Our education system
We think that our education system should look for the spark in individuals and nurture their unique talents. We should focus less on defining success in terms of grades, and more on personal development. We feel that we have used a one-size-fits-all approach for too long, where the academically inclined are rewarded. Instead, we should encourage students to do work rotations through a wide range of jobs, to enable them to find a career path they will excel in and enjoy. Some of us suggest introducing new areas into our curriculum such as computer programming, digital marketing, artificial intelligence, environmental sustainability, and responsible information sharing. This way, we can stay competitive and relevant, and prepare students for the future. A few also highlight the need to nurture home-grown talent.
We think that there are important life skills, such as resilience and creative problem solving, that need to be imparted from a young age. Our fear of failure seems to prevent us from becoming successful entrepreneurs and innovators. We want the next generation to learn how to push for positive changes in society and make their voices heard. Many of us feel strongly about the importance of inculcating people-centric capabilities in students, such as collaboration, volunteerism, and cross-cultural awareness, so as to build a kind and compassionate society. Our educators need to be equipped to facilitate sensitive discussions among students on contemporary social issues, while students need to learn to think critically and engage others respectfully. Parents should inculcate the importance of self-reliance from young, such as by involving children in household chores. We are concerned that our youth may become less independent and resilient if they do not learn to carry out basic tasks or shun important jobs that require manual labour. Students should also be taught good habits such as cleaning, time management, and leading a healthy lifestyle.
We hope our education system will provide equal opportunities to all students. Relying on meritocracy alone is insufficient, as there are many factors besides personal effort that contribute to one’s future. We should seek to level the playing field between different schools by allocating resources evenly.
Support for teachers and students
We also want to offer more support to both teachers and students. Adjusting to home-based learning was challenging and most of us felt that face-to-face learning was still preferred over virtual means. Some of us also felt that more measures could be put in place to ensure that students used digital devices appropriately and safely. Teachers served as frontliners through the COVID-19 period, and we should show them more support and appreciation. Many of us also recognise that students often feel stressed and burnt out. We see a need to continue placing greater emphasis on students’ mental health and well-being, both via the formal school curriculum and working with parents. Some of us suggest that schools bring in counsellors and social workers to support teachers so that they can focus on their core work.
Lifelong education and training
We agree that lifelong learning is important, and recognise that we should be prepared to upskill and reskill throughout our working life. The COVID-19 experience has shown that we are able to pick up new skills and take on different jobs. A few of us suggest that companies provide fresh graduates and youths with traineeships to give them the opportunity to learn despite the economic downturn caused by COVID-19.
We appreciate the government’s investment in continuous training through SkillsFuture and other programmes. At the same time, some of us see gaps in SkillsFuture. The effectiveness and quality of the courses offered should be regularly reviewed, to ensure that they truly prepare us for the economy’s future needs and offer credible qualifications. Also, the top-up amounts and eligible age range could be tweaked, to ensure that those who really need the funding and training for prospective jobs can benefit. Some of us suggest that the government help to identify skills that are in greater demand, so that people know which areas to obtain training in.
As a society, we should also be open to constantly learning from one another. The ESCs have been useful in bringing people from different generations and social circles together, to hear and learn from each other. We feel that teaching and imparting values remains important, even among adults.