The MOE corporate brochure, which is available for anyone to download, is a reassuring document to many who are seeking a Singapore Education for their children. According to the document, Singapore’s education system is ranked, No 1 in terms of the ability to meet the needs of a competitive economy in The Global Competitiveness Report. Singapore students are also ranked among the top in Reading, Mathematics and Science under PISA, Programme for International Student Assessment, 2009.
Yet there are disgruntled parents and participants during the education workshops which I gave. One activity I usually do is to ask participants to draw a picture on what they think is our local system. In one workshop, I have one participant who drew a prison bar. There were strong reactions to the early streaming, allocating of resources to “good” schools, etc.
Parents can easily find out what are the competencies that their children should have through this document on the landing page of MOE website. It is aptly titled “Nurturing our Young for the Future, Competencies for the 21st Century” The 5 page document shares about core values and what schools are hoping to achieve for the students that pass through their doors.
Let me extract the four key areas that form the core of the values from the brochure: (Source: MOE 21st Century Competencies
I believe the policy makers and those who have thought through the necessary competencies of the 21st Century for our students, did not make a trivial study. They dig deep and consulted many many schools and people. But are we looking at 21st Century competencies and trying to measure them with 20th Century instruments?
Perhaps we need to re-look at our strategy formulation? One way might be to adopt a Blue Ocean Strategy approach in re-looking at our current education system.
- BOS covers both strategy formulation and strategy execution.
- The three key conceptual building blocks of BOS are: value innovation, tipping point leadership, and fair process.
- While competitive strategy is a structuralist theory of strategy where structure shapes strategy, BOS is a reconstructionist theory of strategy where strategy shapes structure.
- As an integrated approach to strategy at the system level, BOS requires organizations to develop and align the three strategy propositions: value proposition, profit proposition and people proposition.(Source: http://www.blueoceanstrategy.com/abo/about_bos.html)
Until a more detailed study is made, I will like to suggest to the Minister of Education the following for consideration:
a) Master and Disciple – a mentoring approach
Bring back the concept of the Master and Disciple in the school. Each child should have a mentor who can guide him for a period of 2 years. This mentor can be subject based or interest based or just a more senior teacher in the school. Each mentor teacher should not have more than 20 students. Any number bigger than this defeats the purpose. It is tough for the teacher to juggle teaching, mentoring and CCA committments.
b) Enlarging the Portfolio component
Modify the mode of assessment for entry considerations to the next step in learning. As long as the critical “O”, “A”, “N”, “PSLE” exams are in place, it is very difficult to change the way lessons are delivered. With limited time and resources the mode of assessment becomes a key driving force in curriculum matters.
In many universities, there is a portfolio component now. Schools with DSA now use both portfolios and interviews as a mean to recruit new students.
c) Values education through animals
World Animal Day will be celebrated in Singapore Sports School next week. I am one of the invited speakers, invited to share about my ten year journey to understand dogs and cats. A geeky kind of person, I have never never really interacted with dogs and cats. The only cat I knew was kept by my mum to help keep the old house free of rats. (Watch this space: more of that in the next blog post)
“World Animal Day is celebrated each year on October 4. It started in Florence, Italy in 1931 at a convention of ecologists. On this day, animal life in all its forms is celebrated, and special events are planned on locations all over the globe. 4 October was originally chosen for World Animal Day because it is the feast day of Francis of Assisi, a nature lover and patron saint of animals and the environment. Numerous churches throughout the world observe the Sunday closest to 4 October with a Blessing for the Animals. ” – Source Wikipedia