As we begin the year 2019, we are happy to share that Yew Tee Primary School (YTPS) will be celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. Arriving at this milestone gives the school the impetus to reflect on its development over the 20 years, appreciate and celebrate the present and map the way forward for the school under the theme ‘Yew Tee I Wish’. We invite you to celebrate YTPS’s 20th anniversary with us!
As we reflect on the school’s development, it is also an opportune time to reflect on Singapore’s education system. Education has been a key driver of Singapore’s development since independence. It has equipped the only resource we have, our people, and helped us to better our lives. In turn, this could be why so many of us try so hard, and pour whatever resources we have into the education of our children, so that they could have a brighter future.
Inadvertently, this has produced high stakes examinations, a multi-million tuition/enrichment industry and stressed out kids who are afraid to fail, and who view results and being better than others as more important than character and learning. It is what our Minister Ong Ye Kung calls Effort Inflation, as we spend more and more time and energy to perfect the same thing instead of focusing on the joy of learning and innovation. However, as Minister pointed out,
“We need to recognise that something fundamental has changed. In the past, once a person had a good education, he would most likely be prepared for his career and the rest of his life. Today, that concept has been disrupted”
Today, we stand at an inflexion point in our education system. If we continue in the same way, it is unlikely that our children will be future ready or successful. While we cannot know the future, we do know that it will be more volatile, complex and uncertain, with greater and more frequent disruptions. This is why MOE has started making a fundamental shift – to find a balance between the rigour of the curriculum and the Joy of Learning (JoL); to broaden the definitions of success and encourage the pursuit of interests and passions; to emphasise values, skills and the courage to try even in the face of potential failure (Entrepreneurial Dare); and to cultivate a sense of rootedness to Singapore (Singapore Spirit) as well as concern for others and the world we live in. Minister also cautioned that
“We are at the crossroads of education. These choices will set the agenda for education in the coming years.”
In the same way, our school stands at a critical juncture of our history. We have done well in the last two decades, but we need to rethink what had served us so well, in order to prepare our students for a future that will be very different from the past. This is why we constantly review what we do, and keep attuned to all these external shifts, so that we can calibrate our approaches and make decisions in the best interests of our students.
It is also why our values underpin all our teaching and learning, regardless of whether it is in the academic or non-academic domain; and we provide our students with diverse experiences in Citizenship, Creativity, Leadership, Action and Service (CCLAS) so that they can nurture their strengths, find their passion and grow as caring and active citizens. Our school vision of developing our students into Reflective Learners, Gracious Citizens will help them to thrive in an era where lifelong learning is as necessary as a sense of belonging.
As we start the year and look forward to our 20th anniversary, may I invite you, students as well as parents, to do the same and reflect on what you have been doing – think about the choices that you can make in response to the changing environment of the future. Regardless of your starting point, and where you find yourself currently, these choices can make all the difference in determining the kind of present and future you wish to see for yourself as a student and your children as a parent.
Ms Ang Mui Khoong