Speech by Minister for Education, Mr Chan Chun Sing, at the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Signing Ceremony Between SUTD and Ecole 42

Published Date: 23 November 2021 04:00 PM

News Speeches

Mr Lee Tzu Yang, Chairman SUTD

Your Excellency Mr Marc Abensour, Ambassador of France to Singapore

Ms Sophie Viger, CEO of 42

1. A very good afternoon to all of you in Singapore and good morning to those in Paris. It is my pleasure to join you all, to witness the MOU signing between SUTD and 42.

2. This partnership has been in the making for a couple of years since November 2019.

3. While the pandemic has restricted cross-border exchanges, I'm glad that 42 has made it to our shores. This partnership allows us to experience cutting-edge French education in Singapore through SUTD and Ecole 42.

4. Singapore and France share common objectives in our skills agenda.

  1. We want to ensure that our citizens are equipped with the right skills for jobs, and have opportunities to pursue skills mastery throughout their careers.
  2. This helps every individual to maximise his or her potential, and make the greatest contribution that he or she can to our society and our economy.

5. In Singapore, we have invested significant effort to create multiple pathways of success for Singaporeans to pursue skills mastery, regardless of their starting points.

6. The partnership between SUTD and 42 is a welcome addition to this landscape. It is a new skills-based pathway for students and mid-career individuals who are keen to pursue a tech career. This will contribute to the pipeline of tech talent that is required to meet industry needs.

Embracing New and Innovative Models of Education and Training

7. 42 is a trailblazer in innovative education, offering a unique approach to learning that we welcome here in Singapore.

  1. Instead of classroom-based lessons delivered by teachers or lecturers, 42 provides higher education with no teachers, classes, or even books.
  2. Students acquire in-demand skills and industry knowledge through real-world projects, and sharpen their skills by learning from their peers of different backgrounds.
  3. Anyone above 18 can apply, regardless of prior academic performance. Applicants are admitted solely on the basis of their aptitude and skills, which are assessed through a bootcamp.
  4. Students can benefit from this education without having to pay tuition fees.

8. These are elements that Singapore very much wants to achieve for our higher education and skills ecosystem as well. A pedagogy that is more attuned to the needs and learning styles of adult learners. One that relies almost entirely on self-directed learning.

9. The aptitude and skills-based admission is also very much in the spirit of various new policies that we have introduced in the Ministry of Education (MOE).

  1. Since last year, the Autonomous Universities have expanded their practice of aptitude-based admissions. They are now relying less on academic grades, and more on other yardsticks of merit such as the interests and non-academic achievements of applicants, so that a more holistic range of aptitude and attributes can be considered.
  2. Similarly, the polytechnics and Institute of Technical Education (ITE) have introduced aptitude-based admissions to select and admit students based on their aptitudes and passions.

10. I hope to see more of such innovative models of teaching and learning proliferate in our higher education and skills landscape.

  1. I am looking forward to the success of this partnership between SUTD and Ecole 42 and to scale this partnership further to transform the way we produce talent for the growing ICT sector. And maybe in time to come we can also apply the same methodology together with Ecole 42, in other sectors as well.
  2. Both Ecole 42 and SUTD have a very unique pedagogy and I hope that through this collaboration, the two institutions can learn from one other and redefine undergraduate degrees and lifelong learning programmes.
  3. I hope to see similar innovative pedagogies being applied for training for other sectors beyond ICT.
  4. Such innovations will certainly help to enrich the diversity of education pathways in Singapore and France.

Strengthening Education-Industry Nexus

11. This partnership also reinforces the need for us to strengthen the education-industry nexus in Singapore.

  1. Our Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) need to infuse more industry elements into their programmes, so that curriculum can be more industry relevant and real-world.
  2. 42's heavy emphasis on real-world projects, and learning from peers with prior industry experience, are learning modalities that I hope to see more of in our IHLs.
  3. To achieve this, the faculty in our IHLs will need to be able to bring in such real-world projects to the classroom. This requires our faculty to have deep industry experience and networks.

12. Through these efforts, we can better equip IHL graduates and lifelong learners with the skills that the industry needs, and position them well for their careers throughout their lives.

  1. We will also provide companies in Singapore with a pipeline of the right talent to drive their growth and we will have Singapore continue to be attractive to global companies seeking to invest and create jobs here.

Strengthening International Exchanges

13. I earlier mentioned that the pandemic has restricted cross-border exchange opportunities for students. While air travel may not return to pre-COVID-19 levels soon, we will continue exploring overseas learning opportunities for our students, both virtual, and in-person where it is safe to do so.

14. These are important because we want our students to develop a global and a regional outlook. While physical trips have been affected by the pandemic, our '70-70' vision remains an important long-term aspirational target for MOE.

  1. Under our '70-70' vision, 70% of local IHL students will participate in overseas exposure programmes and 70% of this group will have exposure in ASEAN, China or India.

15. I look forward to further discussions with our French colleagues on how we can resume student exchanges between France and Singapore, and find other ways to preserve interactions between our students and faculty.


16. On this note, I would like to thank Ecole 42 for your partnership, the French embassy in Singapore for your work behind the scene to bring this about, and I wish SUTD and Ecole 42 every success in this new and meaningful programme.

17. Thank you.

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