Singapore's education system undergoing 'overwhelming adjustment': Ong Ye Kung

Education Minister (Higher Education and Skills) Ong Ye Kung casting his vote for the lyf@SMU co-living concept room design. PHOTO: ASCOTT

SINGAPORE - Singapore's education system is undergoing an "overwhelming" adjustment to prepare students for the new economy though it may appear unchanged on the outside, like a computer, said Education Minister (Higher Education and Skills) Ong Ye Kung on Sunday morning.

"But inside, the operating system is changing, the algorithm is changing. From the Education Ministry's perspective, that is an overwhelming adjustment," he told reporters on the sidelines of a community event in Sembawang.

Mr Ong cited recently-announced tweaks like the expansion of aptitude-based admissions in polytechnics and the Institute of Technical Education, as well as the extension of subject-based banding in schools, as examples of how students are being encouraged to pursue their passions and talents.

"Altogether, I think we are taking meaningful steps towards changing the way education should work for our children so that they grow up fully prepared for the changes (in the economy)," added Mr Ong, who is part of the Sembawang Group Representation Constituency (GRC).

Commenting on the 2017 Budget debate, which ended on Thursday (March 9) after eight days of parliamentary sittings, Mr Ong said the Government's financial plans for the year did not involve a huge fiscal adjustment.

Instead of building new infrastructure like universities, smaller adjustments that change the way things are done can help Singapore stay ahead of the curve in the disruptive economy, he added.

"There were some (smaller) adjustments (for changing how we) consume resources like water or energy...(but) this economic exercise is about us doing things differently from before,"said Mr Ong.

Together with fellow MP Dr Lim Wee Kiak, he gave out awards to some 330 students in the Canberra ward that is part of the Sembawang GRC.

The students received Education Merit Awards (EMA) for their good academic performance, which is a new award category given out for the first time.

The EMAs are jointly funded by the North West Community Development Council and the Canberra Citizens' Consultative Committee.

Unlike the MOE's Edusave Merit Bursary, the awards do not require a student's gross monthly household income to be under a certain limit.

In addition, 185 students were given the Canberra Education Award for their academic performance and good conduct.

Dr Lim said the award - given to students with good grades but who miss out on the Edusave bursary - acts as an incentive to encourage them to do better.

"We want to give them a small award to spur them on, so that they can achieve the bursary award next year," he added.

Correction note: In our earlier story, we said the Budget debate ended on Friday. It should be Thursday (March 9). We are sorry for the error.

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