There will be added components devoted to mental wellness issues and peer support under the Character and Citizenship Education (CCE).
MOE to implement mental health education as a component of CCE. Photo: iStock
Mental health education – schools to teach students to overcome setbacks
Second Minister for Education Indranee Rajah noted in Parliament yesterday, that mental wellness is one of the key issues youth deal with in current times, and will be part of the new CCE curriculum in secondary schools. This is “to help students to understand common mental health issues and their symptoms, know when and how to seek help for themselves and others, and develop empathy and care towards persons with mental health issues”, she noted.
She further added that teachers will focus on creating “a positive school learning environment”, and stated that the ministry will further look into enhancing teachers’ capabilities to facilitate a “positive classroom culture” and form “positive teacher-student relationships” through the SkillsFuture for Educators programme.
“I am, I have, I can” – focus on mental health education for teens
Students will be equipped with a mindset that would teach them to value their strengths, develop a positive outlook about themselves, and utilise peer and family support. They will also be taught skills that will help them regulate their emotions, and cultivate problem-solving skills that would help them better manage relationships and conflicts.
“To help students face challenges confidently, we will help students develop the resilience mindset of ‘I am, I have, I can’,” Ms Indranee, further noted.
MOE plans to implement peer support structures in every school by 2022, due to the benefits of peer support to the students’ well-being, and hopes to help develop every student to “be a peer supporter, forming a strong network of support in their class, CCA (co-curricular activity) or peer group, where they can look out for each other and seek guidance from teachers or counsellors where necessary.”
Children who still struggle with issues despite the enhanced mental health education measures that would be implemented will receive more support and will be monitored by teachers, educators and class advisors who will be trained to pick up signs of despair and refer them to mental health professionals if needed.
Schools to offer more support to children who face further mental health issues, despite enhanced curriculum. Photo: iStock
Promote digital literacy with new curriculum
The MOE is also set to launch a National Digital Literacy Programme for schools and Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs), to help students develop digital literacy skills.
The programme is aimed to develop skills at all grades, from primary to Pre-university and even Institutes of Higher Learning, and is focussed on helping students “acquire the digital skills required to navigate the digital age through four components in the ‘Find, Think, Apply and Create’ framework.”
Primary levels will benefit from a greater emphasis on cyber wellness education. They will also learn simple coding through the ‘Code for Fun’ programme.
Students at secondary and Pre-university levels will each have their own Personal Learning Device (PLD) by 2028, with the launch of PLDs to all secondary schools from June 2020.
All secondary students will have their own Personal Learning Device by 2028. Photo: iStock
More secondary schools will also offer computing subjects for O-Levels and A-Levels. The Science curriculum for Lower Secondary levels is said to face a revamp and will expose students to emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and other advancements in technology.
MOE will also develop digital competencies, “including computational thinking and data competencies (e.g. quantitative reasoning), across all the Autonomous Universities (AUs), polytechnics and ITE by AY2021.” The efforts include a focus on enhancing the cyber wellness curriculum.
Further, all polytechnic and ITE students will be exposed to AI-related topics, with further emphasis on developing digital competencies on AI given to students in sectors that employ its use, such as finance, manufacturing, logistics and cybersecurity sectors.
Schools to concentrate on ‘values before academics’
Secondary school students will be exposed to matters such as climate change, government policies and race and religion, and other such contemporary issues through CCE lessons.
“(Some of these topics) may be sensitive to discuss, but they are important to help our students better understand the complexities of our country and our life,” Mr. Ong stated, calling for specialised CCE teachers by 2022 and adding that a respectful tone would be taken during such discussions where different perspectives would be shared.
CCE teachings would also be merged with other student activities such as CCAs, camps, cohort learning journeys and Values-in-Action.
Primary schools will have an enhanced CCE curriculum as well, with emphasis being more on the teaching of moral values, according to Education Minister Ong Ye Kung.
The CCE curriculum for Primary 1 to 3 students will be focussed on developing character and values, while CCE and mother tongue lessons for all primary school students will be “better aligned, as many character and values lessons are taught during mother tongue lessons”, he said, reflecting on the teachings of the old Chinese saying: “values before academics.”
Understanding and exploring our neighbouring countries
Schools to focus on studying Asia. Photo: iStock
The humanities curriculum is also set to face changes, with more emphasis being placed on studying Asia and countries within our own region.
Mr Ong noted that it is essential to provide students with a “deeper appreciation of the geographies, histories, cultures, languages and economies of our regional countries.”
Singaporean students will also be involved in more overseas trips to Asian countries, as it is “our own backyard” and a region where Singaporeans “have a natural competitive advantage”, he added.
Conversational ASEAN languages will also be offered to students from primary to pre-university levels, starting with Vietnamese and Thai, in order to better equip Singaporeans “with the relevant knowledge, language and cultural skills,” Mr Ong added.