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Start of School Year 2013

Guest of Honour: Mr George Yeo

Date: 18 January 2013, Friday  

Time: 3.00pm to 5.30pm

Venue: Gallery Room, Level 2, Traders Hotel, 1A Cuscaden Road, Singapore 249716

Learning is a life-long process and leaders in the Academy of Principals (Singapore) recognise that our educators have to progress together with the changes in the societies they serve. We are always seeking out the best and most innovative aspects of modern education worldwide for Singapore and its schools.

By providing structured learning opportunities and engaging our members in continuing education, we believe that our School Leaders will gain insights into the latest thinking and practices from a global perspective, and hence further develop their professional and personal capabilities.

The Academy regularly invites distinguished leaders in education, captains of industry and enterprise as well as well-known local personalities to share their rich experiences and perspectives about what's important for the future, and therefore, by extension, for learning. This year we have the privilege to have Mr George Yeo, a Visiting Scholar of Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy and also a former Cabinet Minister to have a session with our participants as well as to share his thoughts on education.

It is hoped that through a platform such as the Start of School Year, members will be continually updated on the latest trends, movements and pedagogies in education and thus remain at the forefront of leadership in education.


About the Speaker
George Yong-Boon Yeo is a former Member of Parliament and Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Singapore. He currently serves as Vice-Chairman of Kerry Group and is a Visiting Scholar at Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy of the National University of Singapore.

Mr. Yeo studied Engineering at Cambridge University from 1973-76 on a President’s Scholarship and served in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) as a Signals Officer. After graduating from the Singapore Command and Staff College in 1979, Mr. Yeo was posted to the Republic of Singapore Air Force. He attended Harvard Business School in 1983 and graduated as a Baker Scholar. Upon his return to Singapore in 1985, he went on to appointments as Chief- of-Staff of the Air Force (1985-1986) and Director of Joint Operations and planning in the Ministry of Defence (1986-1988), attaining the rank of Brigadier-General. He resigned from the SAF in August 1988 to enter politics.

From 1988 to 2011, Mr. Yeo was one of the elected Members of Parliament (MPs) for Aljunied Group Representation Constituency (GRC). He held the positions of: Minister of State for Finance and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs (1988-1991); Acting Minister for Information and the Arts and Senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs (1990-1991); Minister for Information and the Arts (1991-1999); Second Minister for Foreign Affairs (1991-1994); Minister for Health (1994-1997); Second Minister for Trade and Industry (1997-1999); Minister for Trade and Industry (1999-2004); and Minister for Foreign Affairs (2004-2011). After losing his seat in the General Elections of May 2011, he spent a few months in Peking University as a Visiting Scholar before joining the private sector on Jan 1, 2012.

Mr. Yeo served as Chairman of the Young PAP (People’s Action Party) from 1991 to 2000. From 1992 to 2011, he also represented the Eurasian community in the Cabinet. In addition, Mr. Yeo was a member of the Harvard Business School's Visiting Committee from 1998 to 2004 and has been the Advisor to the Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall in Singapore since its establishment in November 2001. He is a member of the Governing Board of Nalanda University in India and chairs its International Advisory Panel. He has been a Patron of LASALLE College of the Arts since 1988. In 2012, he was presented with the Order of Sikatuna by the Philippines Government and the Padma Bhushan by the Indian Government.

11th AGM on 23 March 2012 at St James Power Station

DyDGE (Schools) Ms Low Khah Gek came for the 11th AGM and shared with us some insights on Future Challenges for Education and the School Leadership.
Future Challenges for Education and the School Leadership

It was an intriguing perspective as what we in MOE and in schools do and why we do it is compared with what the public (including parents) see and how they view the educational process and our schools. It is quite startling how differently the two groups see the same things. Some are not even on the same continuum!
  • We are concerned for holistic development for school and life; the public, especially parents, want their children to get a degree
  • We would like to meet student needs against a backdrop of industry needs and national goals; parents especially want us to personalise our courses to the needs of their particular child.
  • We would have it that all our schools are good schools; the public still perceives that some schools have better programmes, better teachers and better resources.
  • Our concern is to support those who need support i.e. children from low SES background; parents are interested in our providing enrichment opportunities even while they see tuition as an unavoidable option.
  • Our meritocracy is based on exam results; some members of the public think that exam results are not even relevant for 21st century work and living and that we should use a new base for meritocracy.
  • We believe in connecting with the community; some members of the public want it taken further into social and civic activism.
  • We see technology as a pedagogical tool; some members of the public see technology as the teacher.
  • We know information literacy is critical; some other members of the public think technology is only for communication and games.
  • We know there is an increased demand on teacher competencies; the public has made it clear that teachers are subject to its scrutiny and to comparisons.
  • We see there are links between pre-school, primary school, secondary school and post-secondary education; the public feels there is not enough information and career guidance.
  • We stress life-long learning with our staff and our students; the public feels that continual education should be provided at the workplace by employers.
Clearly there are gaps which we can bridge, either by improving our practice or by strengthening the communication process with the public. In both directions, it will be about continuing to learn and understand the changing landscape.

But above closing the gaps, or rather to be consistent while closing the gaps, must be our unwavering commitment to educate our students.