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In the 21st Century Competencies and Desired Outcomes of Education framework, the aim is for our children to become a confident person, a self-directed learner, an active contributor and a concerned citizen. He is someone who is resilient and can think and communicates effectively. He must be able to reflects and take ownership of his learning, someone who is a team player who take initiatives and strives for excellence. He must be rooted to
Singapore and is concern with helping others around him.
Looking at the Primary School Curriculum (MOE Corporate Brochure, 2013), we can see that it is in line with the 21st CC and DOE framework. In its core is the learning of life skills and values through Character and Citizenship Education (CCE), Civil and Moral Education (CME), Social and Emotional Learning, National Education, Physical Education and Project Work where our children
learn self-confidence, determination, resilience, responsibility and how to work with others. Hence, besides the academic subjects like English, Mother Tongue, Science and Mathematics, the children also take up subjects like Art, Civics and Moral Education, Music, Social Studies and Physical Education.
So, how can the children learn these core values and life skills which are crucial to their future success? Who can teach them so that they may understand the importance and internalise them? Unlike the academic subjects where tests and examinations can be used to assess the children's skills and knowledge, there is no way we can access values. To assist the schools, the Ministry of Education (MOE) has come up with the 5Ps approach towards the teaching of CCE. They are Purpose, Pupil, ExPerience, Professional Development and Partnerships.
The Purpose of teaching CCE must be clear and endorsed by everyone in the school. This will help to integrate the CCE programmes into the school curriculum. In order for the programmes to be effective, it needs the right school culture and a 'whole-school' approach.
Pupil is the centre of the education system. So whatever we do, it must be pupil-centric. As each pupil is different and from diverse background, schools need to understand the pupils' profile and their challenges before any programmes can be successful for them. A great rapport between pupils and teachers will help to ensure the smooth implementation and success of the programmes, whether it is national programmes and school initiatives. Pupils must be taught to have the correct mindset and attitude towards learning. In doing so, they will have the desire to learn, either independently or with others. As they work with others, they learn to share and care for others. They will learn to stand firm for what they believe in while respecting the views of others. Though NE and CME activities, they will be proud of their identity and as a Singaporean.
Teaching CCE is not easy and it cannot be taught as a subject on its own. The pupils need to ExPerience it themselves either through academic, Co-Curriculum Activities (CCA) or other activities. While it cannot be taught on its own, it must be infused deliberately into the curriculum and not taught only when there is a teachable moment. There must be a deliberate effort to include CCE in the lesson plan and teach them during lesson. And whenever teachable moment arises, teachers must be able to catch it and present it to the pupils so that they experience it.
The fourth P is Professional Development. In order to achieve 21st CC and DOE, we must also have 21st century Singapore teachers. He must be an Ethical Educator, the Competent Professional, the Collaborative Learner, the Transformational Leader and the Community Builder. The Teacher Growth Model (TGM) is a professional development model which encourages and supports teachers in lifelong learning. Teachers must equip themselves with new knowledge to keep abreast with the current environment
and technologies. They must conscientiously include and infused values teaching in their activities. They must have the passion, believe and motivate the child to discover his potential and to be the best he wants to be.
The fifth P is Partnership and it refers to Home-School-Community partnership. Home is the first place where the pupils learn values. Once they start schooling, family and school need to collaborate to reinforce these values at home and in school. Communication and collaboration with the Community is also important as they can provide avenues for schools to have CCE programmes.
From the above 5Ps approach, we can see that there are many stakeholders involved in the CCE journey. Not only does it involve the pupils and teachers, it also requires the support from partners like the parents or caregivers, principal, MOE headquarter (HQ), community, alumni, school advisory committee and the industry.
Parents and caregivers are the ones who are responsible for the upbringing of the children. They are the ones who can set good examples for them to follow from young. By being caring and responsible, they too will learn these values. Parents and caregivers can play an active role by being interested in what the children are doing at home, in school and outside school. By being involved in their life, it ensures that they do not let get into the wrong company and learn the wrong values.
Principal sets the direction for the school. He can create an environment that is supportive of the 5Ps framework as he translates policies into action plans. He is also the link between parents, alumni and community. Besides supporting CCE programmes, he needs to lead by example through both his professional and personal life. Once a person is in authority, he cannot be invisible as whatever he does, right or wrong, will put him in the limelight.
MOE HQ sets the strategic directions for schools. They need to listen and collaborate with schools and other government agencies to formulate policies and practices. In order to implement the programmes, it requires the support and cooperation from the teachers and schools. They also need to support the teachers and school in terms of resources and training required to cater to the needs of the diverse learners. MOE not only gives out awards base on academic achievement, it also give out the Edusave Character Award which recognise students for outstanding behaviour.
Communities like SINDA, CDAC and MENDAKI play an important role in helping pupils and their families who need assistance. They offer scholarships and bursaries to pupils to help them in their education journey. This inculcates the value of giving back to society and encourages the pupils to be involved in community work.
The Alumni is a great platform to teach the pupils about loyalty and responsibility. The old boys and girls are links to the school's history. Growing up in the same culture, they can be mentors and role models to the pupils. Some alumni also give out scholarships and bursaries to deserving pupils.
Business and industry can provide opportunities for pupils to experience working life. They can work with MOE HQ and schools to devise training programmes which are relevant to the workforce. These businesses can be partners in the Work Attachment (TWA) programme where teachers can apply and take up work attachments in the private or public sectors. This helps to develop the teachers professionally so that they may enhance the pupils' learning.
Although there is a framework for CCE, it needs the cooperation and commitment from all parties concerned. We can achieve more only when all work together towards a common goal.
As a beginning teacher, I feel that the most important and most challenging task will be to create the right environment for learning, build rapport with the pupils and establish open communication with the parents or caregivers. I would also need to build up my teaching resources within a short period of time. Being inexperience, supportive and understanding mentors and colleagues will help to make the learning curve less steep. Taken from a quote by Jim Rohn, "Character isn't something you were born with and can't change, like your fingerprints. It's something you weren't born with and must take responsibility for forming." Personally, I feel that, at the primary school level, this responsibility comes mainly from the parents and caregivers and teachers who are in direct contact with the pupils every day. They play the most important roles in inculcating the correct values which are critical to their success in work and life.
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