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     FrontPage Edition: Sun 21 January 2007

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MOE to develop 15 FutureSchools@Singapore schools by 2015


FutureSchools@Singapore ¨C paving the way to transform teaching and learning using ICT

Forum Letter Reply:
We wish to thank the writers who have provided their views on the FutureSchools@Singapore project.
The new primary school highlighted in the Straits Times report of 29/12 will be one of 15 such schools to be developed by MOE and IDA by 2015, at the primary and secondary levels.
The schools will seek to go beyond current strategies, and experiment with different ways of using information and communication technologies (ICT) to enhance learning.
The FutureSchools@Singapore schools will however stay focused on our core goals in education, and aim to develop students holistically.
We quite agree with Mr Edmund Lim ("Develop all-important software ¨C the mind", 3/1) , who felt that that an important outcome must be to nurture innovative and insightful thinkers who are able to harness technology fruitfully to serve and prosper our society.
Ms Maria Loh ("School of future: How will pupils be selected?", 2/1) felt that there was a ¡°whiff of exclusivity¡± about the new primary school, and asked how pupils will be selected for the school, who will pay for the extra initiative and whether it will exacerbate the income divide.
The new primary school will follow existing school admission procedures for all primary schools. The secondary schools that are chosen will likewise follow existing procedures, which are based on merit and also allow for many schools to select students according to special talents and aptitudes.
And as suggested in ST¡¯s Editorial (¡°Next, digitised schools?¡±, 6/1), parents will be given advance information on the curriculum and other details of the schools to help them and their children make the right choices.
MOE and IDA, in collaboration with industry, will invest additional resources in the FutureSchools@Singapore.
We would like to assure Ms Loh that children from low income families will not be disadvantaged from enrolling in the FutureSchools@Singapore. MOE has in place financial assistance schemes to help needy students, and will specifically take into account the needs of students in these future schools.
We will keep access to our schools open and meritocratic. But to keep improving our education system, we must be willing to see some schools move ahead of others as they prototype new ideas, programmes or technologies.
Others will decide if they should follow suit, or adopt their own innovations. If we hold all schools to doing the same thing as each other so as to avoid any ¡°whiff of exclusivity¡±, we will lose our ability to innovate, move up in quality and keep our edge.
Ms Jacqueline Chia (¡°Don¡¯t do away with library in schools of the future¡±, 30/12) had asked whether there will be libraries in these schools. We agree with her that we cannot replace the pleasure of reading from a book. The new primary school is looking at a few possible models to ensure that its students have convenient access to books as well as digital resources.
Dr Koh Thiam Seng
Director, Educational Technology

Source: Media Centre 12 Jan 2007

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