Q18: PM Lee: My aspirations for the future of education in Singapore (SUSS Ministerial Forum 2019)


The shifts in PSLE scoring and the multiple pathways in higher education, what do I hope for? I hope we will produce students who are rigorously educated, who are good at what they are doing, and who are passionate and want to keep on learning. And at the same time, are good Singaporean citizens. There is no final best education system. Every education system has got pluses and minuses, and you keep on tweaking, adjusting, improving, then you watch what happens and you have to make further adjustments. And so eventually, hopefully we make progress. But in Singapore, I think by and large, we have got our education system working. People say it is high stress and you have to work hard and that is true, and we have to try and rebalance that and reduce the stress levels some, but we do not want to throw the baby out with the bathwater. We want to make sure that we maintain the high standards and the good results we have. In Singapore when you graduate, your degree is worth something, your diploma is worth something, you can find a job. We do not have a youth unemployment problem. But in many other countries, they have a very serious youth unemployment problem and in particular, they have a graduate unemployment problem, because they have produced huge number of graduates, and the universities have decided that is that their job is to pass people. Their job is not to maintain standards, it is to pass people and if they try to uphold standards and they say the student is not up to scratch, and they may get scolded, they may lose funding and then the department may have to close down, so better pass everybody and I keep on pretending to teach them. Even in some European countries with very high reputations in the past, this has become a trend and a problem. It has not been so in Singapore, and we have expanded our education, pathways and access. Now we have maybe 40 per cent going to university, we must make sure that when you go to university, you learn something valuable, it is worth your money, time, and the effort which you put in. You come out, you learn something valuable to you and you are able to make use of it for Singapore.

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