Schools will have to go beyond equipping students for examinations and prepare them for life, Education Minister Heng Swee Keat said yesterday as he spelt out new initiatives to make the shift happen.
Speaking at the Ministry of Education's (MOE) annual workplan seminar at Ngee Ann Polytechnic, he took pains to explain why Singapore's education system - admired worldwide for producing top performers in maths and science - had to change course.
The reason: A globalised world and a future marked by unpredictability.
The education system, he said, needs to now produce all-round students who can work with people from different backgrounds and adapt to what companies term a "VUCA" environment - volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous.
"To deal with the demands of a VUCA environment, good grades in school are not enough. In fact, they might not even be relevant."
To thrive in such a world, students "need to have the confidence to deal with problems that have no clear-cut solutions", he said. "And they need to be able to work effectively with others across races and nationalities."
The demands of the future are not just economic, he noted.
"For a strong social fabric... our young must care for one another and be committed to our collective future," he said, before explaining how MOE plans to achieve this.
He announced that by 2017, all secondary schools will offer two distinct schemes to stretch students beyond academics.