SINGAPORE: Measures will be announced in the coming days to “significantly improve” the education system, said Education Minister Ong Ye Kung on Sunday (Feb 17).
He added that this will be the “third thrust” in the Ministry of Education’s (MOE) continued push to encourage learning for life.
“It will be a significant thrust … it will be again a multi-year effort which I think will significantly improve the education system,” Mr Ong said on the sidelines of a ministerial community visit to Sengkang.
He did not give details, saying only that it will be announced during the upcoming Committee of Supply debates, which will be held in the days after Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat delivers the Budget 2019 statement in Parliament on Monday.
The first thrust of MOE’s efforts to improve the education system involves a move to reduce the exam load, to reduce the emphasis on academic results. This is to improve the “balance between the joy of learning and the rigour of education”, Mr Ong had said.
The second thrust involved the setting up of an inter-agency task force to look into strengthening support for under-performing students from disadvantaged families. The task force is headed by Second Minister for Education Indranee Rajah.
When asked if the 4th generation of younger leaders played a role in preparing Budget 2019, Mr Ong said: “It’s not just the budget debate but any announcement now coming from any of the younger ministers, it’s a good chance that we have gone through a debate and careful deliberation before coming up with new policies.”
On his ministerial community visit, Mr Ong noted that the younger ministers have completed 30 of the 90 visits they had planned to make to all constituencies in Singapore.
“We have done about 30; 60 more to go. If we work hard, maybe we can finish it in a year and three months,” he said.
“Every week we are out here in the open. Residents sometimes are surprised to see us but I think we get the conversation going, have a good sense of ground worries, concerns and what they are happy about, what they are not so happy about.”
When asked if this was part of a shifting of gears into election mode, Mr Ong said: “If it’s a shifting of gears, it would have started three years ago, because we’ve been walking the ground quite hard the last three years. So I suppose the day we finish elections, we change gears to prepare for the next election.”