Soft skills

Published Date: 02 November 2020 09:00 PM

News Parliamentary Replies


Dr Tan Wu Meng, Jurong GRC


To ask the Minister for Education (a) how are soft skills inculcated, nurtured and evaluated in our education system; (b) how is the impact of e-learning and digitalisation on soft skills acquisition being assessed; and (c) what measures are being taken to ensure that soft skills continue to be learned amidst COVID-19 safe distancing measures including in higher education.


1. Soft skills like Critical and Inventive Thinking, Collaboration and Information skills, Civic Literacy and interpersonal skills, are part of what educators around the world commonly term as 21st Century Competencies. MOE strives to develop ‘21CC’ in every student to enable them to thrive in a fast-changing and increasingly inter-connected world. These competencies are developed through both curricular and co-curricular activities.

2. For example, through group work, students learn communication and collaboration skills, and how to manage relationships with peers. In learning humanities, students develop stronger global awareness and cross-cultural understanding. In learning sciences, students are exposed to the inquiry process and inventive thinking of scientists. Beyond the classroom, Co-Curricular and Values-in-Action activities are platforms that enable students to deepen their mastery of 21CC through rich and authentic learning opportunities.

3. When students progress to the Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs), they continue to develop soft skills through their course programmes and applied learning opportunities such as industry attachments, internships and community service programmes. In addition, the IHLs are enhancing their curriculum to provide students with more multi-disciplinary and inter-disciplinary exposure. This will help broaden students’ perspectives and encourage trans-disciplinary thinking and approaches to problem-solving.

4. Schools and institutions gauge the impact on student outcomes through regular programme reviews as well as student feedback. In recent times, with greater use of technology and digital platforms, soft skills can be nurtured through online and offline learning experiences that reinforce each other. For example, students learn interpersonal and collaboration skills through both in-person group work and through the use of online collaboration tools.

5. Even with safe management measures in place, our schools and IHLs seek to ensure that students spend sufficient time in face-to-face interactions, be it in classrooms, CCAs or other activities, so that they can benefit from a more holistic education experience. For example, schools will be allowed to further resume activities that are held outside of school and those that involve fixed inter-mingling of students across schools, during their post-exam period. IHLs have also progressively increased the number of students allowed back on campus for in-person learning. Classes and consultations, previously conducted online, are allowed to resume, with no more than 50 persons per class.

6. MOE is taking incremental steps to resume more of such in-person activities safely in schools and IHLs. We will continue to help ensure that our students and graduates are future-ready by progressively developing their soft skills at each stage of the education journey.

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