Photo of Ong Ye Kung from Straits Times

Speaking at a Bursary award ceremony, Minister Ong Ye Kung said that the government does not intend to put in more money on new education institutes, and instead will focus on reducing the standard of qualification by lowering the bar. According to the Minister, students need not work harder to achieve better grades and would still qualify for courses through “aptitude and passion”:

“These include measures targeted at reducing the over-emphasis on academic achievement and grades, and which encourage students to pursue their passions and talents. For example, aptitude-based admissions in polytechnics and the Institute of Technical Education have been expanded, with both being able to admit up to 15 per cent of their intakes through such schemes from the next academic year.”

However, there is no mention of qualification through “aptitude and passion” in Junior College routes. Singaporean students aiming for the JC routes will still have to meet the A level examination standards. Without similar changes applying on JC qualification, elitism is likely entrench further in Singapore’s education system and cheapen the value of ITE and Polytechnic certifications.

Education Minister Ong Ye Kung also poured praises for the Budget and said that it is about “changing the way things are done”:

“This year’s Budget is about changing the way things are done here so as to help Singapore stay ahead of the curve in the disruptive economy.”

The Education Minister who shares half the ministry with Minister Ng Chee Meng did not provide specifics on which aspect was the Budget “different” and went figurative in his speech:

“It may appear unchanged on the outside, like a computer. But inside, the operating system is changing, the algorithm is changing. From the Education Ministry’s perspective, that is an overwhelming adjustment.”