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Thread: Singapore Also Can
07-04-2012, 08:42 PM #6257
Celebrate the city at NDP2012
04:45 AM Jul 05, 2012
Spectators can expect a visual treat at this year's National Day Parade, with a set that looks like Singapore's cityscape. Performers will take to 11 moving stages throughout the show that celebrates the nation's 47th birthday on Aug 9, engaging the spectators as the parade transits from one act to another.
The set, which took two months to build, has black screens lined up to look like new skyscrapers rising to blend in with the cityscape. PHOTO ERNEST CHUA
Photo by ERNEST CHUA
07-04-2012, 08:52 PM #6258
Finally, a dream lifts off
Helena Wong becomes the first Singaporean woman to represent the nation in weightlifting at the Games
by Low Lin Fhoong
04:46 AM Jul 05, 2012
SINGAPORE - One of the Republic's most storied sports, weightlifting, is making a long awaited return to the Olympic Games after more than three decades.
Helena Wong, 24, will don the national colours at the July 27 to Aug 12 London Games after receiving an unused quota place in the women's 53kg category from the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF).
Wong, a lecturer at the Institute of Technical Education, will also be the first Singaporean woman to compete in weightlifting at the event.
Singapore was last featured in the sport at the 1976 Montreal Games, where Chua Koon Siong finished ninth out of 17 competitors in the featherweight category.
Currently placed joint-25th on the Commonwealth Weightlifting Federation rankings, Wong is looking forward to making her debut in London just three years after picking up the sport in 2009.
"It really means a lot to me to go to the Olympics, and that I've become part of Singapore's sporting history. There is added meaning as well as our first Olympic medal was won by Tan Howe Liang in 1960 and it's a great feeling to be able to compete there," said Wong.
"I hope to better what I did at the SEA Games in Indonesia and improve on my personal best of 153kg. I'm sure this will also boost my confidence as I am hoping to qualify for next year's SEA Games as well."
Wong had also created history in 2010 when she became the first female weightlifter to qualify for the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, where she finished in eighth spot. At last year's SEA Games in Palembang, she finished sixth after posting a personal best of 153kg.
The 24-year-old will join a list of local weightlifting pioneers which include Thong Saw Park, Lon Mohamed Noor and Chay Weng Yew - they were the first to compete for the country at the 1952 Helsinki Games - as well as Tan Howe Liang, who won Singapore's first Olympic silver medal in Rome in 1960. His feat was only matched at the 2008 Beijing Games when the table tennis women clinched a silver in the team event.
Singapore Weightlifting Federation president Tom Liaw was happy to see the sport's return to the world's biggest stage. He told TODAY: "This definitely augurs well for weightlifting and I hope it will generate more interest from the younger generation. I hope more will come forward to join the sport ... we want to be able to qualify more athletes for next year's SEA Games, and hopefully win a medal when Singapore hosts the Games in 2015."
Wong is the latest addition to the 22-strong Singapore contingent heading to the London Games to compete across nine sports - athletics, swimming, table tennis, badminton, weightlifting, artistic gymnastics, shooting, sailing and canoeing.
07-04-2012, 09:06 PM #6259
SOTA, NAFA in partnership to strengthen arts education
Posted: 04 July 2012 1713 hrs
School of the Arts and Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts have signed a Memorandum of Understanding which will formalise the processes for SOTA students seeking admission to a range of NAFA diploma courses.
SINGAPORE: Two premier arts institutions in Singapore will work together to strengthen the aspirations of young artistic talents and prepare them to play active roles in the development of the arts and cultural landscape.
School of the Arts (SOTA) and Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Wednesday.
It formalises the processes for SOTA students seeking admission to a range of NAFA diploma courses.
They'll benefit from a number of credit exemptions.
This will speed up their paths to attaining a specialised diploma and a degree, if they so wish to.
The memorandum covers entry requirements for SOTA students who have completed Years 4, 5 or 6 of the SOTA programme, the module exemption schedule for various courses, and the special admissions process and timeline.
SOTA Year 4 students with relevant Dance, Theatre or Visual Arts subjects can enrol in NAFA's Diploma in Dance, Theatre, 3D Design, Design & Media or Fine Art.
They can benefit from up to 26 credits of exemption.
Visual Arts students enrolling in 3D Design, Design & Media and Fine Art can further benefit from direct admission and skip the interview process.
SOTA Year 6 students with relevant Dance, Theatre, Visual Arts and Music subjects can receive up to 41 credits of exemption when they enrol in NAFA's various diploma courses.
Students without credit exemption will need to complete at least 120 credits to graduate from a diploma course.
This arrangement provides a pathway for a small segment of SOTA students who wish to embark on a dedicated arts programme at the tertiary level after their fourth year.
07-04-2012, 09:14 PM #6260
Free e-book for mental health professionals released
Published on Jul 4, 2012
By Melissa Pang
A free e-book for professionals dealing with child and teenage mental health issues is now available for download.
The resource contains best practices and treatments for youth with mental conditions. Users can also access related links embedded within the e-book, and listen to real-life interviews of those affected by various mental health problems.
The e-book is written by 102 experts from 24 countries and published by the International Association for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Allied Professions.
Associate Professor Daniel Fung, general secretary of the association and chairman of the Institute of Mental Health's medical board, said the book provides 'updated, practical, culturally appropriate' materials that those who work with mental health issues of children, adolescents and families can access freely anywhere in the world.
Where to get the e-book:
The e-book, updated yearly, is available on IACAPAP's website: http://iacapap.org/iacapap-textbook-...-mental-health.
07-05-2012, 02:09 AM #6261
NUS law school ranks among top 10 in the world
Posted: 05 July 2012 1446 hrs
SINGAPORE: The National University of Singapore's Faculty of Law (NUS Law) is now among the top 10 law schools in the world.
In the "2012 World University Rankings by Subject" by London-based Quacquarelli Symonds, NUS Law is placed at 10th position in Law, climbing 14 places from its previous ranking of 24th in 2011.
It is the only law school from Asia to join the top 10, which include universities such as Harvard and Oxford.
"NUS Law is Asia's global law school and aspires to be one of the very best law schools in the world. This latest recognition of our achievements is testimony to the hard work of our faculty and students, but also the successes of our alumni," Dean of NUS Law Professor Simon Chesterman said.
Earlier this year, as part of a strategy to position NUS Law as Asia's global law school, the Centre for Asian Legal Studies was established to serve as a leading forum for research on Asian law.
The centre, headed by Professor Andrew Harding, is the first of its kind in Asia.
NUS said the centre builds on NUS Law's collaborations with other law schools in the region as part of the Asian Law Institute.
It focuses on justice and law reform issues across Asia, offering Asian perspectives on these issues.
NUS said students of its law school are given rigorous legal training, together with personal and professional skills.
This includes opportunities to spend a semester or more at partner law schools in over 15 countries, or complete the final year with a Masters of Laws degree from New York University or Boston University.
Together with the NUS Centre for International Law, it recently announced the creation of the Singapore International Arbitration Academy, which will take in its first candidates in November.
07-05-2012, 02:29 AM #6262
Temasek Holdings portfolio grows but net profit declines
Published on Jul 5, 2012
People walking by the Temasek Holdings signboard. Singapore's Temasek Holdings said on Thursday that the size of its portfolio grew slightly in the last financial year but net profit fell because of a tougher business environment. -- ST PHOTO: BRYAN VAN DER BEEK
SINGAPORE (REUTERS) - Singapore's Temasek Holdings said on Thursday that the size of its portfolio grew slightly in the last financial year but net profit fell because of a tougher business environment.
Investing mainly in Asia, its portfolio stood at $198 billion at the end of March 2012, up from $193 billion a year ago.
Group net profit, however, fell to $10.7 billion from $12.7 billion a year earlier partly due to a weaker performance by some of the firms in its portfolio.
The Singapore fund had a net cash position at the end of March 2012 and was looking for opportunities in various areas such as energy and commodities.
07-05-2012, 04:54 AM #6263
More couples tie the knot in 2011
Posted: 05 July 2012 1047 hrs
Bride and bridegroom pose for a photo
SINGAPORE - More people in Singapore got married last year compared to 2010. The number of marriages increased 12 per cent or 2,895 to 27,258 in 2011.
The Department of Statistics (DOS) said this in its report, Statistics and Marriages in 2011, on Thursday.
In tandem with the rebound in the number of registered marriages, the general marriage rates increased in 2011.
Among unmarried male residents, it increased from 39.4 marriages per thousand unmarried men in 2010 to 43.7 in 2011.
Among unmarried female residents, the rate rose from 37.2 to 41.4 marriages per thousand unmarried women during the same period.
But the 2011 general marriage rates were lower compared with 2001, which was 47.0 for males and 46.3 for females.
Compared with 2001, marriage rates in 2011 fell across the younger age groups below 30 years.
The peak age group for men marrying shifted from 25-29 years in 1991 to 30-34 years in 2001 and 2011.
The peak age group for women marrying remained at 25-29 years in 2011.
In 2011, 75 per cent of total marriages were first marriages for the couples, 18 per cent were remarriages for one of the partners and the remaining 7.7 per cent were remarriages for both partners.
Compared with 2001, remarriages made up a higher proportion of total marriages in 2011.
Muslim marriages had a higher proportion of remarriages than civil marriages. In 2011, 33 per cent of Muslim marriages were remarriages for at least one of the partners, compared with 24 per cent for civil marriages.
Where educational background is concerned, more grooms with primary or lower education were marrying brides with at least a secondary qualification.
Over the past decade (2001-2011), the proportion of such grooms in civil marriages increased from 47 per cent to 71 per cent. The proportion of such grooms in Muslim marriages increased from 45 per cent to 64 per cent.
The proportion of university-educated grooms marrying brides with the same qualification also rose in the last decade. It increased from 69 per cent to 78 per cent for grooms in civil marriages, and from 39 per cent to 58 per cent for grooms in Muslim marriages.
Among graduate brides, the proportion marrying graduate grooms was 75 per cent in 2011 for civil marriages, relatively unchanged from the 76 per cent in 2001. For Muslim marriages, the proportion dropped from 44 per cent to 40 per cent over the same period.
The number of marital dissolutions, which comprised divorces and annulments, stood at 7,604 in 2011, up from 7,338 in 2010.
The crude rate of divorce rose slightly to 2.0 divorces per thousand residents in 2011, after remaining at 1.9 since 2008.
Among married male residents, the general divorce rate increased slightly from 7.5 per thousand married men in 2010 to 7.6 in 2011.
The divorce rate among married female residents was 7.2 in 2011, unchanged from 2010.
Compared to a decade ago, the general divorce rates in 2011 were significantly higher. The rate for males rose from 6.3 in 2001 to 7.6 in 2011, while that for females climbed from 6.4 in 2001 to 7.2 in 2011.
The ages of divorcees increased as well. The median age of male and female divorcees in 2011 was 41.3 and 37.7 respectively, compared to 39 and 35.5 in 2001.
The median marriage duration for divorces in 2011 was 10.5 years. For Muslim divorces, the duration was 8.4 years and for civil divorces, it was 11.1 years.
Couples who were married for 5 to 9 years accounted for the largest group - at 30 per cent of civil divorces. This was followed by those who were married for 20 years or longer - at 20 per cent.
Among civil divorces, the top reason for parting ways in 2011 was "unreasonable behaviour".
"Unreasonable behaviour" of spouse was cited as the main reason by 56 per cent of the female plaintiffs.
"Having lived apart or separated for three years or more" was the main reason for 58 per cent of the male plaintiffs.
Among Muslim divorces, "infidelity or extra-marital affair" and "domestic violence and abuses" were the top reasons for couples parting ways.
21 per cent cited infidelity while 17 per cent cited domestic violence and abuse.
Divorces in 2011 were filed mostly by the wife - 65 per cent for civil divorces and 70 per cent for Muslim divorces.
07-05-2012, 05:03 AM #6264
Ex-president Nathan awarded honorary doctorate from NUS
Published on Jul 5, 2012
Former president SR Nathan was among the 260 graduates at a National University of Singapore's (NUS) commencement ceremony on Thursday. -- TABLA PHOTO: ARUN RAMU
By Matthias Chew
Former president S R Nathan was among the 260 graduates at a National University of Singapore's (NUS) commencement ceremony on Thursday.
He received an Honorary Doctor of Letters from NUS Chancellor Tony Tan Keng Yam.
In his speech, NUS president Tan Chorh Chuan paid tribute to Mr Nathan's 'dedication to service' as the longest-serving president of the Republic and a top civil servant.
The NUS president also announced that the university will start a professorship in social work named after Mr Nathan, in honour of his contributions to Singapore and to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Social Work Department.
07-06-2012, 01:18 AM #6265
Landmark deals, record participation & integration push cap World Cities Summit
Posted: 05 July 2012 2213 hrs
Singapore skyline (Photo by: Hester Tan, channelnewsasia.com)
SINGAPORE: The World Cities Summit ended on a high note with landmark deals signed, record participation and a call for cities to focus more on integrated solutions.
The event, held in Singapore from 1 to 4 July, brought together world leaders and key industry players.
It served as a platform for them to address challenges and develop integrated solutions for sustainable cities.
Executive director of the Centre for Liveable Cities, Mr Khoo Teng Chye, said on Thursday that with a stronger business focus this year, the summit saw several significant partnerships between the public and private sector.
One of them was by Surbana International Consultants.
It became the first Singapore urban planning company to break into the Rwandan market, after it was appointed to handle the masterplan of Kigali, the capital city of Rwanda.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was also signed by Singapore's Housing & Development Board (HDB), Electricité de France (EDF) and VEOLIA Environnement Recherche et Innovation (veolia).
They'll work on a complex Systems Model, which will help the HDB develop sustainable, urban planning solutions in its towns.
It was the first MOU between a Singapore public agency and EDF.
Mr Khoo said world leaders and experts acknowledged that complex urbanisation challenges can be turned into opportunities to transform cities and lives.
They agreed that the way forward for cities is to develop good governance and build strong partnerships among governments, companies, citizens and across cities.
The third edition of the World Cities Summit was the biggest-ever global event for sustainable cities so far, attended by a record 18,000 delegates from 104 countries and regions.
07-06-2012, 01:28 AM #6266
Star concert at Gardens by the Bay
The Star concert at Gardens by the Bay looks set to be a music, food and fun extravaganza
Published on Jul 6, 2012
Boys Like Girls fans (from left) Grace Yeo, 19, Jesslyn Lim, 17, Diane Chia, 19, and Kathy Lim, 17, with their custom-made T-shirts which they will be wearing when they attend the Star concert on July 15. -- ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE
Music-lovers are raving about it and some are even shouting about it. It is the Straits Times Appreciates Readers (Star) concert at Gardens by the Bay on July 15. Take Diane Chia, 19, who screamed when she heard that the line-up includes her favourite band Boys Like Girls.
Never mind that she was at her desk at work as an IT representative.
She says: 'I could not help it, I was so excited. Thank goodness there were no customers at the time.'
Ms Chia, who will enrol in social sciences at Singapore Management University next month, adds: 'I went to the back and started calling all my friends.'
She has been a fan of American punk-pop band Boys Like Girls since they released their eponymous debut album in 2006.
She began following their blogs, Facebook and Twitter accounts, where she connected with other Singaporean fans.
From there, her fansite, The Martin Sayers, named for the band's lead singer Martin Johnson, was born.
It now has about 20 stalwart fans, many of whom will be at the concert with banners, posters, T-shirts and wristbands which they had custom made.
'I bought my tickets the minute they went on sale,' she says, 'I just could not wait.'
Boys Like Girls are one of the acts which will be performing in the Star concert in celebration of The Straits Times' 167th birthday.
Other acts include K-pop girl group 4Minute, home-grown act Tanya Chua and Singapore Idol winners Hady Mirza and Taufik Batisah.
Tickets are on sale now at $67 a person for Straits Times subscribers and $75 for non-subscribers.
The event kicks off with a fun fair of games and activities such as playing Wii with Singapore Olympians, a cosplay contest and caricature drawing when the concert venue opens at 3pm. Food such as popiah, chicken tikka, tuna sandwiches and macaroni and cheese will be sold inside the venue from 3pm.
When the concert starts at 6.30pm, there is sure to be a mad rush to the stage so concertgoers will want to get to the meadow early to reserve their places.
Boys Like Girls are not the only band with a dedicated bunch of followers. K-pop sensation 4Minute have their fans too, called 4nias.
In fact, the two fan groups have got together to give each other the best views of their acts.
The fans plan to trade places at the front of the crowd when their respective idols take the stage. Notices have been put on both fansites to notify members of the agreement.
One 4Minute fan is Malaysian Soh Kok Keong, 33, who has bought two tickets to come see the group with a friend. They will fly down from Kuala Lumpur on the day of the concert and stay the night before flying back the next day.
It is not the first time he has travelled to see 4Minute. He flew to Bangkok to watch them perform earlier this year.
'I want to watch them live again and hear my favourite songs,' says the IT salesman, who plans to bring a large, decorated poster to the concert.
The concert is also attracting people who are not devotees of just one band but who want to enjoy the overall concert atmosphere and to spend time with their families. 'I have never been to a concert like this, with different acts on one stage,' says teacher Alison Leck Choo Jin, 52. 'I am looking forward to the atmosphere. I expect something vibrant.'
She bought eight tickets and will attend the bash with her extended family members whose ages range from 12 to 81 years old.
Stay-at-home mum Kim Wee Koh, 41, is looking forward to the chance to check out the Gardens by the Bay. 'It has been in the news a lot,' she says. 'With all the activities, concert and carnival going on that day, it sounds like a good time for the family.'
She bought seven tickets and will be going with her husband, two children and their extended family.
While the mum is excited about seeing home-grown talent Chua in concert, her children are looking forward to running around the gardens and seeing the different varieties of flowers.
'I think it will be a great atmosphere with the carnival, different bands and singers. It will be fun,' she says.
Still, amid that carnival atmosphere, die-hard band fans such as Boys Like Girls' Ms Chia cannot wait. She has her heart set on hearing her favourite song, Hero/Heroine, from the band's first album, although she is also looking forward to listening to their new songs from their upcoming album Crazy World, set for release two days after the Star concert.
The fan gushes: 'Even though Hero/Heroine is from 2006, it is still my favourite song. I can't get over it.'
STRAITS TIMES APPRECIATES READERS
Where: The Meadow, Gardens by the Bay, 11 Marina Gardens Drive
When: July 15. Carnival starts at 3pm, concert from 6.30 to 9.30pm
Admission: $67 for The Straits Times readers. Usual price is $75
What you get: Ticketholders will also get free entry and rides at Universal Studios from 7.30 to 11pm on either Aug 18 or 19 at a private party, a free Singapore Flyer ticket, free gifts and Jay Gee Melwani Group discount vouchers
Info: To buy tickets, go to www.starevent.sg, call 6319-2368/2087 or e-mail email@example.com. Tickets can also be bought and collected at Singapore Press Holdings News Centre at 1000 Toa Payoh North from Mondays to Fridays, from 9am to 6pm
Last edited by Loh; 07-06-2012 at 01:34 AM.
07-07-2012, 06:41 AM #6267
Yale-NUS College won't be replica; will be bold effort to create something new: PM Le
By Sharon See | Posted: 06 July 2012
SINGAPORE: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the Yale-NUS College will not be a replica of Yale College in the US, but it'll be a bold effort to create something new and different.
He said it is not without risk, but the government believes this is the right way forward.
Mr Lee was speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony of Yale-NUS, Singapore's first liberal arts college at the National University of Singapore (NUS).
Yale-NUS College will be sited north of the NUS main campus at Kent Ridge, next to its University Town.
The facilities are expected to be completed by August 2015.
Mr Lee said the government is fully committed to the college's success and is glad that Yale has also given strong backing to the project.
He said Yale-NUS presents a new offering in Singapore's higher education landscape, a system which combines the best of east and west.
"That takes the best of US liberal arts education from Yale, New Haven, adds NUS's distinctive global and Asian strengths, and adapts this mix to our different social and cultural contexts, and creates an experience which is more relevant to students from Singapore and from Asia," he shared.
He said this gives high-calibre Singaporean students another option to pursue degrees at home instead of going overseas.
Yale-NUS College president & Professor Pericles Lewis said: We're developing a curriculum that compares Asian and western cultures, so that you can study Confucius and Aristotle and see how the two of them thought about virtue in two very different ways. You can study the modern Irish poet W B Yeats and modern Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore, and learning about the distinctiveness of each of these cultures and see what each of them have to offer."
Mr Lee also gave his assessment of Singapore's education system.
He said it's not perfect as parents and students still stress about tests and key examinations and that tuition has become a minor national obsession.
Despite that, Mr Lee said Singapore isn't doing too badly.
As for the tertiary sector, Mr Lee said Singapore will continue to enlarge it, not by doing more of the same, but by diversifying tertiary landscape.
The Yale-NUS College has recruited nearly 40 faculty members. About five of them are from Yale, while another five are from NUS.
And these faculty members were chosen from 2,300 applications around the world.
When the college reaches steady state in a few years' time, it's expected to have about 100 faculty members.
07-08-2012, 09:33 PM #6268
Reception at the Istana
04:46 AM Jul 09, 2012
President Tony Tan Keng Yam hosted more than 700 personnel from the Ministry of Defence and the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) to a garden reception at the Istana yesterday.
The annual reception is held in recognition of their valuable contributions and commitment to the defence of the country.
Guests present at the reception included Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, Minister of State (Defence and Education) Lawrence Wong and Senior Parliamentary Secretary (Defence and National Development) Mohamad Maliki Osman.
PHOTO COURTESY MINDEF
07-08-2012, 09:40 PM #6269
Save our green lung, say Pasir Ris residents
Ongoing petition to preserve woodland with numerous endangered bird species
by Neo Chai Chin
04:46 AM Jul 09, 2012
SINGAPORE - Some residents of Pasir Ris Heights have started a petition to save a densely forested patch of land in their backyard, which is home to several endangered bird species.
The woodland in question is about the size of two football fields and flanked by Pasir Ris Drive 3, Elias Road and Pasir Ris Heights. Plots of land on either side of it have been sold to property developers Elitist Development and Capital Development in recent months.
It is slated for development and "subject to detailed planning" under the Urban Redevelopment Authority's 2008 Masterplan, but the residents hope to preserve the forested area and engage the authorities in a discussion before concrete plans for it are announced.
Mdm Cherry Fong, 54, who has lived in Pasir Ris Heights for 13 years, said: "Many birdwatchers come here and it's a nesting place for some birds like the (black-naped) oriole."
Mdm Fong is one of six residents - who call themselves the Pasir Ris Greenbelt Committee - leading the petition.
Last year, at the behest of her children to "do something to protect the forest", the housewife made a scrapbook of wildlife spotted in the area and presented it to their Member of Parliament (MP), Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, at his Meet-the-People Session.
The committee will approach the 320 households behind Pasir Ris Beach Park and some blocks of flats along Pasir Ris Drive 3 with the petition in the next fortnight, she said.
According to Mr Rajendran Nair, Vice-Chairman of the Pasir Ris Beach Park Neighbourhood Committee, there are plans for an international school to be built on the woodland, although this is not confirmed.
Acknowledging the ongoing petition, Mr Nair said the members of the Pasir Ris West Citizens' Consultative Committee and Mr Teo would meet with residents to "explain developments to take place in the area".
Out of nine Pasir Ris Heights residents TODAY spoke to, six said they were in favour of preserving the woodland.
Some of them cited views expressed last month by property analysts that the north-eastern part of Singapore is at risk of housing oversupply, and said it would be hard to recreate a wildlife habitat that has taken decades to generate.
"We moved here because of this," said pre-school teacher Shashee Devi, 40, gesturing at the trees and a white-bellied sea eagle's nest from the second floor of her home.
Teacher Yap M S, 54, a resident of 25 years added: "We understand there's a need for development, but (the authorities) need to do a more thorough study."
But Mr Hong Koh Hing, 56, a resident of 16 years, noted that "it also depends on what the land would be used for".
A survey by the Nature Society done last month - at the invitation of Mdm Fong - recorded 33 species of birds in the area, including the endangered Changeable Hawk Eagle and critically endangered Oriental Pied Hornbill.
The Nature Society also noted that the survey was not exhaustive: "More surveys and during the migratory season will definitely yield more species records.
Photo by NEO CHAI CHIN
07-08-2012, 09:51 PM #6270
Engineering success through failure
by James Dyson
Updated 08:20 AM Jul 09, 2012
Singapore's Minister for Education has called for the country to move beyond rote learning and unlock its creative potential. Simultaneously, Britain's review of its curriculum is looking to Singapore for inspiration.
But while Singapore's excelling education system is to be admired, there are lessons to be learnt from Britain too. Because failure in the classroom is not always a bad thing. In fact, Singapore should be actively encouraging it.
Measuring success in education is not easy. British exam results have risen every year for decades. However, universities and businesses complain of poor basic writing and numeracy skills.
The media laments. Teachers grumble. Politicians blame each other. The latest well-meaning attempt to overhaul the education system has included calls for Singapore-style education and a return to rote learning.
In contrast, Singapore is the model student: Second for maths, fourth for science and fifth for reading, according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development international league tables.
But A grades are not always the best indicators. Thomas Edison, one of history's great inventors, believed in Fs - that is, F for Failure.
We make progress by making mistakes. While inventing the bagless vacuum cleaner, I failed 5,126 times. But prototype 5,127 was a success.
Singapore will only unleash its potential through teaching the value of failure. In a world where intellectual property is often far more valuable than the tangible, it is invention that counts.
According to the World Intellectual Property Organisation, Singapore filed 4,000 patents worldwide in 2011 - impressively up more than 30 per cent on 2010.
Compared with the US, which stacked up 415,000, there is plenty of catching up to be done (population sizes excused, of course).
Singapore's Minister for Education, Mr Heng Swee Keat, last month called for an education system that was "less about content knowledge" and "more about how to process information". Promising words.
Learning "rote" is too often distilled down to memorising useless facts or ticking boxes. Processing information is problem solving. And to paraphrase Samuel Beckett, problem solving is to 'Try. Fail. Try again. Fail again. Fail better'.
New ideas are not found by doing the same as everyone else. They are found by learning from your mistakes. If you are told that there is one right way to do something, you are unlikely to go looking for another.
ENCOURAGED TO PERSEVERE
The message in British and Singaporean schools needs to be that embracing failure is a lifelong commitment.
Britain has made strides in recent years. Design and Technology lessons challenge students to apply the theory they learn in science and maths to real problems.
They will not succeed straight away, but they are encouraged to persevere. And when they hold a physical solution in their hands, a passion for invention is ignited.
This is true in business, too.
In our company, we occasionally set our engineers a challenge unbound by the day job (if there is such a thing at Dyson). They have fired rockets, created battery powered go-karts and navigated obstacle courses.
The most sophisticated challenge yet, a ball-based mechatronics challenge, will shortly see teams from our sites in Singapore, Britain and Malaysia go head to head.
Victory is not the point. They will learn and, more importantly, be inspired to create new exciting technology.
Singapore is ready to do the same. Its superb academic scorecard makes the world jealous. Now is the time to make the world envious of its ideas and inventions. And ironically, that begins with learning the importance of failure.
Sir James Dyson is an inventor and the founder of Dyson. He is a frequent commentator on education and innovation issues in the British press.The technology company spends S$2 million a week on R&D at their UK, Singapore and Malaysia facilities.
Singapore classroom. Photo by OOI BOON KEONG
07-08-2012, 10:00 PM #6271
They're ahead of the class
Tan, 19, and Chen, 20, are among the 9,913 studentsgraduating from NUS this year
by Ashley Chia
04:46 AM Jul 09, 2012
SINGAPORE - Douglas Tan was only seven years old when he discovered a knack for solving mathematical problems, tackling sums meant for the upper primary and secondary levels.
He went on to join the Gifted Programme in Rosyth Primary School and, in 2006, enrolled in the National University of Singapore High School of Math and Science (NUSHS). At 15, he was offered a place at the National University of Singapore (NUS) Faculty of Science to study mathematics.
Tomorrow, the 19-year-old will be this year's youngest graduate at NUS, receiving his Mathematics degree with a First Class Honours. This puts him almost six years ahead of those his age.
Douglas, who is currently serving his National Service (NS), said the thought of going to prestigious universities overseas never occurred to him. "I was just happy doing what I was doing - solving math problems," he said.
In every class he took, Douglas was the youngest but it was neither "awkward nor tough to fit in", he said. In fact, his age was a good conversation starter and his classmates, who were typically three to five years older, would take care of him.
Seeing that he could complete his degree before he entered NS, Douglas took on three modules a semester and completed the four-year course in just two and a half years.
The longest he had ever spent on a math problem was 10 hours over a few days. "I'm a perfectionist. When I do a problem, I try to do it with 100 per cent," he noted.
Douglas aspires to be a mathematician and is looking into a Masters degree but he has yet to decide if he wants to do it here or overseas.
Another young outstanding graduate this year is 20-year-old Carmen Chen, who received her degree in Computer Science last Friday with a First Class Honours and was on the dean's list every academic year of the four-year course.
Offered a place at the NUS School of Computing after three and a half years in NUSHS, Carmen was then the youngest undergraduate of the programme at 16.
She was introduced to computer science and concept programming at 11 by her father, a doctor who also challenged her to solve puzzles he created. Her inability to solve them spurred her interest in the subject.
Carmen, who is from Perak in Malaysia, said she decided to study for her degree in Singapore as she wanted to study in a country she felt "comfortable" in. At the same time, she was awarded an ASEAN scholarship to study in the Republic.
Next month, Carmen will begin her doctoral programme in Computer Science with a research assistantship at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
The youngest ever to enrol into the NUS graduate programmes is Abigail Sin, who entered the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music at 14. She graduated in 2010 at age 18 with First Class Honours. She also received the Lee Kuan Yew gold medal.
This week, NUS celebrates the graduation of 9,913 students, its largest cohort in six years.
Tan and Chen are among the nearly 10,000 students graduating from NUS this year. Photo by ERNEST CHUA
07-08-2012, 10:14 PM #6272
S'pore's ambassador to US comes home after 16 years
Updated 08:14 PM Jul 08, 2012
Washington - After a 16-year run, one of Singapore's highest-profile diplomats is preparing to come home.
Ambassador Chan Heng Chee has represented Singapore's interests in the United States since 1996.
She has witnessed three Presidencies, the Al Qaeda attacks on America in September 2001, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the election of Barack Obama, the country's first African-American President.
Ambassador Chan Heng Chee said she never thought she would be in the US for 16 long years.
"No, not at all. When I came in 1996, I did not think I would stay for 16 years. The normal stint for an ambassador - for the Singapore ambassador - to the US is six years, two terms. But it has been 16 years."
When she got here, Bill Clinton was still President.
George W Bush was only Governor of Texas.
Barack Obama had just been elected to the Illinois Senate.
And US-Singaporean relations were still overshadowed by the case of Michael Fay - the teenager sentenced in 1994 by a Singaporean court to four strokes of the cane for acts of vandalism. And, Americans did not like it.
Prof Chan said: "When I came in 1996, we were in a bad spot. The US had not yet turned the page, and Michael Fay was still lingering around on the sides of the stage. But I thought by the time I came, they were going to turn the page but they would turn the page slowly. But what really did it was the Asian Financial Crisis".
She said Asia's financial meltdown allowed Singapore to emerge as a solid, secure partner for the USA.
A partnership that was cemented when Singapore joined the "Coalition of the Willing" in the aftermath of 9/11 and supported President Bush in his global war on terror.
Prof Chan has been in the US for so long, and seen so much that she brings a unique perspective to America's current travails.
Its economic challenges, President Obama's quest for re-election and the political gridlock that now dominates Washington.
In the aftermath of President Obama's election, many US political commentators wondered whether his arrival in the White House presaged the beginning of a post-racial era in the United States - a country that has been bedeviled by civil rights issues.
When asked how she viewed the election of President Barack Obama, she said: "I thought it's too soon and too fast to say it's not a post-racial order. Certainly not. In fact, I thought some of the very strong criticism against the President, that dogged him throughout the last three and half now, coming to the 4th year, perhaps had a bit of a tinge, racist tinge about it. And birther, those who question where he was born, is it in fact a sort of code way of saying something else. So I don't think it is over".
Also not over, the political gridlock that has left "compromise" a dirty word in Washington and raised questions about the nation's governability.
Prof Chan said: "It's Americans, thoughtful Americans that worry about this. I've heard them use this word, the dysfunctionality of the system. That there is far greater interest for each side to bring down the other, and right now they're in the mood. Whoever is in authority, bring them down, whoever is on one side, if he proposes it I will be against it. Now that's a new America that now I see."
Prof Chan will not be in the US to witness the next Presidential election.
She leaves later this month and is heading home to run the Lee Kuan Yew Center for Innovative Cities, part of the new Singapore University of Technology and Design.
"There are many things, but I will miss most of all the conversations I've had here. The tone of the conversations and the quality of the conversations. So at any time you can sit down and have a good discussion on policy. I will miss that," she shared. CHANNEL NEWSASIA
File photo of Prof Chan Heng Chee, Singapore's ambassador to the US.
07-08-2012, 10:24 PM #6273
Over 2,500 people celebrate Inter-Racial Inter-Religious Night
By Monica Kotwani | Posted: 07 July 2012 2232 hrs
Children performing at this year's Inter-Racial Inter-Religious Night.
SINGAPORE: More than 2,500 people from all faiths came together at this year's Inter-Racial Inter-Religious Night.
The event was also Singapore President Tony Tan Keng Yam's first in his capacity as Head of State.
The Harmony Night, now into its ninth year, was held at Marina Bay Sands on Saturday evening, and saw community and religious leaders, foreign ambassadors, diplomats as well as self-help groups gathering in support for racial and religious solidarity.
The night's programme featured song and dance performances from the various community, ethnic and racial groups.
It was organised by the Thye Hwa Kuan Moral Society.
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