Singapore's education system will be continually improved so that a person's future is not decided at just one single point in his learning journey, said President Tony Tan Keng Yam.
Also, more will be done, from pre-school education to lifelong learning for workers, to ensure the pathways upwards are open to all Singaporeans, regardless of background or family circumstances.
In his address at the re-opening of Parliament yesterday, Dr Tan said Singapore must remain a nation of opportunities for all.
"Those who do not succeed at first should have a second chance, indeed must always have the chance to try again," he said.
"We want an open and inclusive society, where all have opportunities to learn, and to earn our own success; where we respect fellow Singaporeans, regardless of social status, for the worth we see in everyone; and where we interact informally with one another free of rigid social hierarchy."
The education system, he said, must uphold this ethos, allowing the abilities of Singaporeans to be fully developed.
To achieve it, the Government will invest more early on, by improving pre-school education so that the less privileged can get a good start.
He noted the competitive milestones in the education system such as Primary 1 registration and the Primary School Leaving Examination.
But improvements will be made so that "no one single point in our education will wholly determine our future".
"We will ensure that every school is a good school, and offer more opportunities for students to hone their interests and talents across many fields," he added.
Different options that cater to students' varying abilities and rates of development will also be created.
For example, the Aspire committee will explore ways to create more opportunities for ITE and polytechnic students.
The committee will recommend, later this year, ways for these institutions to stay in tune with the changing economy.
The number of university places will also be increased, with new degree programmes that will focus more on practical application, said Dr Tan.
But learning is a lifelong process, he said, pledging that the Government will help workers upgrade their skills and stay abreast of changing industry demands.
"This is critical because jobs are changing faster, and knowledge is becoming obsolete more quickly," said the President.
To this end, the continuing education and training system will be strengthened, including the two new centres in Paya Lebar and Jurong.
These various efforts are aimed not only at the low-income workers, but also middle-income employees, professionals, executives and managers, said Dr Tan.
This article was published on May 17 in The Straits Times.
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