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“My hopes for my daughter’s future are embedded in what I hope the education system will become. I want an education system that allows not just my child, but all Singaporeans’ children to flourish, regardless of their gifts, be they in maths or science, social sciences, arts, humanities, or sport,” shared Jamus Lim, during IPG Howden’s recent Future-Ready session on the changing face of the global education system, co-hosted by The Peak.

A young father, parliamentarian and an Associate Professor of economics at ESSEC Business School, he added, “If I was the education tzar, I would design a multi-tiered system where those who can (and do) thrive on a narrower but nevertheless important/lucrative skill set are identified, nurtured, and allowed to excel. This would be in addition to a broader-based education where performance across a wide range of subjects is also possible.”

The Peak IPG Howden Education
From left: Lauren Tan, Ng Yi-Xian, Titus Yong, Raymond Yew, Dr Elaine Kim, Jamus Lim, Sharon Solomon and Reuben Mashicharan.

His hopeful reimagining of the future of education was echoed by all six educators who shared personal experiences in harnessing the potential of all learners.

“Students are the driving force behind a transition to a future-ready education system in Singapore. This has spurred teachers and mentors to reassess traditional teaching methods and design more innovative and creative curriculums to equip students with the tools they need to take on the challenges of the 21st century and beyond,” observed co-host Reuben Mashicharan, Head of International Desk at IPG Howden.

Citing his poor performance in the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) that did not inhibit his fervour for knowledge, Ng Yi-Xian, Group CEO of EtonHouse International Holdings, which has more than 20,000 students on a K-12 pathway across 11 countries, called for Singapore’s education system to embrace an inquiry-based pedagogy.

“The comparison I often use is between Singapore’s PSLE exam and the International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary Years Programme’s (PYP) final-year exhibition where students pick a research topic to explore, document, and share their findings with the school community. I have seen many students learn research techniques, time management, and presentation skills from the IB PYP final exhibition. It is impossible for me not to ask myself, which system prepares students the most for life in the real world: the PSLE or the IB PYP final exhibition?”

Creating access to good early education

Dr Elaine Kim, co-founder and CEO of Trehaus School, reiterated the critical importance of early childhood education. Informed by research that found that 85 per cent of a child’s brain is developed by the age of 5, the preschool operates on a 1:5 teacher-student ratio (1:3 in its infant care), and is developing an educational technology (edtech) platform for a scalable audience.

“We didn’t want to provide best-in-class education to just a small subset of families, we want to close the gap in education inequality by creating access to good early education here and in developing countries, third-tier cities and underprivileged communities,” the mother of three boys shared.

“A good educator knows every child is different, and tailors learning to meet the needs, interests and learning levels of each child to best engage them. And that’s part of what we are equipping educators to do through our edtech platform.”

I want an education system that allows not just my child, but all Singaporeans’ children to
flourish, regardless of their gifts

Jamus Lim

By introducing The Winstedt School, the only reception-Y13 school in the region founded and purpose-built for a student population that learns differently, its Founder and Chair Sharon Solomon emphatically stated: “We’ve given access to education, and it works.”

“I don’t believe any neurodiverse child who learns differently should have to agonise over systems that do not cater to his or her abilities only to end up settling for a mediocre existence,” shared the passionate educator, recalling how her own self-esteem was eroded during her school days.

The education system was one of the slowest to change until now, she added. “As an independent privately owned school, The Winstedt School has the flexibility to remain agile and innovative with ample resources to make this happen — and quickly. Is this what it means to be a change agent? Yes, possibly. However, one that is purposeful, positive and focuses on achieving maximum results matched with a high level of accountability. Ultimately, we hope it influences public policy, thereby making a paradigm shift by changing the face of education.”

“Parents need to be educated too”

(Photo: 123RF)

In a sign of the times, even the Harvard Prize Book (Singapore Edition), awarded by alums of the oldest institution of higher learning in the US, has evolved from recognising academic excellence in the past to acknowledging acts of kindness, shared Harvard Club of Singapore vice president Titus Yong. “In line with Harvard’s Making Caring Common initiative, we hope to draw attention to nurturing the heart.”

While most of the discussion centred on youth learners, Yong, an adjunct lecturer at NUS Business School and director of Ingenio Pte Ltd, an education/training company that offers programmes in creativity and positive psychology, also raised a relevant point: “Parents need to be educated.”

“Structured learning or certification is required in almost every profession or skill that impacts others, such as teaching or driving. But parenting? There’s no such requirement anywhere in the world,” he explained. “In my workshops for parents, I ask: ‘How would you rank the importance of academic learning and character development?’ Then I invite them to estimate how their children invest their time in a typical week. Some parents point out how vastly disproportionate the time spent on academic studies, preparing to win competitions in sports or CCA, and playing digital games is to the relatively little time spent on activities that develop important character values.”

A good educator knows every child is different, and tailors learning to meet the needs, interests and learning levels of each child to best engage them

Dr Elaine Kim

Study overseas to gain independence

Encouragingly, today’s generation of students are overwhelmingly independent thinkers, pointed out Raymond Yew, Country Manager of IDP. The world’s largest international student placement company conducts focus groups and surveys with students embarking on undergraduate and graduate programmes abroad to enable their education counsellors to provide effective professional advice.

Despite parents’ preference for institutions with high academic ranking, intensive research, and a rich education history, it is ultimately the students themselves who determine their journey of learning, Yew elaborated. For them, education goes far beyond the classroom. “Many — 63.5 per cent — choose to study overseas to gain independence. Other key experiences they hope to gain from their time overseas include immersing themselves in diverse cultures, and opportunities to broaden their global network.”

IPG Howden’s Mashicharan concluded the discussion by saying, “We are increasingly seeing clients in their late 20s and early 30s who are more open to discussing mortality and planning for uncertainties due to their exposure from studying abroad or attending top universities in Singapore.

“This enables our team of subject-matter specialists at our firm to work closely with them to adopt a holistic and long-term approach when planning their wealth for future generations.”


Preserving Wealth, Protecting Legacies

The pandemic has led many to rethink their priorities in life and raised awareness on the financial risks associated with mortality.

To help mitigate such risks, IPG Howden can provide the necessary liquidity to individuals and families with the use of globally-sourced insurance solutions so your child’s future and access to the best education are secured and uncompromised.

To find out more, visit www.ipghowden.com.

(Related: Life beyond 120: Doctors weigh in on leading healthier, longer lives)