Education system needs 'complete rejigging': Balakrishnan

Education system needs 'complete rejigging': Balakrishnan

This is because we need to retool people and not just focus on pre-employment training, but post-employment since everyone is likely to have two or three jobs in their careers, says Minister Vivian Balakrishnan.

SINGAPORE: There is a need to "completely rejig" Singapore's education system, in order to retool people with a focus on not just pre-employment training but on post-employment because they are likely to have two or three jobs in their lifetime, said Foreign Affairs Minister and Minister-in-charge of the Smart Nation Initiative Vivian Balakrishnan on Monday (Jan 25).

Dr Balakrishnan said Singapore's education needs to evolve to encompass what he called the "ABCs" - a sense of aesthetics, the ability to build and communication. On aesthetics, he said there is a need to have a sense of what is beautiful and what resonates with the soul, he explained, during the Kauffman Fellows conference held here.

As for the ability to build, the minister said it is important for people to work with their eyes, hands and brains, especially in an age of mass customisation. The ability to communicate ideas is also essential, he added.

Dr Balakrishnan reiterated that the Republic is a good test-bed location. "If you've got something interesting, something novel or something which could change the world, try it out in Singapore first."

In his address to the 250 venture capitalists, Dr Balakrishnan cited the country's connectivity as well as a level playing field for businesses as plus points.

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Keynote speaker Piyush Gupta, CEO of DBS Bank, said that while Singapore has traditionally been a public-sector driven economy, an ecosystem of private enterprises and start-ups has emerged in the last few years.

But Mr Gupta also noted that “we are very far from where we need to be”, and added that it will take research, funding, commercialisation of the research and the creation of an ecosystem to get there.

Commenting on a “kiasu” culture, or fear of failure in Singapore, the DBS chief said failure was frowned upon in Singapore, while in start-up hotbed Silicon Valley, failure was a “badge of honour”.

“How do you move to a society where failure is accepted, and failure is in fact encouraged?" he asked. "Because the more you fail, the more likely you are to be able to get success. That is a big step for us to take as a country.”

Still, one venture capitalist said Singapore remains one of the most attractive places in the world for start-ups.

"In terms of doing investment in business, Singapore is an incredibly stable platform - just a lot of trust and transparency for doing large investments, and that's very important for VCs (venture capitalists),” said Golden Gate Ventures’ founding partner Vinnie Lauria. “Our businesses are incredibly risky, we don’t want to have to worry about the future of regulation, or not any sort of transparency into what's happening with the companies."

Source: CNA/kk/xq

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