All primary schools to set up Applied Learning Programme by 2023
In Primary 4, Lai Zer Jynn was given a task - create something that would improve the lives of elderly or disabled people.
She eventually came up with spring-operated chopsticks after repeatedly witnessing the elderly having trouble eating.
Now 12, Zer Jynn said: "I eat at hawker centres often, and I would always see the elderly struggling to use chopsticks, which is why I decided to modify them so that they would be easier to use."
Her modifications resulted in the designing of spring-operated chopsticks, which require very little dexterity to use.
That was one of the various projects that Teck Whye Primary pupils have undertaken as part of the school's applied learning programme (ALP).
Applied learning aims to help students learn by applying concepts to real world issues.
Minister for Education (Schools) Ng Chee Meng announced yesterday that he has directed all primary schools to set up an ALP by 2023.
By next year, more than 50 schools will offer MOE Applied Subjects at O level and 30 schools will offer MOE-ITE Applied Subjects at Normal (Technical) level.
Since 2014, schools have been developing their own ALPs, and all secondary schools now have ALPs that encompass Stem (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) initiatives, languages, humanities, business, entrepreneurship, aesthetics and inter-disciplinary fields.
Since last year, more than 80 primary schools have an ALP.
Mr Ng said: "All the ALPs, importantly, encourage exploration, ideation and creativity. There are no tests or exams... Students learn through experimentation - they try, fail, try, learn from it and try again.
"This is an investment worth making to nurture innovation and creativity. And importantly, prepare our children for the future."
MOE is also updating its approach to National Education (NE).
Senior Minister of State for Education Janil Puthucheary said part of the new NE approach will focus on discussions of contemporary issues.
All schools might soon be setting aside time regularly to discuss current affairs.
He said: "We must empower our students to discover what being Singaporean means to them personally - not because the syllabus or textbook says so, but because they themselves know so through a process of discovery."
His remarks were made in response to Mr Ang Wei Neng (Jurong GRC) saying that people felt NE was propaganda.
Dr Janil added that although students may not agree with each other or even their teachers, MOE wants to ensure there is space for respectful conversations with open-mindedness.
Schools will also be encouraged to "facilitate citizenship experiences" for students, such as holding special ceremonies for the 15-year-old citizens when they receive their identity cards. - SUE-ANN TAN & AQIL HAMZAH
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