In his ministry’s addendum to the President’s Address, Mr Ong noted that as an Asian society, Singapore places strong focus on academic excellence.
“But we need to continue with efforts to dial back the over-emphasis on examination results, which can dampen the enthusiasm for learning,” he said.
He pointed to how the Ministry of Education (MOE) will roll out changes to the Primary School Leaving Examination scoring and Secondary 1 posting systems in 2021.
Mr Ong set out the ways that his ministry will improve the educational experience for students, including helping them to develop a deeper understanding of Singapore, the region and the world.
“We will continue to build upon our bilingual language foundation, and make the learning of languages encouraging and fun,” said Mr Ong.
There will be multiple pathways in the education system for students to develop their talents and strengths, he said, adding that they will also get more guidance to help them decide on their specialisations and career options.
The institutes of higher learning will work with private training providers and employers to help workers constantly improve their skills. “All these efforts are anchored on the philosophy of SkillsFuture,” said Mr Ong.
He spoke of how technology will be used in learning, and stressed the need to ensure that the disadvantaged are not left behind.
“Education will continue to be a key pillar of social mobility,” he said, adding that there will be more MOE kindergartens to make pre-school education affordable and accessible to more families.
“Our schools will continue to provide equal opportunities for all students, regardless of background, to access quality education,” he said.
From next year, 20 per cent of places at every affiliated secondary school will be reserved for those who do not have affiliation priority.
Education for children with special education needs will also be made compulsory from next year.
“We will continue to closely partner parents, employers and communities to mould the future of Singapore,” said Mr Ong.