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Minister Heng wants you to play games, a roaming robotic lab for students and 6 outstanding Malay teachers recognised

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 Games an important way to learn: Heng (Straits Times, 10 Nov 2014)

Games and play are very important ways to stimulate learning, said Education Minister Heng Swee Keat.

Mr Heng was speaking yesterday at the first National Primary School Go Championship organised by The Go Academy.

“We should encourage our children to explore learning in different forms, whether it is a strategy game or whether it is through outdoor activities,” he said.

“We want to encourage them to develop a wide range of interests, and in that way we can stimulate learning through different means.”

This will also give them a chance to meet and interact with different people and develop holistically, he added.

Mr Heng’s comments come just as The Straits Times reported that the latest Household Expenditure Survey in September found that families spent $1.1 billion a year on tuition – almost double the $650 million spent a decade ago.

The average household spending on tuition rose from $54.70 a month 10 years ago to $79.90 in the latest survey. Along with spending more, there were also more households in the latest study – 1.2 million compared with 993,000 a decade ago.

Academy founder Daniel Chan, 27, said the ancient Chinese strategy game, Go, which is also known as weiqi, is an educational tool which can help children with academic studies and brain development.

“A lot of parents think weiqi is just a game, a hobby. But in countries such as China, South Korea and Japan, weiqi is also an educational tool,” he said.

More than 400 pupils from 103 schools took part in the competition yesterday, which was held at the official launch of The Go Academy at the Ulu Pandan Community Club.

Also held concurrently was the first Tri-Nations Junior Go Challenge, with three participants each from Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia.

Lucas Rahardja, 12, a Nanyang Primary pupil who has been playing the game since he was six, said: “I hope more people will be interested in Go because it is a really fun and enriching game.”


Six outstanding Malay school teachers recognised for their work (Straits Times, 9 Nov 2014)

Teaching the Malay language is a challenge today, when more than half of Madam Azizah Shaik Kadir’s pupils speak English at home. But the teacher of 24 years at Chongzheng Primary uses a variety of ways from tech tools to drama to make the language come alive.

“Instead of just sitting in the classroom, students learn through things like going on learning journeys conducted in Malay language, or reading fiestas where they read Malay language books with their parents,” said the 48-year-old. They also write drama scripts in the language, and come dressed as characters to act out scenes, she added.

For her efforts, Madam Azizah on Saturday won the Arif Budiman Malay Language Teachers’ Award given to outstanding Malay Language teachers. It was also given to Madam Zaleha Ahmad (Park View Primary), Madam Nuraina Mohamed Sin (Fuhua Primary), Ms Nurbaya Ismail (Townsville Primary), Madam Yahida Yahya (Yusof Ishak Secondary) and Mr Ridzuan Abrahim (Pasir Ris Crest Secondary). The award is jointly organised by the Malay Language Council Singapore, the Malay Language Teachers’ Association, Malay daily Berita Harian and the Malay Language Learning and Promotion Committee.

At the ceremony at Concorde Hotel, Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin said teachers exemplify a trait that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had encouraged Singaporeans to have in a speech in October. That is, he added, to “never be hard-hearted” but “never shy away from being hard-headed”. “You make difficult and sometimes unpopular decisions from the student’s point of view,” he said. “But you do it with a softness of the heart towards your students, assuring them that you care, and pushing them to expect greater things from themselves.”


Number of students admitted to post-secondary institutions has improved steadily over last decade: MOE (Straits Times, 9 Nov 2014)​

The percentage of each Primary 1 cohort admitted to post-secondary education institutions has improved steadily over the last 10 years, from 90 percent in 2004 to 95 per cent in 2013, the Ministry of Education said on Monday.

In its report on the overall 10-year trend of educational performance released on Monday, the Ministry also said PSLE results have remained stable during this period, both in terms of overall percentage of pass es and the percentage of PSLE students who scored A*-C in each subject.

At the GCE ‘A’ Level, the overall percentage of students with at least 3 ‘A’/’H2′ passes and a pass in General Paper or Knowledge and Inquiry has improved over the last 10 years, from 89 per cent in 2004 to 91 per cent in 2013.

The overall percentage of students with at least three GCE ‘O’ Level passes and at least five ‘O’ Level passes has remained stable over the last 10 years, the report said.


Lab on wheels to expose primary-school pupils to tech such as robotics launched (Straits Times, 8 Nov 2014)

A mobile classroom will be making its way to schools from January next year. The Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore on Saturday launched its lab on wheels, to encourage the young to start tinkering with technology.

The retrofitted bus will travel to 80 primary schools and reach out to 16,000 pupils in the next two years. Onboard, pupils will take part in games and activities such as robotics and learn simple visual programming language designed for creating games. Pilot sessions with four schools – Qifa Primary, Yu Neng Primary, Cedar Primary and Geylang Methodist Primary – have already been conducted.

Several industry players have also come forward to contribute to the initiative. For instance, tech company Silicon Straits will bring in innovative toys and learning kits that contain electrical parts such as dimmers, motors and pressure sensors for pupils to experience with.

Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim, who was at the launch at Vivocity, said the programmes on board aim to make exploring technology “fun and engaging”. The hope is that they will spark students’ interest and spur them to explore their interest in technology further, perhaps in their careers, he added.

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