SINGAPORE: Good education alone does not guarantee Singapore success, said Education Minister Heng Swee Keat.
Speaking during a ministerial visit to Bishan East on Sunday (May 10), Mr Heng stressed that the country should look forward and outwards in terms of how Singapore responds to societal challenges and international developments – for it to be successful in the future.
It was a special visit to Bishan East for the Education Minister on Sunday, which happens to be Mother’s Day
Mr Heng said: “If we can build on that foundation and continue to look out towards the world and determine our place and relevance in the world, and formulate long-term strategy, we will be able to build strategic capabilities and create strategic responses to the many challenges and opportunities ahead. This is how we can develop a better Singapore for Singaporeans and for Singapore in the next 50 years.”
Mr Heng was speaking to the media after a dialogue with residents. During the session, the minister noted that in the coming months and years, many would study the legacy left by late founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.
And one important lesson to bear in mind is for Singapore – as a “little red dot” – to always “look far and look out”.
Mr Heng noted that the biggest developments in the coming years would be in Asia – particularly in China, India and the ASEAN region.
Technology is another challenge – that is why education, equipping students with skills of the future and lifelong learning are important, said Mr Heng. He also noted the importance of the SkillsFuture initiative.
About 160 people took part in Sunday’s dialogue which lasted for over an hour. Many parents and students posed questions about education in Singapore, ranging from whether the spirit of learning has diminished among students, to the role parents can play in their child’s learning.
“When we think about our children’s education, again we have to think about the long term. At the end of the day, we have to learn about what is it that will be important to the child in the future and what is it that matters most to them,” Mr Heng said.
“And I’ve mentioned about lifelong learning, and at every stage there are important things to learn. One of the more important things we really have to teach our children to learn more of is really to learn about the world around us and to think about how the future can be quite different from where we are today,” he added.
Mr Heng also stressed that every Singaporean can take steps to build a better community.
“What we need is leadership at every level of society so that everyone can play a role to take Singapore forward, and I think that to me is one of the important lessons from Mr Lee Kuan Yew – how we must continue to place a focus on sense of community and for leaders to be stewards of society and stewards of community so that we can continue to take it forward and to look to the future,” he said.
Several new PAP faces were seen during the visit to Bishan East on Sunday. One of them was Mr Chong Kee Hiong, chief executive of OUE Hospitality REIT Management.
MP for Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC Wong Kan Seng noted there are over 300 grassroots leaders in Bishan East and there have been a continuous stream of people stepping forward to help.
Mr Wong said: “We have pioneer leaders like Mr Lee Kuan Yew and his team that took Singapore forward for more than almost three decades and some started very early before PAP got into power and successive generations of leaders need to do that.
“So we need to have people who are passionate about Singapore, who want to serve Singapore, serve citizens, who want to make sure Singapore remains not just a little red dot only, but to be an example to many other nations who find time to come and study our model.
“We can’t pretend to be a perfect nation, but we can say that in the last 50 years we have done quite well, but in order to continue to do that well, we need future leaders.”
Mr Wong said serving in the community gives opportunities to Singaporeans who want to make a difference to people’s lives.
During his visit, Education Minister Heng also launched a new initiative that allows residents to trade their old books or reading material for something new.