Singapore

Technology will never replace teachers here: Minister

Technology has changed various industries in Singapore, including education, but it will never replace teachers here, Education Minister Ong Ye Kung said yesterday.

"I do not think that education, like some other industries, will be replaced by robots and computers. A teacher cannot be replaced, a principal cannot be replaced," he said. "This is a highly personalised, values-transmission process."

He was speaking as guest of honour yesterday at the Education Disrupt @ The Bay event at Marina Bay Financial Centre, where education industry players met to examine the possibilities that technology could bring to education.

Mr Ong pointed out that Singapore operates differently from countries such as Indonesia, which may have to depend more on robotic teaching due to a lack of resources.

"Indonesia is really using technology to see how they can deliver education replacing the teacher," he said.

"But when you look at Indonesia, you can understand why they have to do that.

"It's not ideal, but when you have 17,000 islands and every village has a school with limited teaching resources, technology helps overcome that problem.

"Singapore being so small and compact, we don't have to resort to technology to overcome that kind of problem that a big country like Indonesia has. So ours will still be a very personalised model."

ASSISTANCE

He acknowledged that teachers can turn to technology for assistance after seeing how computer systems have helped teachers identify students' weaknesses in certain topics.

At a panel discussion, Ms Janine Teo, chief executive of education technology not-for-profit Solve Education, said: "For autistic kids, the routine that they are used to has to be the same... Tech is one of the most consistent teachers, because the content (of a tech learning platform) might be different, but the format and the look are the same."

Education