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Minister for Education (Schools) Ng Chee Meng mingling with newly appointed principals at the 20th Appointment and Appreciation Ceremony for Principals at Shangri-La Hotel (Source: The Straits Times).

Minister for Education: Schools can set aside time and space for students to explore and pursue their interests

In a Straits Times report dated 28 December, Minister of Education Ng Chee Meng was quoted to have said that schools can set aside time and space for students to explore and to pursue their interests.

He gave an example of students at Tanjong Katong Girls' School who can choose what they want to do, as 80 minutes time of the day were allocated to spend the time of their own decisions, for instance, on rehearsals, projects or peer conversations, with teachers urged not to intervene.

He stated that such exploration can help to spark students' imagination and help them foster an "Innovation Quotient".

Minister Ng was speaking at the 20th Appointment and Appreciation Ceremony for Principals at Shangri-La Hotel.

He said, "Innovation is not about a single Eureka moment, he said, but an ongoing process of intentional exploration. We need to be intentional about it, because innovation requires certain skills and dispositions, hard work and perseverance."

Many netizens commented on this.

Ms Janet Lo said her son was rejected to choose his own toys by the teacher.

She wrote, "Nonsense! My son was outcast by his CCA infocomm teacher for having 3Is and labeled as disrespectful kid! He was intimidated by his teachers! Finally decided to call it a quit to his favorite area of interest because teachers prefer to fit children in the box with what is catered, supposed to be for his age. No argument accepted."

While many others wrote their suggestions.

Christine Loo wrote, "Agreed but let's be honest, how many schools actually doing it?
My child's school asked me to sign an undertaking letter and asked me as a parents to take responsible for a targeting results (which is not achievable as he is dyslexia) for all subjects. Of course I refused to sign. Honestly, only a few schools are doing what he mentioned. It does not apply to all schools system."

Pang Cheng Lip wrote, "Ehh. How about the cores like critical thinking, developing an opinion and able to express oneself unreservedly?"

Pat eng wrote, "Our education is learning The Right Thing. Hard to have the innovative spirit."

Norman Uang Soo Peng wrote, "Every question has a model answer. How to innovate?"

Jiemin Xie wrote, "The Teachers do not have time to customise to each child’s innovation with the current class size."

Eddy Lim wrote, "Will be good if the principal and teachers are allowed to do so too. Lead and show, then teach."

Hor Sher li wrote, "Innovation is a culmination of attitudes and circumstance to create the perfect environment for creativity. It requires quite a lot of resources within an environment that is conducive (may be different for different people), and most importantly time and space (the abstract kind ie no stress) to allow thoughts (inquiry, research, observations) to work. A tall task for now to immediately change the whole education system. How about one small group at a time, led by teachers who really can inspire this?"

Yuenmeng Fanfan wrote, "Innovation is built on kindness fairness confidence and pride and passion. I think if our intolerance and Low threshold continue it is difficult to shape the right culture. The income gap is widening productivity is Low and with no deep skill enterprises in sight and if we could not lift professionalism and have deeper engagement comparable to the west and allow fault finding culture to take root here or strengthen the foothold I am afraid the brain drain will get more severe and relying on foreign talent would increase the risk of foreign power meddling and infiltrating our system it is indeed worrying trend and situation."

Steven Lim wrote, "Innovation spirit came from surrounding n adventure not came from paper general whom earn million. This kind of paper general will run for their life during the war."

Some asked the Government to scrap PSLE and exams.

Jimmy Lim wrote, "Scrap PSLE for a start then it will reduce the stress and anxiety amongst parents and students. Only then we can talk about innovation."

Neo Wee Min wrote, "Every education minister talks about innovation and exploration. Yet none explore doing away with PSLE and grade students for innovation. So all talk only."

Liow Kian Tat wrote, "First of all, is MOE ready to do without any exams until O level?"

Some stated that this would be more burden for the teachers.

Adrian Haan wrote, "Only know how talk from the ivory tower. Yet all the implementation is meant to overwork and unfocused your teachers."

Patricia Rozario wrote, "More work for teachers again, to implement and measure these 3 "i" while still being expected to complete the syllabus and run CCAs"

Some asked why such a person could be an Education Minister as there are still plenty pof people who are capable to do the job much better than him.

Thomas Andrew wrote, "Can anyone tell me. What is a paper general doing as education minister? We don't have qualified principles, professors, deans or teachers???!!"

James Tan wrote, "Singapore Ministers are called the 3Ds - Delusional, Detach and Deceiving."

Mike Liong wrote, 'I still prefer a proper channel....we have so many school principles with years of education experiences. Why can't they be the education ministers? Get an army general? What he knows? Come on this is ridiculous!"

Moe Zaldjian wrote, 'This guy is a great idiot. Talk about innovation. 2nd Minister of Transport to settle the dying taxi industry he made Private Hire Cars to be governed like taxis. Cut and paste."

Alex Tai wrote, "Well said or should I say well drafted by your back end staffs. Ever since the way you manage the PHV issue we can already see what caliber you have so now is the time to make a mess and whack up our education system. In corporate world you might long been fired but be grateful that you are in political world so you are well sheltered."

Robert Tan wrote, "First tell people whether the two students who did not pay school fees have gotten their N Level results. What does he know about education policies when overnight became minister from a paper general."

Kah Kiat Tan wrote, "Talking in interview but without changing the education system nothing will work."

Ong Boon wrote, "Who is he? He seems like he knows nothing about education. Most young ministers in Singapore is useless."

Depth Trident wrote, "It's amazing how an ex-CDF who spent his whole life as a fighter pilot and general know anything about education."

Some wrote that the students should just follow the Government to get good salaries.

Cecil Tan wrote, "Of the 3i only the interconnection make sense. Interconnected with PAP then got chance. Imagination and inquisitiveness? Haha, try asking the Government for accountability, you see what will happen to you. Don't try imagine so much. Just follow PAP can already."

Cheryl P Michelle wrote, "Yup and they will penalize those students that think out of the box. Then if the ideas are good, they’ll “ steal” those ideas & give themselves a pat on their own backs & increase their salaries & bonuses."