Speech By Mr S Iswaran, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Trade & Industry, Ministry of Education, at the 2010 MOE Promotion Ceremony on Friday, 9 April 2010, 4.00pm, at the Suntec Singapore Ballroom
Mr Masagos Zulkifli,
Senior Parliamentary Secretary,
Ministry of Education and Ministry of Home Affairs
Ms Ho Peng,
Director-General of Education
Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to be with you on this happy occasion. We come together to extend our warmest congratulations to the 661 Education Officers who have been promoted to the Senior Education Officer 1 Grade, as well as 11 Allied Educators (AED) and 43 Executive and Administrative Staff (EAS) who have been promoted to the equivalent timescale grades. These promotions recognise the contributions and good performance of these officers. Many of you will be given added responsibilities and I am sure that you will rise to the challenge of the tasks ahead.
Our education system has done well but has to continuously evolve to ensure that it remains relevant to prepare our young adequately for the needs of their future. This is why we want to emphasise 21st century competencies — skills which provide them with that extra edge not only to survive but thrive when they leave our schools to enter the modern workplace. We want to cultivate in our students important soft skills, the right values and hone their ability to communicate effectively in a globalised world. This is why we are placing greater emphasis on the teaching and learning of the English Language and the Mother Tongue Languages. This is also the reason why we are enhancing PE, Art and Music (PAM) programmes as they are rich platforms through which skills and values can be imbued. Even as we do so, we must continue to maintain high standards in Mathematics and Science which are key fundamentals of a technologically–driven world. There is of course much to be done but I am confident that the MOE family — Education Officers, Allied Educators, and Executive and Administrative Staff in schools and MOE HQ — will be equal to the task and push on.
Growing the Education Service
We are recruiting more teachers and AEDs to meet the expanded scope of our educational efforts. There are now more than 30,000 teachers in our schools. We are on track to grow our teaching force to 33,000 by 2015, including more language and PAM teachers.
MOE is mindful that teachers too have different strengths and aptitudes. The three career tracks of the Education Service offer different pathways to match varied professional aspirations. Under the Leadership Track, 35 new Principals were appointed last year. This year, 53 Principals will be promoted in grade. Through the Senior Specialist Track, we now have 167 Senior Specialists, an increase of 28 from last year. A total of 26 Senior Specialists will be promoted this year, including 2 Lead Specialists who are being promoted to the Superscale H substantive grade.
Strengthening Pedagogical Excellence
At last year’s Work Plan Seminar, MOE announced a set of enhancements to strengthen the Teaching Track. These included the creation of the Principal Master Teacher as a new Superscale–grade apex appointment and the introduction of the Lead Teacher appointment in schools. In January this year, we appointed four Principal Master Teachers — Mdm Aw Wai Lin, Ms Connie Seng and Mdm Ng Tai Cheen and Mrs Davamoni Regina. We also appointed 11 new Master Teachers. In total, there are now four Principal Master Teachers and 29 Master Teachers. We will continue to grow this pool of expert teachers. As Teachers of Teachers, Principal Master Teachers and Master Teachers can make a great impact on other teachers and students. Let me provide one example.
Mdm Aw Wai Lin is a Principal Master Teacher who is known for her expertise in Science education. She has pushed many school–based innovations in curriculum and helped developed teachers. She has also led the Community of Practice for Primary Science teachers at the national level and spearheaded the implementation of a digital repository for South Zone teachers to share their teaching resources. Mdm Aw is the first Principal Master Teacher to be promoted to the Superscale H substantive grade.
At the school level, we have appointed a pioneer batch of 31 Lead Teachers on 1 April 2010. Let me share two examples of how these Lead Teachers have made a difference.
Mdm Yeo Koy Kheow, a Lead Teacher for Chinese Language in Chung Cheng High School (Yishun), is well–respected teacher and known for her effective teaching methods. As part of her action research, she uses local Chinese literary works to raise our students’ awareness of local culture. She helps other language teachers in her school hone their skills and also oversees the induction programme for new teachers.
Mdm Rahimah Salim, a Lead Teacher for Economics in Anglo–Chinese Junior College (ACJC), utilises problem–based learning to more effectively teach the subject to students. She has also groomed her colleagues into Senior Teachers, and mentors beginning teachers in her school and within the cluster. Rahimah, Koy Kheow and five other Lead Teachers have been promoted to the SEO 1A1 substantive grade.
Developing Education Partners
Strengthening Teaching Support
Let me provide an update on the Allied Educator Scheme. In just one year, we have tripled the number of allied educators from 383 in January 2009 to 1,417 in December 2009. We are on track to achieve our target of 2,800 allied educators by 2016.
We have gathered feedback from schools and even though it is early days, some AEDs are already making a positive impact. For example, Mr Simon Raj, an AED (Teaching & Learning) from Assumption English School, has partnered teachers and parents to reduce the number of students skipping school. As a result, these students are turning in better quality work.
Many allied educators find fulfilment in this career path as they value the opportunity to make a difference to students’ lives. For example, Mrs Florence Loo is an AED (Counselling) at Mayflower Primary School who has won the respect of her colleagues for her knowledge and experience in the field of counselling. Besides providing individual and group counselling sessions, Florence has developed anger and stress management programmes for students as well as support programmes for international students. She also collaborates extensively with healthcare and social service agencies and plays a leading role in mentoring other AEDs (Counselling) in her zone.
Enhancing Career Opportunities for EAS
A good team of Executive and Administrative Staff is vital to ensure that a school functions smoothly so that teachers can focus on helping students learn. Recognising their value to the system, MOE introduced in 2008 better career prospects for good EAS officers. For example, 7 corporate support officers are now on the Management Support Scheme and 3 of them have been promoted to Management Support Officer Grade V this year.
We have also steadily increased the number of Vice–Principals (Administration) to 67 this year. Their expertise and initiative can empower schools to better achieve learning outcomes. For example, Ms Komathi Suppiah, the Vice–Principal (Administration) at Jurong Secondary School, oversaw the redesign and construction of classrooms and other indoor learning spaces in the school and introduced a financial support scheme to help needy students develop their talents in sports, aesthetics, innovation and leadership.
Pursuit of Professional Excellence
Our education system is only as good as the people running it — management, principals, VPs, teachers, allied educators and support staff. MOE is, therefore, building new engines to drive professional excellence within the education force. An academy of Singapore teachers will be launched later this year as the professional home for our teachers. It will play a leading role in in–service professional development and pedagogical innovation. This academy will also support the training needs of our allied educators and EAS as members of the school team.
In line with our emphasis on building 21st century competencies, the English Language Institute of Singapore (ELIS), together with the Singapore Centre for Chinese Language (SCCL), the Malay Language Centre of Singapore (MLCS), and the Umar Pulavar Tamil Language Centre (UPTLC), will raise the quality of language instruction to a higher level. Similarly, two other teacher academies will be set up, one for Physical Education (PE) and Sports and the other for Music and Art. These will place a new emphasis on professional excellence in PE, art and music education.
These institutions, together with the Professional Learning Communities in schools, will form a strong architecture designed to support professional excellence in every school and classroom in Singapore. But, these initiatives will succeed only if professional leaders within your community take ownership and drive its programmes. We have a good education system now. If we focus our collective energies in the next decade to help these programmes succeed, we can have a great education system.
Let me conclude by once again congratulating all the officers who have been promoted this year. Well done and keep up the excellent work!