI has put in place a diversity, inclusivity, and community engagement, or Dice, framework, to step up your values-driven education. Much of this holistic learning takes place outside the classroom," he said.

Second, Mr Heng said that diversity must be at the core of what a "good" RI experience is.

He added that RI students come from more comfortable backgrounds, with around half of RI students living in public housing, which is lower than the national school average.

"Diversity is not tokenism. It is not charity. We must do our utmost to prevent the inadvertent perpetuation of closed groups. Left unchecked, this will lead to the greater social stratification that we see in many other countries." 

He added: "In a more complex and uncertain world, it is critical that our youth can work in diverse environments, understand different perspectives, appreciate different cultures, and learn to build consensus."

Lastly, he said that a "good" RI education must continue to emphasise a spirit of service.

Through the years, RI has produced many generations of thinkers, leaders and pioneers who contributed to building Singapore.

"I am glad the that the Rafflesian spirit of service remains strong. During Covid-19, Rafflesians were active in supporting the learning of underprivileged primary school students. I was also happy to hear RI principal Frederick Yeo mention in his speech that you are starting a new mentoring programme for Primary 4 to 6 pupils." 

Under the newly announced programme that will kick off next year, RI students will provide academic tutoring to pupils who receive financial assistance in participating primary schools.

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