In the address in parliament a few months back, Minister for Education Ong Ye Kung outlined Singapore’s next phase of education policies while stressing the need to be wise about “bold changes”
Of particular importance is how Minister Ong has called upon Singaporeans to expand upon our notion of ‘meritocracy’
“If meritocracy is confined to academic excellence; success is defined narrowly as being a university graduate holding a professional or managerial position; then pathways will be limited, possibilities reduced and opportunities curtailed,” he said.
The notion of being recognised and rewarded according to one’s performance and abilities has been a hallmark of our country’s governing principles. This mindset and ethos also permeates on how we recognise and reward success and achievements both in school and in the workplace- “work hard to get your reward; get rewarded according to the work you put in”.
However, too often we miss the true intent of what meritocracy seeks to achieve: to serve as a means to create an equitable playing field where one’s achievement is not limited by birth, social status, religious belief, etc.
In many instances, meritocracy can sometimes be reduced towards a focus on the desired reward one expects to get if he/she puts in the work. It becomes a sense of self-entitlement that fuels a lot of selfish behaviour we see in the academic environment.
We often hear cases of parent’s demanding to know why their son/daughter was not picked to be a star-performer or star-athlete even though the student is ‘clearly the best’ and has been going for extra coaching sessions outside of school.
Minister Ong’s reminder of what true meritocracy means in education comes at an appropriate time. Since the official launch of the Character and Citizenship Education syllabus in 2014, MOE has recognised that at this stage of our education growth, schools need to explicitly impart character competencies into the curriculum. As a system, we have evolved far beyond our early years of nation building where the education system was focused on efficiency and geared towards providing a skilled workforce.
Today, MOE seeks to become a ‘Values Driven, Student Centric’ Education System. The desired outcome is to be clear and explicitly articulate the type of values and character traits that we expect to see in all of the students in Singapore.
Increasingly, in our new economy, we see that companies hiring prospective candidates not so much on their credentials; but rather on their ability to display qualities and competencies that allow them to learn, re-learn and share their knowledge with team-mates and stakeholders.
MOE’s framework for 21st Century Competencies skills has at its centre, the Core Values and Social Emotional competencies for our students to be well-adjusted and empathetic individuals.
As Minister Ong has identified that in order for our students to prosper and flourish in the new economy; it is their character traits that will define their performance as Confident People, Concerned Citizens, Active Contributors to their teams and Self-directed Learners who continue to grow.
Credits to MOE: 21st Century Competencies
This resonates with the team at teachnlearn, because we believe that we do not just tutor subjects; we believe in educating the whole child.
Through the engagement and interaction with our tutors, we help students to be self-directed learners who can determine what they want to learn, how they wish to approach learning and when to schedule it. This makes them confident students because we empower them to decide the pace at which they take ownership of their learning.
As a community of learners and educators, everybody is an active contributor to learning. Students and Tutors are free to make the choices best for learning to take place.
At teachnlearn, we fully believe that meritocracy is not about just working for reward, it is how we empower ourselves and others to take ownership of our choices in learning.
We are willing to make that difference with you!