What can we expect from the Annual Education Workplan 2020?
Updated: Jul 6, 2020
A summary of Education Minister, Ong Ye Kung's 20 minutes work plan seminar 2020 on what to expect in our education system and how it has revolved around COVID-19.
Picture taken from the Workplan Seminar that was shared on Facebook
Education has always played a vital role in our society and knowing the initiatives that have been planned out give us a better understanding. Our Education Minister, Ong Ye Kung, gave an opening address on Sunday, 28th June, on what we can expect from this plan. He mentioned that "COVID-19 is changing everything in the world including the education system." Our Singapore's education's mission is to: “Learn for Life” which is accelerated by our pandemic. One thing he pointed out was the increase in emphasis on Character and Civic Moral education in our curriculum to bring about greater personal and social responsibility and reduce the emphasis on grades and academics.
These are the 4 initiatives that we can expect from our education system:
Normalise Home-based Learning (HBL)
For our families without supervision for their child, no worries, the introduction of HBL will be complemented with regular schools. Consider this as an upgrade from e-learning.
We realise the need to be digital-savvy in the 21st century and there is no avoidance of digital education. Mr Ong mentioned that with HBL, students will be able to better cope with their learning as they can do so at their pace and pose questions to teachers with greater ease. This also encourages more independent and self-directed learning.
For teachers, this is also a good sign as their efforts in going digital can also mean that more of their attention can be translated to the students too. With the resources that they curate for online learning, students have a foundation that they can easily refer to as well.
He acknowledged that schools are still needed for the social process of education. Schools will still exist for the physical interaction that our young should have with peers of their age. Schools are designed as a safer space where students can build up soft skills and make connections.
National Digital Literacy Programme
Every secondary school student will be provided with a personal learning device to ready themselves for an online curriculum by 2021. The original plan was to do so by 2028 but this has to be implemented quickly to deliver online lessons that are needed right now.
Mr Ong also notes the concerns over cyber addiction and wellness have to be taken into consideration before they launch this officially to the masses. Covid-19 has helped in the mass adoption of online learning, but it has also highlighted the digital divide. As noted, it is a gap that they aim to close up by providing more financial assistance.
Digital literacy is a tool for life for our young as it is a step towards a digital-inclusive nation.
Uplifting students from vulnerable background
With the introduction of HBL back in April, schools were not able to provide the less advantaged students with meal vouchers which they previously did. The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund started issuing cash and that was when they found out that
"⅓ of the P1 students do not have bank accounts."
This suggests that manual work is needed to pass money physically to the more vulnerable people. Mr Ong highlighted that "in time, e-payments may become the default payment system". In order to ensure our participation in the future economy, we need to be both digitally and financially plugged in. In light of this, schools will begin teaching financial literacy about the virtue of savings and beyond just physical cash.
He also mentioned two accounts that the government will introduce to promote better financial inclusion in a digital age:
Child Development Account (CDA) → the government would be giving $3000 as a first step grant for pre-school fees and medical expenses to help cover those from lower-income backgrounds and those who “fall in the cracks”
Child Savings Account (CSA) → A savings account for parents to manage secured with PayNow or SingPass
The two accounts would make it a lot easier for students to receive monies from awards and financial aid.
As schools come in to teach students financial literacy, Taby hopes to complement this by giving parents the tool to help them cultivate good money habits real-time, through experiential learning.
Expand inter-disciplinary learnings in institutes of higher learning
Lastly, Mr Ong spoke about the changing landscape of education. Good tertiary qualifications today are a thing of a past. Our younger generation lives in a rapidly advancing world where industries are ever-changing and challenges require inter-disciplinary learnings.
There is a need to reset the competitive playing field for the young to make sure they are adaptable and versatile lifelong learners. They need to be equipped with a broader set of skills that give would them a strong foundation so that they will have a head start to dive deep and specialise when they discovered their interests.
In time to come, polytechnics and universities will see a revamp of their curriculum which would ensure that students are not only well-versed in one discipline but would also have the preparedness to take on jobs that would require them to have knowledge and skills in complementary disciplines as well.
Post Covid-19 education
The Covid-19 has taught us that we must remain resilient and versatile in any situation. With new crises comes new opportunities and we must learn to find strength in such times and look towards a brighter future, not just for ourselves but our children as well.
Transcript of his seminar can be found on MOE's website here.