After my previous post on the myopic focus of the public education system in Singapore, I was pretty surprised to see this in the news today (full story here):

A student-centric education system in the pipeline

SINGAPORE: The next phase for Singapore’s education system will be one that is student-centric and focused on values.

Speaking at the Ministry of Education’s work plan seminar on Thursday morning, Education Minister Heng Swee Keat said while the overall foundation of the system is strong, the ministry wants to sharpen its efforts in holistic education to better prepare Singaporeans for the 21st century.

This follows feedback Mr Heng and his team gathered over the past three months. He said educators and parents have asked for greater emphasis to be placed on character and values.

Others welcome new options and flexibilities in the education system but also asked for more help and support for their children to find the best pathways for themselves.

There were also some who were concerned about excessive competition and stress in schools.

Mr Heng said: “We need personal values to enable each of us to have the confidence, self awareness, grit and determination to succeed. We need moral values, such as respect, responsibility, care and appreciation towards others to guide each of us to be a socially responsible person.

“We need values of citizenship. As a young nation with a short history of independence, we must have informed, rugged and resilient citizens who can stay united to overcome crisis and adversities which we must expect to happen from time to time.”

He said the ministry will do this in three broad areas.

One way is to introduce a new Character and Citizenship Education (CCE) module by 2013 which will focus on values and character development.

The new CCE curriculum will bring together Civics and Moral Education, National Education, Co-Curricular Activities (CCA) among others.

The CCE is expected to be infused into lessons, such as Mother Tongue and literature. MOE will set up to 60 per cent of the CCE programme, with schools designing the rest.

Minister Heng must be reading the  New York Times too! But as with all with government proposals, the devil’s in the details. We shall wait and see if they can deliver on this.