MOE FY2018 Committee Of Supply Debate Response By Senior Parliamentary Secretary For Education, A/P Dr Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim
1. Mr Speaker, both Minister Ng and Minister Ong spoke about preparing our children for a changing future. It is our goal to provide every child with the opportunity to get a good start in life, discover his strengths and interests, and help him realise his potential. As we prepare our children to be future-ready, we want them to develop holistically. We want to cater to the diverse interests of our students with multiple pathways and different options.
2. This is also what parents want. I know, as a father of two children. We all share the same goal – we want the best for our children, and to bring out the best in them.
STRONG PARTNERSHIP WITH PARENTS AND THE COMMUNITY
3. That is why we must work together, as strong school-home-community partnerships will lead to better student outcomes. Over the years, we have made significant efforts and progress in building enduring partnerships with parents, the community and industry partners to support our schools and students, and we will continue to build upon these efforts.
Partnership to Expose Students to Sports
4. Parents are a child’s first teacher. Together with the teachers in schools, they are crucial in supporting our children in discovering their strengths, and achieving their aspirations. This includes our efforts in exposing our children to a broad range of diverse sports, and developing those with sporting talent, which was raised by Mr Edwin Tong.
5. As Minister Ng shared, we have put in place various programmes to expose and nurture our students in this area. I am glad that many parents and community partners also recognise the value of sports being inculcated in our young, and partner schools to provide our children with the opportunities to try out different games and sports.
6. If you were to visit Lianhua Primary School on a Saturday morning, you will see it bustling with energy, with students playing soccer in the field, while others play tennis in the sports hall. These are, however, not school-based programmes but community programmes led by professional football club, Warriors FC, as well as SC Global and Singapore Tennis Association. Parents see to the logistics, take attendance and contribute in ways to ensure a smooth running of the programme. Such partnerships augment schools’ programmes, offer our students more options, and expose them to a wider range of sports.
Partnership to make Mother Tongue Languages Come Alive
7. We also recognise the importance of bringing together community and industry partners whose expertise and resources can extend the knowledge and learning in schools through authentic contexts.
8. This is particularly relevant in the learning of our Mother Tongue Languages. For instance, the teaching of the Malay Language does not just belong to the Cikgu or the parents. It also involves the Malay community coming together to deepen our students’ sense of their own culture and rich heritage. The Perkasa Warisan Camp designed for our Primary 4 students is one such initiative. Allow me to elaborate more about the camp in Malay.
9. Kem Perkasa Warisan merupakan kerjasama antara pemimpin akar umbi Jawatankuasa Eksekutif Aktiviti Melayu (MAEC) dan Kumpulan Kerja Anugerah Guru Arif Budiman (AGAB) dengan sokongan oleh NParks dan Jawatankuasa Pembelajaran dan Penggalakan Penggunaan Bahasa Melayu (MLLPC). Bertemakan Gastronomi Melayu, para pelajar akan berpeluang untuk belajar tentang ulam-ulaman Melayu di luar bilik darjah lalu mengaplikasikan pengetahuan tersebut untuk menyediakan hidangan ulam-ulaman yang berkhasiat dan berkongsi idea-idea mereka dengan rakan-rakan dan ibu bapa mereka secara kreatif.
10. Antara nara sumber yang membantu untuk melakarkan pengalaman pembelajaran kem ini ialah Cikgu Azhar Bin Abdul Rashid. Cikgu Azhar menerangkan bahawa Kem Perkasa Warisan berupaya menjadikan pembelajaran Bahasa Melayu hidup ketika pelajar-pelajar mengaplikasikan bahasa Melayu dalam masyarakat yang lebih luas.
11. Kem ini akan dijalankan sebagai program rintis di GRC Nee Soon dan Tampines pada bulan ini. Kami berharap untuk melanjutkan inisiatif ini kepada lebih banyak sekolah pada masa akan datang.
12. For our younger children at the pre-school level, we want to spark their interest in learning Malay through play. Following the successful partnership between the Committee to Promote Chinese Language Learning and Wildlife Reserves Singapore, I am glad to share that the Wow Wild Learn Programme, which turned the River Safari into a mega living classroom for our pre-schoolers, will be offered in Malay from August this year.
13. Such collaborations are made possible as the Malay Language Learning and Promotion Committee has established a good system to facilitate networking and partnerships among schools, pre-schools, community organisations such as the Malay Youth Literary Association (4PM) and ASAS’50 (The Singapore Writers’ Movement’ 50), National Library (NLB), NParks, National Heritage Board (NHB), and the National Arts Council (NAC).
14. Mr Chen Show Mao asked if we can also extend the learning of Malay Language to other students at the primary level, by including conversational Malay language skills as part of schools’ formal curriculum.
15. The Conversational Malay Programme was introduced since 2005, where non-Malay students learn to conduct simple conversations in the Malay Language and gain appreciation of the Malay culture. Today, 91% of our primary schools offer the Conversational Malay Programme or similar school-based programmes. This equips our students with some grounding of the Malay Language so that they can pick up the language more easily should they need it for economic or other reasons in their adult lives. Making it compulsory for all primary students may not be feasible with a number of competing demands on our students’ attention. The current model where the learning of a 3rd language is encouraged but remains optional is a balanced approach.
Partnership for Holistic Education
16. Lastly, let’s talk about the industry – how can we partner them to complement and supplement our students’ learning in schools?
17. Let me illustrate it using the example of Juying Primary School. The school’s Learning for Life Programme (LLP) is Environmental Education and they partner with an industry partner, Greenpac, which is a big advocate for green practices to teach the students grow and harvest their own vegetables using a hydroponics system. The students benefitted tremendously from this partnership as life cycles of plants, a topic in the Primary 3 Science syllabus, came to life. This is what Applied Learning is all about, where our students learn by doing and experience the real-world application of sustainable farming. As their Values-In-Action project, the students further collaborated with the Residents’ Committee to share their harvest with the community. They also got the canteen vendors to cook the vegetables for the whole school to savour the vegetables of their labour during recess. These are small but important steps in guiding our students to care for others, and contribute to the community within their means.
18. Sir, we are all preparing our students for a future that is fast-changing with many unknowns. It is not an easy journey. However, as the Malay saying goes, “Sedikit-sedikit, lama-lama jadi bukit, sehari selembar benang, lama-lama menjadi kain” [A little effort in time makes a hill, and a thread woven becomes a cloth], I believe we can go a lot further, and do a lot more for our students, when we do it hand in hand with our parents, community and industry. Together, we play a collaborative role in preparing our next generation to be ready for a new world.