SINGAPORE - Dutch and Singapore students have something to teach each other, according to the minister in charge of education in The Netherlands.
Dr Jet Bussemaker believes the young in her country can pick up a lesson or two from students in Singapore on how to be more driven and ambitious.
On the other hand, local students, raised on a culture of rote learning, could learn to be more critical and ask more questions, like their Dutch counterparts.
Dr Bussemaker, Minister of Education, Culture and Science, was speaking to The Straits Times yesterday, after a talk on the education systems in the Netherlands and Singapore, at the National University of Singapore.
She was on a one-day study trip to look at Singapore's education system, during which she also met Education Minister Heng Swee Keat.
In the Netherlands, ambitious people are viewed as "nerds", she said, adding that "Dutch students do not have a very ambitious study culture and that's what I want to stimulate".
But she does not want them to focus on just getting As or university degrees.
Rather, she wants them to acquire knowledge at a university, pick up skills from activities outside school and use their talents to fulfil their ambitions.
As for Singapore students, Dr Bussemaker said the views and information she received indicate that they tend to learn by repeating information taught by teachers.
She felt that they could learn from Dutch students who are more inquisitive and are good at team work.
"Asking questions is necessary to stimulate curiosity and also to find new results," she said.
During her meeting with Mr Heng, she said, they discussed the importance of teaching students about culture, among other things.
But such lessons, they agreed, should not be done by adding more subjects but by incorporating them into existing ones, she said during her talk at the university.
This article was published on April 2 in The New Paper.
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