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International Education in Transition:Preparing 21st Century Learners:A Perspective from Singapore andHow This Relates to KSA and GCCProf S GopinathanCurriculum, Teaching & LearningAcademic Group
21st Century Education Challengesn How to convert industrial-era education systemsto global knowledge-economy systems?n How do systems ensure better schools – to worktransitions?n How best to harness the power of ICT to benefitstudents and schoolsn How can state systems meet the challenge ofprivate schooling?
Education Reform Responsesn Improving governance to ensure responsible localautonomy – decentralisationn Ensuring systems are flexible, responsive, diversifiedn Enhanced leader and teacher capacity to developschools as learning organisations and teachercapacity for pedagogic innovationn Developing a whole-system approach
Focus on using content to master the competenciesof “Just in-Time Learning”n Rigour is figuring out the right question/problemto be solvedn Exploring questions and new problems withinand across disciplinesn Learners working in teamsn Motivated more by intrinsic rewards (pride inmastery, contributing)Building a Transformation-basedLearning System
n Taught by teamed coaches through inquiry,exploration/ discovery- hands onn Assessed through auditing strategies, digitalportfolios and exhibitions of mastery (meritbadges)T. WagnerBuilding a Transformation-basedLearning System
How did Singaporetransit from ThirdWorld to First Worldin four decades, andw h a t r o l e d i de d u c a t i o n a n dtraining play in this?
Became independent in 1965Small island: 710 sq kmPopulation: 5.183 millionA multi-ethnic society: Chinese (74.1%), Malay (13.4%)Indian (9.2%), other races (3.3%)No natural resources, very dependent on tradeGDP per capita: US$516 (1965); US$43,867 (2010)GDP growth in 2010: 14.7%[Expectations for rest of the decade is 5%]Manufacturing (of GDP): 28%Savings rate (to GDP): 50% (estimated)Expenditure in R&D: S$6.04 billion (2.2% of GDP in 2009)No. of schools / students: 328 / 481,110Expenditure of education: S$9.91billion (21.4%) of budget (2010)S$10.91 billion (23.2%) of budget (2011)(estimated)3.3% of GDP (2010)Singapore: Key Indicators
n Build social cohesion out of ethnic diversity,division and political instabilityn Give citizens a stake via job creation, access toquality public goods - housing, health, educationetcn Singapore’s limitations forced it from thebeginning to be competitive, give priority toeconomic growth, develop new institutions, buildhuman capital before resource distributionKey Post-colonial State-Building Imperatives
n Singapore developed education policies whichemphasise meritocracy, science, mathematics,English.n At the post-secondary level, it expandedtechnology-oriented certificate and diplomacourses at well resourced Institute of TechnicalEducation, five polytechnics.n Five universities currently cater to about 28% ofthe cohort; a cap of 40% by 2020 is envisaged.
n Economic – to transit from an entrepoteconomy to an individual one via export-orientated industrialisation (EOI)n Social – to strengthen unity between the ethnicgroupsn Educational – to build an education systemappropriate to emerging socio-political needsSingapore’s Educational Aims
In order to make a successful economic transition,Singapore needed:n Close linking of manpower and economicprioritiesn An education system with a strong focus onscience and technologyn English to communicate with investors and toseek export marketsn A labour force with relevant industrial skillsSingapore’s Education Journey
Source: How the World’s Most Improved School Systems Keep Getting Better,Mckinsey and Ministry of Education
‘Big bang’ education reforms: 1987-presentGovernment desired to shift economy from labour-intensive to capital and technology intensiveeconomy. Population was growing, expectationswere high and leaders recognised the threat fromother low-wage, low-skill economies in the region.Singapore’s Education Journey
“We have to prepare ourselves for a future ofintense competition and shifting competitiveadvantages, a future of ever increasing changewhere technologies are replaced at an increasingpace.We need schools to be learning organisations andteaching to be a learning profession.”Goh Chok TongPrime Minister, Singapore1997Singapore’s Education Reforms
“We have identified as a key focus the fostering of aculture of innovation and enterprise throughout oureducation system. To prepare students for a future ofrelentless change, schools themselves must keeplooking for ways to improve and stay relevant. Schoolsthemselves have to be models of innovative practices.We must remain open to new ideas and approaches,and at times create new approaches or pedagogicalmethods.”Tharman ShanmugaratnamMinister for Education, Singapore2003Singapore’s Education ReformsKey Goals
Could an efficiency,output driven systemmeet the needs of aknowledge economyand a democraticsociety?
New Initiatives: 1987-2011n Towards Excellence in Educationn Thinking Schools, Learning Nationn IT Master Plan 1, 2 and 3n National Educationn Junior College/Upper Secondary Reportn Curriculum 2015Singapore’s Education Journey
Towards Excellence in Education: Singapore’srapid school expansion efforts had resulted instandardisation. The Excellence Report whichcreated ‘independent schools’ (and laterautonomous schools) was an attempt to devolvegreater management and curriculum authority toschools, as well as to enable the top 20% to benefitfrom an enriched curriculum.Singapore’s Education Reforms
Thinking Schools, Learning Nation (1997): tointroduce critical and creative thinking, morediversity in curriculum, resourcing to encourageteacher-led pedagogic innovationTeach Less, Learn More (2003): strengthenedschool-based curriculum development, teacheraction research, more customised professionaldevelopmentSingapore’s Education Reforms
IT Master Plans:To exploit the potentialof information andcommunicationtechnology to givestudents access to newinformation sources andmake anytime,anywhere learningpossibleSingapore’s Education Reforms
National Education:Designed to betteracquaint students withtheir own history, tostrengthen civiccommitments, andprotect and defendSingapore’s corevaluesSingapore’s Education Reforms
Singapore has shifted from a rigid system to a moreflexible and responsive system, a system ofladders and bridges.Singapore’s secondary system provides differenttracks and subjects to meet a range of abilities andneeds. Some 30% of less academically inclinedstudents take vocational and technical subjects,and schools build close links to Institutes ofTechnical Education and polytechnics.Singapore’s Education ReformsDiversified Secondary Structure
Specialised schools:§ Singapore Sports School§ School of the Arts§ NUS School of Mathematics and Science§ School of Science and Technology§ Future Schools (IT pilots)§ Independent and IP schools§ NorthLight / Assumption PathwaySingapore’s Education ReformsDiversified Secondary Structure
New ITE Headquarters (1995) New ITE Bishan Institute(1994)ITE College East (2005)Institute of Technical Education‘Perhaps the best in the world’ (OECD)
Singapore’s Education ReformsTeacher Capacity Buildingn 100 hours of professional developmententitlement per year inclusive of workattachmentsn More opportunities for postgraduate studyn Teachers Network; Academy of SingaporeTeachersn Senior / Master Teachers, Research Activistsn Systemic training for school leaders since mid1980s. Principals are both instructional leadersand change agents.
Results:n Singapore had created a system of ‘highaverages’ with high levels of post-secondaryparticipation in further training and education.n Lower attrition, more students having vocationaltechnical opportunities and closer education-economy, fit was achieved.Singapore’s Education Reforms
Results:n Education and skill levels have gone upsubstantially in the last 20 years.n Workforce has a strong work-ethic, iscollaborative rather than confrontational and hasmuch improved opportunities for re-training.n Government investment in R&D is rapidlyincreasing and prospects in knowledge-basedindustries e.g. pharmaceuticals are good.Singapore’s Education Reforms
Table 1: PISA 2009 OECD and TIMSS 2007 European Scores with Singapore.Note: Spain, Portugal and Finland did not take part in TIMSS 2007.PISA 2009 Reading Literacy Math Literacy Science Literacy OECD Spain 481 (26) 483 (28) 488 (28) Portugal 489 (22) 487 (27) 493 (25) Germany 497 (16) 513 (10) 520 (9) Finland 536 (2) 541 (2) 554 (1) UK 494 (20) 492 (22) 514 (11) Non-‐OECD Singapore 526 (3) 562 (2) 542 (3) TIMSS 2007 Math Literacy Science Literacy 4th Grade 8th Grade 4th Grade 8th Grade Germany 525 (12) -‐ 528 (11) -‐ England 541 (7) 513 (7) 542 (7) 542 (5) Singapore 599 (2) 593 (3) 587 (1) 567 (1)
Top Five Countries in Math Scores on TIMSSYear/ Level 2007 2003 1999Eighth graders Chinese Taipei Singapore SingaporeKorea, Republic of Korea, Republic of Korea, Republic ofSingapore Hong Kong SAR Chinese TaipeiHong Kong SAR Chinese Taipei Hong Kong SARJapan Japan Japan
Positions Reading Mathematics Science1st Shanghai, China Shanghai, China Shanghai, China2nd Korea, Republic of Singapore Finland (Finnish)3rd Finland (Finnish) Hong Kong SAR Finland4th Finland Korea, Republic of Hong Kong SAR5th Hong Kong SAR Chinese Taipei Singapore6th Singapore Finland (Finnish) JapanComparisons of PISA 2009
“While much progress has been made, especially inelementary education, secondary school graduatesare considered unprepared to directly enter thelabor market or competitive university programmes.Low share of students … in science, mathematics,engineering and technology, and low rates ofobtaining post-secondary degrees.”Rand- Qatar Policy InstituteA worrying mismatch between schooling outcomes,student aspirations and labour market needs of aknowledge economy.
Critical Success Factorsn Strong direction by the MOEn Key national priorities were identified andresources allocated. Enhanced human capitalskills is seen as crucial to economicrestructuring.
n There was an acceptance of the need to takeunpopular decisions eg retention of English. Inthe 1960s, then less than 20% of the populationwas English-proficient.n Careful mix of certificate, diploma and graduatequalifications: 27% go to universities, 40% topolytechnics and 20% to Institute of TechnicalEducationCritical Success Factors
n Curriculum modernisation – strong emphasis onScience, Mathematics, languages andtechnology. Academic rigour is emphasised.n While a strong academic core is maintained andexaminations are taken seriously, more attentionis being paid to curriculum diversificationstretching the talented and supporting theweakest.n Reform of examinations to test for 21st centurycompetencies is given priority.Critical Success Factors
Pedagogic changes necessary for developing 21stcentury skills in students require a re-culturing ofschools, capacity building for teachers and leaders,a reform of curriculum and assessment, andresponsible autonomy.Fresh thinking about how schools are to beaccountable and confidence building among keystakeholders to support change is vital.
“There is a disconnect between implementation ofreforms and evaluation … there needs to be aninvestment in collecting data… using evaluationresults in decision making, and opportunities toshare lessons across countries.”Gonzalez Rand- Qatar Policyat al (nd) Institute
Ministry of Education (2011). Secondary EducationReview and Implementation Report. Singapore:Ministry of Education.Ministry of Education (2002). Report of the JuniorCollege-Upper Secondary Education ReviewCommittee. Singapore: Ministry of Education.Goh, C. T. (1997, June). Shaping our future:Thinking schools, learning nation. Speechpresented at the opening of the 7th InternationalConference on Thinking, Singapore.Key References
Gopinathan, S. (2007). Globalisation, the Singaporedevelopmental state, and education policy: Athesis revisited. Globalisation, Societies andEducation, 5(1), 53-70.Gopinathan, S., & Sharpe, L. (1999). Preparing forthe next rung: Economic restructuring andeducational reform in Singapore. Journal ofEducation and Work, 12(3).Key References
McKinsey & Company (2007). How the world’sbest-performing school systems come out ontop.McKinsey & Company (2010). How the world’smost improved school systems keep gettingbetter.Key References
Lee, S. K., Goh, C. B., Fredriksen, B., & Tan, J. P.(2008). Toward a better future: Education andtraining for economic development in Singaporesince 1965. Washington: World Bank, Singapore:National Institute of Education.Key References