Study into the purposes of education in society

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Education is the process of inculcating values in a person and developing the student's mental, physical and social abilities.

The purpose of education is to develop the knowledge, skills and mould the character of students.

Education also serves many different functions. It aims to give a person the mental capacity to think and make decisions. It develops a person mentally and physically. It allows a person to explore his inclinations, abilities and glean a set of skills and knowledge to find him gainful employment. It builds a person up in his self-esteem. On a society level, education gains to assimilate a person into the norms of the society.

The aim of education is to bring out a child's inner potential so that he will be a good citizen who is responsible and can engage in cohesion with the various races of our multi-racial and multi-religious society.

The vision of education is to have a 21st century education system to develop an intellectual and responsible generation of tomorrow.

The mission of education is to mould our future generation to useful individuals to ensure that Singapore's future is vibrant. In this way, Singapore's economy will continue to prosper.

The society hopes that through the provision of education to its people, they will learn vital skills and acquire the educational qualifications to enter an industry of Singapore relevant to their field of study. These skilled professionals will be able to contribute to the various sectors of Singapore's industry, triggering Singapore's economic growth.

Policy makers and educators have a clear goal to create a 21st century education system that utilizes ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) Tools in teaching like PDF annotator and media like you tube and face book. They also have to make lessons exciting for our new generation of youngsters.

The current trends in society are an ageing population where there is long life expectancy and low birth rate. There is massive group of people in the age range of sixty to sixty-five. Nowadays, people who are married have one or at most two children as the cost of living is skyrocketing. The government is moving from a manufacturing-intensive economy to a knowledge-based economy which utilizes ICT.

The current issues of society are that with less newborn babies every year, there will be less manpower. There will be increased burden on the limited amount of manpower and a knowledge based economy that requires less manpower is the way to go.

With an excellent education system, a holistic healthcare system, a balanced life and a great place to work, one will accumulate sufficient savings and retire comfortably. This leads to a longer lifespan. An ageing population results in higher expenses in healthcare and recreational areas.

The various educational policies and initiatives implemented to address the challenges facing Singapore includes good policies like:

All new teachers have to be university graduates from 2015 so that the teaching workforce is highly qualified to teach.

Primary Schools will move to a single session. Schools will have more teaching aides to assist teachers in administrative tasks like printing notes so teachers have more time to carry out non-academic subjects like music, art and extra-curriculum activities like sports.

GROW 2.0 Package

It illustrates professional development packages to support teachers for their tertiary studies.

There is higher performance bonus for teachers. Presently, performance bonus is 1month, 1.5 months and 2.25 months for good, very good and outstanding performers respectively.  In the past, performance bonus was 0.5 months, 1 month and 1.25 month for good, very good and outstanding performers respectively.

There is higher pay as the annual salary of good performers will be raised by 12%. The annual salary for very good and outstanding performers will be raised by 18%. A classroom teacher with 3 years of teaching experience on the General Education Officer (GEO) 1A1 grade, the annual pay package will increase from $52,000 to $58,000 for a good performer and from $55,000 to $65,000 for an outstanding performer. 

For an experienced Principal on the Senior Education Officer (SEO) Super scale 'H', the annual pay package will increase from $168,000 to $193,000 for a good performer and from $185,000 to $218,000 for an outstanding performer. 

There are more gratuity benefits like Connect Plan to attract teachers. After retirement at age 62, a GEO 1 Teacher on the degree scheme will now receive about 6% more gratuities, resulting in $168,800, compared to $158,400 previously. A GE0 2 Teacher will receive $124,200, compared to $116,800. The plan has been reduced from 40-years to 30-years.

Under the Connect Plan, teachers receive annual deposits throughout their teaching career. The revision in the Connect Plan is that teachers are now able to withdraw a portion of the money every milestone year.

There is the senior specialist track (SST) for teachers keen on being subject specialists in counseling, learning styles, educational psychology and instructional design.

All Education Officers above 62 years old who are physically fit to work and have good performance will be offered re-employment as Contract Adjunct Teachers up to age 65.

Part-time teaching scheme (PTTS) applies to classroom teachers who are married with children under 12 years of age or those aged 55 years old and above.  The PTTS is now extended to Subject Heads, Level Heads, HODs and Senior Teachers.

Now, both male and female teachers can apply for no-pay childcare leave up to their child's 4th birthday. Teachers can now accompany their spouses who are sent on overseas posting or training for up to four years on no-pay leave, instead of the current three years.

As Singapore becomes a knowledge-based economy, the government introduced a "Silver Infocomm Initiative" to ensure that even senior citizens are IT Savvy. The senior citizens can go for short courses that are heavily subsidized to learn more about IT. Silver Infocomm Centers for IT will be set up. Silver Infocomm hotspots will be available for people to surf the Internet.

There is a new Teachers' academy called Goh Keng Swee School of Education. It will first be built at Malan Road, Potong Pasir in 2011. It will be subsequently relocated to MOE at Buona Vista. This academy provides courses to train teachers in their respective teaching subjects like PE, art, music, English Language, English medium subjects and Mother tongue subjects like Chinese, Malay and Tamil.

There is a through-train Programme for Top 20% Normal Academic students to skip O-Levels and embark on Foundation Programme at a Polytechnic.

More Integrated Programmes with all-boys' Victoria School and Cedar Girls' Secondary School partnering with Victoria Junior College. Methodist Girls' School is tying up with Anglo Chinese School (Independent). St Joseph's Institution (SJI) will expand to offer IB.

Initiatives introduced by Ministry of Education include TLLM (Teach Less Learn More) Initiative, PBL (Problem-Based Learning)special awards like School Excellence award. It is an award for schools that provide students with a wholesome education and have achieved well in academic and non-academic areas. There is a also a School Distinction Award for schools that rewards schools for great teaching pedagogies that results in excellent results for students.

HPB collaborates with MOE on Healthy Eating in Schools Programme, to promote food with less oil, salt and sugar. There is a joint HPB-MOE Cherish Award that is given to schools that perform well in mental, emotional, physical and social well-being of all school personnel and students.

The major functions of schools are to provide students with a holistic education which comprises Extra-Curriculum Activities of the student's choice, physical education to promote healthy living as well as academic knowledge. Schools are a place to widen one's social circle when one makes friends with people who are about the same age.

The relation between education, schools and society is that education is a system that is incorporated in schools be it the academic curriculum, physical activities or extra-curriculum activities. The students studying in the schools will form long-lasting friendships with their fellow classmates and teachers. They will gain valuable qualifications to fit into society.

The implications for students in Singapore schools are that learning must be meaningful to the learner and the learner must have active participation in the learning. Students must be motivated to learn. Being initiative in learning, they will do their best to achieve the best learning outcomes. Students must be thinkers; they must comprehend what the content of their books mean and not result in rote learning. Rote learning is learning the facts by hard with no understanding of what the content is trying to relate to the student.

Students must think out of the box, be problem solvers and develop reasoning abilities. Learners must develop to their potential. Students adopt the TLLM (Teach less and learn more) Approach by doing research on different opinions on a subject to aid his understanding of what the teacher is teaching. There will be reduction in the syllabus and less emphasis on examinations.

Students engage in PBL (Problem-Based Learning) when they participate in Project Work. Project work requires students to collaborate and do research. This promotes creative thinking and entrepreneur spirit among the students. The student also learns from the teacher who checks if they are on the right direction. This will prepare the students for work in the corporate world where the employee has to be a great team player and work well as a team. When meetings are held, the employee has to give valuable input on the right decision to make.

The students must be confident learners and question on the content that is displayed to him and determine which facts are right or wrong.

Student can learn proactively by engaging in experimental learning. For example, chemistry students are placed in a chemistry lab and are given chemicals. They chemicals are mixed with some indicators like ammonia. They observe the color change in the chemicals and deduce whether the chemical is an acid or alkali.

Students can participate in outdoor learning by attending Outward Bound School, overseas trips, exchange programmes, practical attachments at companies and internships like Meranti project. This can enrich the experiences of students and build up the camaraderie between the students and teachers accompanying them.

The implications for teachers in Singapore schools are to be effective in their teaching methods. The teachers use ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) like using a tablet PC and use modern blackboard technology like PDF annotator. They should use PowerPoint slides to present their lessons. Students can also have a copy of their PowerPoint slides and not result in incessant copying of the content on the whiteboard. This will distract them from listening in class as they are too preoccupied with copying texts.

Teachers function as strategists. Teachers strategize on planning interesting lessons for the students. They can also do mind maps and do short summaries of notes and prepare extra questions for the students. Teachers can also conduct remedial classes to reach out to wayward students.

Teachers function as coaches. They head Extra-Curriculum activities if the school does not have enough budgets to recruit an external coach. For example, in dance, the teacher designs the choreography of the dance performance. He coaches the students, to familiarize them with the dance steps and leads them on to competitions like SYF (Singapore Youths Festival).

Teachers function as guides. They bring students on study trips to places of interest like Jurong Bird Park to understand birds, Sentosa Nature Discovery at Imbiah Lookout of Sentosa to look at flora and fauna and wildlife. For national education, teachers can bring students to Images of Singapore at Imbiah Lookout of Sentosa to understand the four races of Singapore through live shows, interactive displays and various exhibits. Students will discover for themselves Singapore's rich heritage and culture.

A teacher must have a positive attitude towards teaching students. Students will remain optimistic about their learning and be motivated towards gleaning vital knowledge and skills in their academic subjects.

A good teacher must be objective in his views and sensitive to the different races and religions of the students in his class. He has to be a caring and friendly teacher. He must have great passion in his teaching, to share the love of the subject to the students. This will motivate his students to learn more and do better in their studies.

A teacher is functioning as a facilitator and manager. He has to take charge of the learning process so that learning can be on target. This will make sure he can complete the syllabus of the academic subject he is teaching. He has to be enthusiastic and patient in his teaching so that the students will be interested in his teaching.

The teacher is doing the job of a counselor. He must care for the students and communicate with them and understand their problems in their studies as well as their family problems.

Teachers must upgrade their skills and go for retraining at NIE, SIM University or the newly-minted Teacher's college. This is to make sure that their skills remain relevant. A good teacher can make a positive difference in students' lives and inspire the students to do well, whether in the academic and non-academic areas like music, arts or sports.

(2000 Words)