MOE FY2019 Committee of Supply Debate Response by Senior Parliamentary Secretary Low Yen Ling

Published Date: 05 March 2019 12:00 AM

News Speeches

1. Chairman, my colleagues have spoken about the changes we are making in our education landscape, to give all students the best chance to reach their fullest potential, and to support Singaporeans in lifelong learning.

MOTHER TONGUE LANGUAGES

2. Even as we make these bold moves, MOE will continue to invest in our strong fundamentals that have been critical to our success.

3. Bilingualism is an integral part of our national identity, and our mother tongue languages (MTLs) are a cornerstone of the education system. A strong grounding in our MTLs will enable us to engage with the region more effectively. At the same time, we want to help our students stay connected to their heritage, and gain a deeper sense of rootedness.

4. Chairman, please allow me to say a few words in Mandarin.

5. 教育部正在不断的完善我们的母语课程,照顾不同学生的学习需要。我们要提升学生使用母语的信心,鼓励他们在日常生活中多用母语。正如陈佩玲议员昨天所说的,教育部的工作其实需要多方面的配合,家庭环境与家长的支持是至关重要的。举个例子,我们的小学华文课程中加入了生活板块,让家人陪同孩子们一起通过活动,在日常生活中使用华文华语。例如,通过准备一份 “阳光早餐”,小学生和家人一起用华文华语表达烹饪时的步骤以及所需要的食材。这套新的课程得到很好的反响,我们会再接再厉。

6. 教育部会继续和三个推广母语学习委员会,以及我们的社区伙伴和媒体伙伴们紧密合作,在校园里和在社区里推广母语的学习和母语的应用。 “新空下” 全国学生新谣歌唱及创作比赛就是一个很好的例子。我们借新谣激发学生们学习华文华语的兴趣,还鼓励学生们学以致用,从华文的课文中可以吸取灵感,融入他们的歌曲创作。去年,共有一万名学生从活动中受惠并对自己的华文水平更有信心,从而爱上华文。

7. We appreciate Mr Chen Show Mao and Mr Faisal Manap’s suggestions for our students to learn more languages, whether Malay or other ASEAN languages. However, mandating the study of the Malay language as Mr Chen suggests, would mean taking a compulsory third language for some, and that means additional learning load. MOE’s approach has always been a balanced one, which is to make taking a third language optional. We thus introduced Conversational Malay and Chinese in 2005, to allow interested students to learn these languages at an enjoyable pace. Today, about 25,000 students are enrolled in this programme.

8. For students who wish to gain a deeper understanding of Malay or Bahasa Indonesia, we have also introduced the Regional Studies Programme (RSP) for them. We note Mr Faisal Manap’s suggestion to extend the RSP to include more languages, but we should take a calibrated approach as there are resource challenges in opening up more third languages. Notwithstanding this, there is definitely value in having students gain a deeper understanding of the culture and language of other ASEAN countries. Students can do so through student exchange or immersion programmes, which are also available to students who are not enrolled in the RSP.

HOLISTIC EDUCATION

9. Chairman, in today’s fast changing world, MOE is committed to developing our students holistically, to enable them to navigate the future. Participation in co-curricular activities (CCAs) help our students grow in their character and develop their lifelong skills. CCAs provide our students opportunities to discover their interests and talents, while picking up the ability to adapt, be resilient, and overcome challenges.

10. Mr Louis Ng and Ms Cheng Li Hui asked about the allocation of CCA places. All CCAs are designed to provide students opportunities for growth and self-discovery. When allocating CCA places, all schools carefully consider the students’ interests and options within their available resources and facilities, as well as the CCAs’ optimal size, for meaningful engagement between the teachers, instructors and the participants. With these considerations and limitations, some CCAs are allocated based on the students’ strengths, besides their interests. We understand the concerns behind the CCA selections and MOE is studying the current school-based CCA selection process for ways to improve and better support the potential of our students.

11. To support students in CCAs with few members, some schools have come together to pool resources through combined CCA sessions. For example, Greenridge Secondary, Fajar Secondary and Zhenghua Secondary have made arrangements for their Scouts to train together, as a combined inter-school troop. And starting this year, MOE will also be working with Sports Singapore (SportSG) and the National Arts Council (NAC) to offer Athletics and Ethnic Dance to secondary school students whose schools do not offer these CCAs. Now, depending on the outcome of this pilot, we will explore offering this in other CCA areas.

12. Ms Cheng Li Hui also asked about environmental education in schools, which is key in our larger effort to develop students holistically, so that they can become engaged citizens with a passion for the world around them. Lessons on the environment are integrated into various subjects, and students engage in these issues through problem solving and inquiry as well as discussing real-world case studies. For example, in their Science lessons, primary school students discuss what causes pollution, deforestation and global warming, and reflect how their actions can impact the environment. Beyond the classroom, students have opportunities to reinforce their learning through excursions, field work as well as through their CCAs. Many schools have environment clubs where students take part in various projects and activities, and partner the community to promote sustainability.

13. Chairman, as we continually seek to enhance our education pathways to build up the next generation, we hope that their learning journey will prepare them well for the future.

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