Singapore must diversify schools, offer multiple pathways for its diverse students: Chan Chun Sing

A diversity of options would enable students to uncover and fulfil their potential, said Mr Chan Chun Sing. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Singapore must diversify its schools and offer multiple pathways to serve its diverse students, said Education Minister Chan Chun Sing.

They have different strengths, interests, aspirations and learning needs, and should not be pursuing the same definition of success, he said.

Mr Chan was speaking at a ceremony celebrating the 75th anniversary of Nan Chiau Primary and High schools held at Nan Chiau High in Sengkang.

Singapore's education system was designed to efficiently make use of the country's limited resources but a major drawback of this system was that many schools became homogeneous, said Mr Chan.

He said: "Now that we have more resources available, we need to look at providing students with a diversity of options to choose from, each providing something different that would enable them to uncover and fulfil their potential."

He added that Singapore has been working to introduce specialised schools such as the Singapore Sports School, Northlight and School of the Arts Singapore, as well as Special Assistance Plan (SAP) Schools like Nan Chiau High.

Nan Chiau High became an SAP school in 2012, after being left off the list in 1979 when the first nine SAP schools were announced. The SAP schools are a group of primary and secondary schools where students are educated on Chinese language and culture and bilingualism in English and Mandarin is emphasised.

As part of the ceremony, Mr Chan also opened a heritage gallery, a new innovation space for students featuring gadgets like 3D printers as well as the two gate posts from Nan Chiau's original campus in Kim Yam Road in the River Valley area.

The gate posts, which stand at three metres and weigh three tons each, are inscribed with the school's name in Chinese characters. They were erected at the old campus in 1946 with donations from the graduating class from Chung Cheng High school (Branch), which was next to Nan Chiau High. Nan Chiau High took over the posts from Chung Cheng.

They remained at Kim Yam Road until they were moved on Feb 7, 2021 in preparation for the school's 75th anniversary.

Education Minister Chan Chun Sing views a gate post inscribed with the school's name in Chinese characters at Nan Chiau High on March 8, 2022. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

Although Nan Chiau is now well established in Sengkang, it has not had an easy journey, said principal Siau Fong Fui in a speech at the ceremony.

The school suffered from low enrolment rates after its heyday in the 1970s as the River Valley area matured, meaning fewer children were applying, as well as the difficult transition from being a Chinese-medium to an English-medium school, she said.

Nan Chiau High, as well as Nan Chiau Primary and the Singapore Hokkien Huay Kuan - which both are affiliated to - made the decision for both schools to move to Sengkang in 2000 and through the resilience of its students and staff, have both managed to "soar beyond limitations and in spite of uncertainty", added Ms Siau.

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