Madam Chairperson, schools, parents and the community are key partners in the collective effort to forge a future where our people are valued for who they are, beyond the credentials they possess.

Role of Holistic Education in Bringing Out The Best In Every Child

To develop our children holistically and equip them with a strong foundation of values, MOE has strengthened art, music, sports, and outdoor activities as well as internationalisation efforts in schools. In the area of sports and CCAs, we agree with Dr Benedict Tan and Mr Yee Jenn Jong that all students would benefit from participating in sports and CCAs at competitive and non-competitive levels as part of their holistic development.

I am pleased to inform Members that with the revised PE programme, all our students learn fundamental movement skills and concepts, and are given broad exposure to at least 6 sports, as well as dance, gymnastics, athletics, swimming and outdoor education. Dr Benedict Tan had suggested that all students should play a sport during Sports Day. Sports Day is one of the many opportunities for student participation. Besides Sports Day, schools provide a wide range of sporting experiences for all students throughout the year, such as inter-class and inter-house games, cross-country meets, Sports Carnival, and the Sports Education Programme.

The CCA programme complements these experiences and more than 60 Sports CCAs are offered in our schools. About one-third of all our students participate in Sports CCAs, of which 60% are non-school team players. The range of CCAs offered within each school would depend on student interests, and availability of facilities, financial and manpower resources. Each type of sporting experience serves a different purpose and allows for excellence and mass participation to co-exist.

Dr Tan may be pleased to know that through outdoor education in the curriculum, all primary and secondary school students learn simple navigation and outdoor living skills such as cooking and shelter-building. All students would have attended at least 1 outdoor adventure camp by the end of Primary 6, and at least 2 camps by the end of Secondary 4; one of which is an outdoor adventure camp.

Through sports, CCAs and outdoor education, our students learn to work in teams, develop resilience and ruggedness, and discover aspects of themselves that they might not discover in the classroom.

Such out-of-classroom experiences also occur through cross-cultural experiences provided by schools through multiple platforms such as exchange programmes, overseas learning journeys, and partnering of foreign communities based in Singapore. These internationalisation efforts better prepare our students for the globalised environment as they develop the 21st Century Competencies (21CC) of global awareness and cross-cultural skills.

We agree with Dr Benedict Tan that sports is an effective platform that can be used to foster interaction between our youth and those of other nationalities. This is already being done through sports events such as the Annual ASEAN Schools Games, National School Games, and school-based collaborations between local and international schools. For example, Jurong Secondary and North Vista Secondary meet the Singapore American School annually for friendly games in basketball; and Queensway Secondary has organised friendly games in football and basketball with the Australian International School for the past 2 years.

However, holistic development is not the sole responsibility of schools. Parents and the community must play their part to offer these opportunities. Community clubs, Sport Singapore, National Sports Associations, and People’s Association offer many such programmes and activities, and students and parents should participate in these to further develop their interests and strengths in various domains.

Role of Parents in SkillsFuture

Let me now talk about SkillsFuture. Minister and SMS Indranee have spoken about SkillsFuture and the importance of helping children discover their unique strengths and interests, and enabling them to pursue different pathways to their fullest potential.

All schools do this through their Education and Career Guidance, or ECG, efforts. Let me respond to Mr Ang Wei Neng’s query on the role parents can play in career counselling. It is important that parents recognise that the competencies and skills that were needed for jobs of today may not be the same ones that their children will need for the jobs of tomorrow.

Parents can partner schools in their ECG efforts. Using resources such as the MOE e-careers portal and Parents-in-Education website, parents can support our young in exploring various educational pathways and making informed choices based on their interests, strengths and work values.

In Presbyterian High School in Ang Mo Kio students go through a Celebrate Life! Seminar that helps them identify various pathways based on their interests, strengths and aspirations. The school includes parents by introducing the e-careers portal to them and encouraging the use of its tools to guide their child in setting and achieving their goals in life. Parents are also made more aware of various pathways through Learning Journeys to post-secondary education institutes (PSEIs) and Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs).

At Greenview Secondary School in Pasir Ris, parents are involved in the programme named, Work Attachment with Parents. For 3 days during the June holidays, parents of Secondary 2 and 3 students volunteer to take their children to work to expose them to the work they do in various jobs such as those in the wet market, prisons, aviation, and pediatric oncology. The students reflected that they had greater appreciation of their parents after witnessing how hard they worked and the kind of realities they faced in the workplace. Such authentic experiences are invaluable and prepare students well for the expectations of the workplace.

By engaging in ECG efforts, parents may discover that their children want to pursue pathways that may be more unconventional. After the GCE O-level examinations, Ariel De Silva qualified for the polytechnic but found that none of the courses she qualified for were of interest to her. Her mother, Mrs Sarie De Silva, recognised her strengths in creativity, language and storytelling, and encouraged her to pursue the early childhood education course at ITE. As a result of pursuing her interests, Ariel did well in ITE and went on to Temasek Polytechnic. She is now a qualified pre-school teacher.

As parents, we must have faith that when our children pursue what they are strong in and passionate about, they will find success and fulfilment.

Networks of Support for ECG Efforts

Parents can also come together through the Parent Support Group or PSG network to support schools’ ECG efforts by giving students exposure to occupations beyond what their own parents are engaged in.

In Eunos Primary School, upper primary students use the e-careers portal to learn about different occupations during ECG lessons. These come to life through the work-shadowing programme where PSG members host Primary 6 students at their workplaces to give them real-world experiences. This initiative has benefitted 120 students since its implementation in 2012, and more parents from the PSG are coming forward to support this programme.

Pei Hwa Secondary School in Sengkang engages the PSG, alumni, school advisory committee (SAC) and industry partners in a structured ECG programme for all students. The PSG, Alumni and SAC host in-conversation sessions with students to share about their education and career choices, and the lessons learnt through their personal challenges. Secondary 3 students can opt to participate in work attachment opportunities at Resorts World Sentosa, Wildlife Reserves Singapore and selected hotels and retail outlets. These efforts culminate in an ECG Day for Secondary 4 and 5 students where industry partners, former students or lecturers from IHLs are invited as keynote speakers and course advisors.

Thus, industry partners are very important, and perhaps no one speaks as credibly on workplace requirements and expectations than our industry leaders. We will embark on a series, “What Bosses Want” where industry captains share about the skills, attitudes and attributes valued by employers. This series aims to raise parents’ awareness and appreciation of the variety of career options available, and the importance of nurturing children’s strengths and interests, and imbibing in them values such as initiative, resilience, motivation, and adaptability.

By working collectively to enhance our ECG efforts, we are better placed to help widen our children’s opportunities for success.

MOE is Committed To Developing Closer Partnerships With Parents And The Community

Beyond involvement in ECG efforts, the PSG network helps parents support schools and each other in nurturing their children holistically. I am happy to note that almost all schools have a PSG made up of enthusiastic and supportive parents. MOE has been encouraging the development of PSGs and sees value in establishing supportive networks amongst them.

We plan to organise a series of 4 networking sessions for PSG leaders this year. These sessions will bring together the PSG leaders and school staff to synergise efforts for enhancing school-home partnerships. About 730 participants will be attending these 4 sessions.

I attended the first session on 28 February and was heartened to see such an engaged group of PSG leaders and staff from the East Zone, discussing the various ways parents and schools can collaborate and support each other in their clusters.

I met a number of PSG leaders who have been active in their children’s schools for many years; some of whom continue to contribute even after their children had graduated. One such parent is Mr George Punnoose, current PSG Chairman at Canossa Convent Primary. He has been with the PSG for 9 years and says that he continues to be active even though his daughter has graduated because of his love for the children and the desire to bring cheer to their school life through the PSG activities.

I also met active PSG leaders who had come from other countries and had placed their children in our schools because they appreciate our education system. Their involvement in schools and PSGs enhances the cultural diversity and global awareness of the children in the school.

Generally, PSGs comprise more mothers and I was especially encouraged therefore to see so many fathers at this session. Mr Gordon Tan, PSG Chairman in St Hilda’s Secondary School joined the PSG in 2012 because he wanted to be the ‘Best Father’ for his son, especially during the formative teenage years. Through parent-child bonding activities, he got to know his son better and together, they have created many treasured memories.

Another father, Mr Muchtar Bin Abdul Karim, Chairman of PSG in Junyuan Primary School was in the school’s first graduating cohort. He enrolled his daughter in 2014 and joined the school’s PSG as a way to give back to his alma mater. He believes that his presence in school helps his daughter grow in confidence, and hopes that it inspires her to follow in his footsteps by giving back to the community.

The fathers I met shared that their involvement in PSG allowed them to play a greater role in shaping the way their children developed. They felt that it was important for PSGs to reach out to more fathers and want to do their part to promote this.

Such engaged and supportive parents are positive role models for other parents. To further encourage mentoring relationships, I am pleased to inform that the 9th Council of COMPASS will launch a COMPASS-PSG Mentoring Programme or Scheme. Depending on the needs of the school, the Scheme will match PSGs that would like support in developing further, with PSG Mentors from COMPASS. Our PSG representatives on COMPASS are all experienced members of PSGs in schools and are well-placed to provide support to other PSGs.

When COMPASS member, Mr Tio Chong Heng shared at the inaugural PSG Conference in 2014 about the fathers’ group in St Hilda’s Primary, PSG representatives from several schools namely Rulang Primary, Bukit Timah Primary, Bedok Green Primary and Guangyang Primary were inspired to explore how fathers could be involved in their schools. A visit to St Hilda’s Primary to observe how the fathers’ group conducted itself, paved the way for a rock-climbing father-child bonding activity last year for Bedok Green Primary.

Through this Scheme, we hope to encourage PSGs to strengthen their partnership with schools to benefit their children and prepare them for the world of tomorrow.

Conclusion

Madam, when we come together as a community to provide opportunities for our children and extend our definitions of success, we will teach our children that they are each valued for their unique strengths, talents and interests. We will better enable our children to succeed in society in the future.

Madam, let me conclude my speech in Malay:

Conclusion (in Malay Language)

Dunia yang bakal didiami dan tempat bekerja anak-anak kita apabila mereka dewasa kelak akan jauh berbeza daripada dunia yang kita kenal sekarang. Maka itu, pembelajaran sepanjang hayat amat penting. Kita perlu membantu anak-anak kita memperoleh pengetahuan, kemahiran dan kecekapan yang akan memperkasa diri mereka untuk menghadapi ketidaktentuan dan kerumitan pada masa depan. Kemahiran-kemahiran tersebut termasuklah kemahiran berkomunikasi, kemahiran maklumat dan kerja berkumpulan. Lebih penting lagi, kita perlu membantu mereka membentuk diri menjadi insan yang berwatak baik, berupaya membuat keputusan yang arif dan mampu menghadapi cabaran dengan bingkas dan berupaya menyesuaikan diri. Ciri-ciri inilah yang diperlukan oleh majikan dalam diri para pekerja pada masa depan. Mereka mahukan pekerja yang menunjukkan inisiatif, bermotivasi dan bersemangat tinggi dalam melaksanakan tugas mereka.

Oleh itu, amat genting bagi ibu bapa dan sekolah bekerjasama untuk membantu anak-anak membina ciri-ciri ini dan sedar akan perkara-perkara yang mereka minati dan yang mendorong mereka. Hal ini boleh dilakukan dengan melibatkan diri dalam Bimbingan Pendidikan dan Kerjaya (atau ECG) anak-anak. Walaupun MOE akan menyediakan sekolah-sekolah menengah, maktab-maktab rendah, institusi pusat, politeknik-politeknik dan Institut Pendidikan Teknikal dengan kaunselor-kaunselor ECG, ibu bapa harus menjalankan tanggungjawab demi mengenali anak-anak mereka. Hal ini dapat dilakukan dengan mengkhususkan waktu untuk bersama mereka demi membantu anak-anak mengenal pasti pelbagai peluang dan kemungkinan untuk diri mereka.

Saya menggalakkan semua ibu bapa menyokong usaha semua sekolah dalam Bimbingan Pendidikan dan Kerjaya dengan menggunakan bahan-bahan seperti portal ECG dan laman sesawang Ibu Bapa dalam Pendidikan (atau Parents-in-Education Website) untuk mengetahui dengan lebih lanjut mengenai laluan kerjaya yang berbeza-beza pada masa depan. Bahan-bahan ini menyediakan ibu bapa dengan panduan bagaimana mereka boleh membimbing dan memandu anak-anak mereka membuat keputusan yang matang mengenai masa depan mereka. Terdapat juga maklumat mengenai pelbagai laluan pendidikan dan soalan-soalan panduan dan alat-alat untuk menyediakan profil diri yang membantu pelajar membuat pilihan setelah membuat kajian berdasarkan minat, kekuatan dan nilai mereka.

Apabila anak-anak kita tahu perkara-perkara yang mendorong mereka serta kekuatan dan minat mereka, ibu bapa dan sekolah boleh bekerjasama untuk memberikan peluang kepada anak-anak mereka untuk menggunakan kekuatan dan meneruskan minat mereka. Ada kalanya, hal ini memerlukan ibu bapa dan anak-anak keluar daripada zon selesa mereka untuk menggalakkan anak-anak mereka mencuba sesuatu yang baharu. Hanya dengan pengalaman beginilah anak-anak akan sedar aspek-aspek baharu mengenai diri mereka.

Ibu bapa Adly Azizi Adly Azamin merupakan contoh yang menunjukkan bahawa dengan memberikan peluang untuk melakukan sesuatu yang baharu boleh menjadi panduan positif untuk masa depan. Apabila Adly Azizi mula memasuki tarian sebagai kegiatan kokurikulum (CCA) di Sekolah Montfort Junior, dia tidak mempunyai latihan formal dalam seni tari. Walau bagaimanapun, melalui CCA, dia sedar akan bakat dan membentuk minat yang mendalam mengenai seni tari. Meskipun dia mempunyai pengalaman yang terbatas dalam seni tari, Adly menyertai sesi uji bakat untuk menyertai Sekolah Seni atau SOTA dengan sokongan ibu bapanya. Kini, Adly merupakan pelajar berusia lima belas tahun yang mempunyai semangat yang membara untuk meneruskan perjalanan seni tarinya di Fakulti Tarian SOTA.

Oleh itu, ibu bapa dan sekolah perlu bekerjasama untuk membantu anak-anak kita belajar tentang pelbagai laluan yang tersedia kepada mereka dan memberikan mereka ruang untuk menggunakan kekuatan dan meneruskan minat anak-anak mereka ke peringkat yang tertinggi yang mungkin. Kita harus menggalakkan mereka mengenal pasti pilihan yang akan membuat mereka berasa gembira dan berpuas hati. Kita juga harus menghormati apa sahaja laluan pilihan mereka. Dengan ini, peluang untuk anak-anak berjaya akan menjadi lebih luas. Terima kasih.