I read with great sadness that Mr Heng Swee Keat is no more our Education Minister and has been appointed as the new Finance Minister.
Great sadness for 2 reasons.
One, because he has been student-centric and we are starting to see the fruits of his labour and two, because 4 years is simply too short to see real changes as the education cogwheel is so complex. Another term helmed by Mr Heng would have been good.
|Source: Channel News Asia|
After reading the article MOE to get two new acting ministers in today’s Straits Times, I feel even worse.
I raised this issue with Mr Heng about a year ago when I had a chance to speak with him at a dinner. I shared with him some sentiments on the ground. I told him that after it was announced that the PSLE aggregate score would be scraped, kiasu parents have been scrambling to sign their kids up for more enrichment classes in the creative arts to boost their portfolios, in the void of further information on how all the A students are going to be differentiated.
Just when we thought things are moving forwards, would it be back to the drawing board? Besides the PSLE aggregate problem, there are many more issues at hand.
When I attended a dialogue session at the MOE 2 years ago, they shared with us that with some policies, it is one step forwards, two steps back. Many a time, it is the parents who need convincing.
I totally agree that the ministry can’t work alone and that parents play a huge role.
However, to build a good relationship, doesn’t it take time and trust?
Over the past 4 years, we have come to like and respect Mr Heng and his views, and parents are more open to the directives coming from his office.
There’s another aspect of the re-shuffling which unsettled me.
Why do I get the sense that it’s politics before people?
I thought it strange that some teachers who had been teaching for decades had this to say about the Education portfolio, but now I understand their acquiescence.
“We are like a ball. Always passed around.”
I can only hope that the 2 new ministers work fast to get a feel of the situation on the ground and address the pressing problems facing our children, as the education situation from pre-school to tertiary not only affects their future, but also has a direct impact on the lives of families in the here and now.
On a brighter note, something to cheer about is having two new acting ministers.
Mr Ng Chee Meng will oversee pre-schools, primary and secondary schools, and Junior Colleges. He has served for three decades in the Singapore Armed Forces, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed as to his direction.
Mr Ong Ye Kung, who has served as Mr Lee’s principal private secretary and was NTUC deputy secretary-general, will be in charge of ITEs, polytechnics, universities, private education, and continuing education and training.
We wish Mr Heng Swee Keat all the best in his new appointment, and warmly welcome Mr Ng and Mr Ong in their new positions and hope that this change in leadership will bear much fruit for Singapore in the coming years.