During an hour-long ministerial forum with students of the Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) on 4 September, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong answered several questions from the audience.
Videos of the premier’s answers were uploaded into a playlist on the Prime Minister’s Office Youtube Channel.
When asked about his aspirations for the future of education in Singapore, PM Lee said that recent shift in PSLE scoring and introducing multiple pathways to higher education are moves which he hopes will result in quality students.
students who are rigorously education, who are good at what they are doing, and who are passionate and want to keep on learning, and at the same time are good Singaporean citizens.
“I hope we will produce students who are rigorously education, who are good at what they are doing, and who are passionate and want to keep on learning, and at the same time are good Singaporean citizens.”
Though the PM admits there is no “best education system”, Singapore’s mostly got it working well.
“I mean every education system has got its plusses and minuses, and you keep on tweaking, adjusting, improving. Then you watch what happens then you have to make further adjustments. And so hopefully we make progress. But in Singapore, I think by and large we’ve got our education system working,” he said.
He emphasised, “In Singapore when you graduate, your degree is worth something, your diploma is worth something. You can find a job.”
He pointed out that there is no youth unemployment problem in Singapore, unlike many countries which produce higher numbers of graduates but universities end up not maintaining their standards.
He explained, “Their job is not to maintain standards, it’s to pass people. And if they try to uphold standards and they say their students are not up to scratch, they may get scolded, they may lose funding, and then the department will have to close down. So better pass everybody and I keep on pretending to teach them.”
This is even a problem in some European countries, said PM Lee, but not in Singapore where he estimates that about 40% of the population are going to university.
What’s crucial is ensuring that students learn something valuable at universities, that it is worth their money, time and effort, said the PM, adding that students should learn things that they can later use for the benefit of Singapore.