I have just attended an interesting presentation and a question/answer session with Mr Ong Ye Kung, Singapore’s Minister for Education.
The event was organized by the Singapore Manufacturing Federation (SMF), a well-established organization connecting a variety of different businesses. The subject of education is valuable for businesses as they plan for future job market scenarios. The event also gave an opportunity for companies to provide feedback on the type of talents they feel they may require in their respective industries. In essence, the minister recognized the changing landscape of education.
While he did this in the context of Singapore, it was pleasing to hear that most of the fundamentals of our programmes at GEMS World Academy (Singapore) were mentioned: the need for life-long learning to upskill and re-skill as required; the changing focus from hard technical skills to soft (transferable) skills and experiential learning; the need for student’s intrinsic motivation, not being driven by external examination scores; and an increased tolerance of failure (the notion of ‘failing well’ and learning from one’s mistakes).
I particularly liked this quote:
When you withdrew the security blanket of exams, teaching becomes harder but more meaningful … as you stop teaching to an exam but to a person.
Mr Ong also questioned what ‘qualification’ means, and has defined receiving a degree as ‘the commencement’ of learning, rather than the end of it. He raised the notion of ‘micro-credentials’ – less time consuming but more frequent learning opportunities resulting in, for example, micro-master’s degree or mini PhD thus validating and formalizing the need to be a life-long learner.
I believe it will be fascinating to witness the potential educational reform in Singapore (and beyond), and I was extremely pleased to see that GEMS Singapore is already ahead of the game of changing the educational landscape.
On a different note, I would also like to provide some important updates in regards to the GEMS Secondary Years:
The work on the Design centre is progressing according to plan and we are looking forward to opening this new space with a range of tools, machinery and flexible learning spaces in Semester 2.
Moving all of our Design lessons to the new centre will also give us the opportunity to re-establish the Innovation centre as the technology centre of the school.
We will be launching a school House system in Quarter 2. The purpose of this system is to strengthen and consolidate our ethos as a whole school, through building team relationships and facilitating opportunities for students to lead and represent their houses in competitive and fun activities. The launch will take place at an assembly on 25 October.
Due to our continued growth, I am very pleased to announce that we will welcome two new part-time teachers from Quarter 2. Having additional teachers will mean improving our already low teacher-student ratio, thus providing even more time for teachers to ensure individual attention to each student. Our priority is Mathematics, English, Drama and EAL.
We have found two highly experienced and qualified teachers:
Dr Angela Gravina will teach Language and literature, Drama, and will also provide additional English as an Additional Language (EAL) support. Dr Gravina brings over 30 years of teaching experience, in-depth knowledge of the MYP, (having been an MYP Coordinator in the past) and great knowledge from an international schools context in Singapore, (having previously worked at the Australian International School and St. Joseph’s Institution).
Ms Fathiyah Mescon will teach MYP Mathematics. Ms Mescon spent the last 6 years teaching MYP and DP Mathematics at Chatsworth International School. She is also an active DP Mathematical studies examiner and is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in education. Ms Mescon is a certified Google Educator, and MYP e-assessment developer.
Ms Le’Rain Lee will step in as a maternity leave cover teacher for Ms Tracy Tan until the end of Quarter 3. Ms Lee is a qualified Music teacher and is familiar with both MYP and DP programmes. She also knows GEMS and some of our students having been our piano instrumental teacher since the 2017/2018 school year.
On behalf of the GEMS (Singapore) community, I would also like to wish Ms Tracy Tan all the very best on her maternity leave as she welcomes a new addition to her family.
Finally, I would like to wish everyone a very relaxing mid-term break. Looking forward to seeing everyone on October 23 (day 2 of our timetable).
Jan Stipek | Secondary Years Principal