1. We’re moving toward computers
Remember in the 90s when the emphasis from parents was to play fewer computer games? Back in those days, computers and the internet took the bad rep. They were blamed for poor examination results and much associated with naughty students who didn’t want to study.
Fast forward 2 decades and the scene is vastly changing. Today, smartphones are everywhere. Laptops a dime a dozen. And the highest paying jobs no longer held by doctors and lawyers, but software engineers and managers.
Our Ministry of Education (MOE) wants in too. Just recently, they have aggressively started initiating policies and changes to incorporate this shift and emphasis towards computers and the internet of things. The GCE O levels now offer Programming as a subject at 19 secondary schools, kids are learning Python as a language, and teachers are incorporating more e-learning resources into their lessons.
And that is not surprising. Singapore’s startup scene has been harping for years about the lack of software and IT talent coming from our local student body. Hiring ICT talent has become such a nark that local companies are constantly looking overseas to acquire the right people. The government’s push toward computing, if for nothing else, is a great step in the right direction.
2. Real emphasis on noncognitive skills
Yes, parents have been abusing the GEP and DSA systems for years. But recent revisions by the MOE shows the government’s resolve at going back to its intended roots; to recognise skills and talents and aptitudes beyond traditional academic domains. Even the momentous win by national swimmer Joseph Schooling at the 2016 Olympics threw much-needed light back on the issue.
To be true, it’s not about having skills apart from academics. It’s really about acknowledging the vast difference among our student body and giving each type of individual the right platform and moment to excel with that.
3. We are going global
Just 10 years ago, the average Singaporean parents’ dream was to sent their son or daughter to a prestigious local university. Getting into NUS, NTU or SMU would have been a moment of pride for their parents and the family.
But this is changing today.
The rise of global travel and interconnectivity has brought about much exposure for Gen z and the opportunities that present them today. Getting into a local university, while meritorious, is hardly the primary goal anymore. Global exposure, international undertakings and cross cultural dexterity are what most students, and not surprisingly employers, look for today. And with this change in academic expectations and directions, more and more students are now interested in understanding foreign issues and have started applying or undergoing studies in the master in international affairs.
Thankfully, this acknowledgement and recognition of such changes are already trickling down to our students. More and more students are choosing to pursue international degrees and college education after their pre-college stints. Some turn to their folks for student loans, others to banks, and still others to scholarships to realise such realities.
And that is a great thing. We no longer dwell in a place where possessing a myopic sandbox mindset still works. The world is changing so fast that the more exposure you get, at as early an age you can possibly do so, becomes a real competitive advantage vis a vis your peers. It’s not about which school you get into, but what exposure you get. And that won’t go away anytime soon.
We’re in a new world. And even education, the oldest institution with one of the greatest inertia, is starting to recognise that. Let’s move along with them. Because staying put is just another way of getting left behind.