Source: StraitsTimes, May 2016
Already, in the early stages of primary education, exams have become a thing of the past. Pupils are increasingly being encouraged to express themselves. Applied learning is in, along with the development of character and life skills.
Educators said the shift in emphasis is to help arm students with life skills. Old-school rote learning and memorising have given way to applying textbook knowledge to real-world scenarios and more current content. Language lessons and assessment now place more weight on communication skills to help students converse in English and mother tongues more confidently.
MOE is also placing a stronger emphasis on outdoor education. Under a physical education syllabus introduced in 2014, 10 to 20 per cent of curriculum time in primary and secondary schools is set aside for outdoor education.
A report last year by the World Economic Forum titled New Vision of Education said that to thrive in today’s innovation-driven economy, employees need a different mix of skills than in the past.
“In addition to foundational skills like literacy and numeracy, they need competencies like collaboration, creativity and problem-solving, and character qualities like persistence, curiosity and initiative,” the report said.
“In countries around the world, economies run on creativity, innovation and collaboration. Skilled jobs are more and more centred on solving unstructured problems and effectively analysing information.”
As Mr Ng put it in his speech to Parliament during the debate on his ministry’s budget: “We want to cultivate a generation of young people who grow up with a sense of curiosity and a love for learning… asking both the ‘whys’ and the ‘why nots’.”