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  1. #6665
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    Default Higher proportion admitted into post-secondary institutions

    by Sumita Sreedharan
    04:45 AM Oct 30, 2012



    SINGAPORE - The rate of admission to post-secondary institutions rose among all races over the past decade, according to statistics released by the Education Ministry yesterday.

    Some 94.1 per cent of the Primary 1 cohort made it to a junior college, polytechnic, Institute of Technical Education or other institutes of higher learning last year, compared to 87.6 per cent in 2002. The statistics also showed Malays, Indians and Others improving over the past decade in terms of passes achieved, while the Chinese inched up slightly.

    The rate of students passing three A-level subjects and General Paper rose by 5 percentage points over the past decade to 90.8 per cent last year, but more struggled with Mother Tongue, with some 94 per cent passing the subject last year, down from 97 per cent 10 years ago.

    Ms Low Yen Ling, who sits on the Government Parliamentary Committee for Education, felt it could be due to more families using English as the dominant language at home, as well as the Web, but said that culture can play "a key role in learning a language".

    "We need to nurture a bicultural mindset amongst young Singaporeans - one that embraces the best of the East and West - where the mother tongue is not only an academic subject ... but regarded as a desirable and enjoyable lifelong skill and asset," she added.

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    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default S'pore stem cell transplant programme receives international accreditation

    by Imelda Saad Aziz
    Updated 06:15 PM Oct 30, 2012

    SINGAPORE - A stem cell transplant programme offered in Singapore has received international accreditation.

    The programme, offered by the National University Cancer Institute and the National University Hospital (NUH), is the first in Asia to be recognised.

    The accreditation is offered by the Foundation for the Accreditation of Cellular Therapy (FACT) at the University of Nebraska Medical Centre. It's seen as the gold standard for hospitals and medical institutions offering stem cell transplant.

    In Singapore , both NUH and the National University Cancer Institute had to go through a rigorous screening process. Improvements were made to address areas such as patient safety and laboratory practices.

    The hospitals' stem cell programme addresses adult as well as childhood illnesses. Together, they perform up to 65 of the 180 transplants that are done each year in Singapore.

    Stem cell transplants are done to treat diseases such as leukaemia, lymphoma and thalassaemia.

    Patients come from as far off as Russia, Mongolia and the Middle East.

    The FACT accreditation is reviewed every three years.

    Professor Dario Campana of the Department of Paediatrics at the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, said: "The FACT accreditation demonstrates that the centre meets the highest possible standards and it's capable of doing the most complex of current procedures. In addition to that, it also shows that the setup allows us to implement innovative therapies."

    Professor John Wong, director of the National University Cancer Institute (Singapore) and deputy chief executive of the National University Health System, said: "It assures our patients that the quality of care that they receive when they have stem cell therapy here is of the highest international standards for both safety and quality."

    Stem cell transplant patient Mohd Iswan said the procedure gave him a new lease of life. He was treated for leukaemia, and his stem cell donor was his father.

    "I did my transplant when I was 14 years old, six years ago. Now I'm alive and well, I can do my sports. I can do my rock climbing, I can do my cycling. I'm alive and healthy," he said. CHANNEL NEWSASIA

  3. #6667
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default First S'pore-created PlayStation 3 game to hit stores

    Published on Nov 02, 2012







    The team behind the first Singapore-developed PlayStation 3 game are (standing, from left) Red Hare Studios game designer and art director Ho Qing Xiang, 28; programmer Justin Cheng, 34; programmer Simon Goh, 29; game artist Athena Wu, 29; programmer Desmond Kiu, 28; game artist Narongdej Teo, 23; game artist Vincent Goh, 30; lead programmer Yap Wei Han, 29; (seated, from left) producer Koh Wee Lit, 33; and Nanyang Polytechnic’s School of Interactive and Digital Media director Daniel Tan, 53. -- ST PHOTOS: KEVIN LIM



    http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st...I_3369916e.jpg
    A screen grab of Page Chronica (above). -- ST PHOTOS: KEVIN LIM



    By Lisabel Ting


    In a first for the gaming industry in Singapore, a local start-up has produced a game exclusively for Japanese electronics giant Sony's PlayStation 3 (PS3) console.

    The game, Page Chronica, was developed by Red Hare Studios at Nanyang Polytechnic with the support of Sony Computer Entertainment Asia (SCEA) and the Media Development Authority's (MDA) Games Solution Centre.

    Describing it as a cross between Scrabble and Super Mario Bros, Red Hare Studios game designer and art director Ho Qing Xiang said the action game has players form words out of scrambled letters to progress through levels.

    The game can be played singly or with a friend, and is targeted mainly at children aged 10 to 14, as well as parents who may play it with their school-going children.

  4. #6668
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default First day of work for new Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth

    Acting Minister Lawrence Wong says it will 'nurture stronger communities'



    Published on Nov 02, 2012



    By Matthias Chew



    On the first day of work at the newly-formed Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) on Thursday, one of Acting Minister Lawrence Wong's first tasks was to meet and greet his new staff.

    At its new headquarters in the Old Hill Street Police Station, he spent part of the morning speaking to employees and getting to know them, as the ministry's 200 or so staff began their first official day of operations.

    MCCY will oversee the arts, heritage, sports, youth and community engagement - functions that were taken from the former ministries of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS), and Information, Communications and the Arts (Mica).

    These two have been restructured into the ministries of Social and Family Development (MSF), and Communications and Information (MCI), and had some of their statutory boards given to MCCY.



    Background story


    Agencies under the Ministryof Culture, Community and Youth:

    •The Esplanade
    •Hindu Endowments Board
    •Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura
    •National Arts Council
    •National Art Gallery
    •National Heritage Board
    •National Youth Council
    •People's Association
    •School of the Arts
    •Singapore Sports Council
    •Singapore Sports School

  5. #6669
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Helping her special needs students find their voice


    by Ng Jing Yng
    04:45 AM Nov 02, 2012



    SINGAPORE - For more than a decade, he could only express his thoughts and feelings through picture cards. Unable to write or type, communication for the boy, who has severe cerebral palsy, was limited to a thick stack of cards toted around in a file.

    That drove his Special Education (SPED) teacher, Mdm Lanny Kwok, to embark on a search six years ago for assistive devices that could help him take a leap beyond his abilities.

    With Mdm Kwok's help, participating during classes and initiating conversations with his parents and friends became easier for the boy, now 21, thanks to a software she found - which allowed him to string sentences together by tapping on a "switch" as alphabets rolled across a computer screen. To enhance the communication process, pictures he could click were periodically added to help illustrate a point.

    For her efforts in using technology to enhance non-verbal communication for special needs children, Mdm Kwok, 43, has been recognised as one of three teachers to receive this year's Outstanding SPED Teacher Award from the Ministry of Education and the National Council of Social Service.

    Recalling how her former student began using the software and found himself able to express himself with far more ease and clarity, Mdm Kwok said it was a joyous moment for him and his parents. "The students might be limited by their physical conditions but communication with others, be it blinking of an eye or other ways, it is very important that they at least have this ability to communicate," said the teacher, who teaches at the Spastic Children's Association School.

    Mdm Kwok is also currently the national coach for boccia - a ball-tossing game designed for those with mobile disabilities - and she has set up boccia as a co-curricular activity at the school. Seven students from the school have since represented the Singapore Disability Sports Council's boccia team.

    Another recipient of the Outstanding SPED Teacher Award is Tanglin School's Head of Department for Vocational Education Asmah Abdul Khamid.

    A 20-year veteran in the SPED sector, Mdm Asmah, 57, found her way into working with special needs children after a relief stint - where she witnessed the impact she could make on her students.

    To understand better what skills her students would need to lead independent lives after they graduate, Mdm Asmah would go on unpaid work attachments lasting two to three days each time at places like Han's Cafe and Bakery and Quality Hotel.

    The experience helped her shape a more relevant curriculum for her students, she said.

    A SPED teacher cannot do without perseverance. "Results might not be seen immediately and then I will ask myself: What's wrong? What else can I do? And to always keep trying," Mdm Asmah said.

    The awards, in their sixth year, will be presented today at the annual SPED conference. Other winners include Katong School's Mrs Lynette Yeo for the Outstanding SPED Teacher Award, while AWWA School, Delta Senior School, Grace Orchard School and Pathlight School are recipients of this year's Innovation Award.





    Photo by ERNEST CHUA

  6. #6670
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Tiger relishes his time off

    by Philip Goh
    04:45 AM Nov 02, 2012

    SINGAPORE - He started the week with a head-to-head match with world No 1 Rory McIlroy in Zhengzhou, the exhibition event electrifying the thousands of Chinese golf fans who swarmed the course at Jinsha Lake to lap up his every move.

    But it was a more sedate affair yesterday at the Marina Bay Sands when Tiger Woods conducted a putting clinic for students from the Singapore Sports School's Golf Academy, with fewer than 100 people watching.

    Pausing frequently to wipe the perspiration off his face, his suit a poor choice in Singapore's humidity, Woods was nevertheless the consummate professional, giving personal attention to every one of the 12 students who each had two-minute lessons with him.

    Singapore's under-13 schools champion Amanda Tan was the second to have her putting stroke examined by Woods.

    The 13-year-old, who plays off a +1 handicap and regards driving as the strongest part of her game, said: "After I missed my first putt by just a bit, Tiger told me that my hand had a bit too much lean forward, and that my hands are not coordinating with my putter and other parts of my body. I tried to make adjustments but it didn't really work until the third or fourth putts, and when I managed to sink a couple of them, he said 'great putt'."

    When asked why he chose to miss this week's HSBC Champions in Shanghai, Woods offered no apology.

    "I've played a tonne of golf since the British Open, and this is my first full season since 2005," said the 36-year-old. "That's seven full years without playing a full season. I was tired. Competing and getting ready for another tournament ... I just didn't want to do that.

    "I've got four more rounds at my tournament in Los Angeles, and I'm done till Abu Dhabi next year.

    "So I'm looking forward to this extended break. This is like my off-season now. I'm looking forward to just getting away from it."

    So why then has he chosen to spend his week here instead?

    "Doing these things is easy," he answered candidly. "It's important because we're trying to grow the game of golf, and this is a perfect example to have these kids here.

    "With the inclusion (of golf) in the Olympics, that's going to help as well. A lot of these kids are going to want to get to Augusta through the Asian Amateur Championship, and represent their countries in the Olympics. So coming over here and doing these exhibitions is important." Philip Goh





    Photo by WEE TECK HIAN

  7. #6671
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default New book features 608 people who shaped the region

    Published on Nov 02, 2012



    (From left) Prof Leo Suryadinata, Prof Tommy Koh and Prof Su Guaning at the launch of South-east Asian Personalities Of Chinese Descent, A Biographical Dictionary, at the National Library yesterday. -- ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG



    By Leong Weng Kam, Senior Writer



    A Who's Who list of prominent South-east Asians of Chinese descent has been compiled for the first time, in a book that gives an insight into the lives and achievements of the men and women who have helped to shape the region.

    Titled South-east Asian Personalities Of Chinese Descent, A Biographical Dictionary, the 1,400-page tome features 608 people from 10 countries, all well-known names from the past and present centuries. They include influential personalities from various professions and fields, from statesmen, businessmen and religious leaders to pop stars, artists and athletes.

    Singapore has the most entries - 162 - including prime ministers Lee Kuan Yew, Goh Chok Tong and Lee Hsien Loong; entertainers Dick Lee and Fann Wong; eye surgeon Arthur Lim; entrepreneur Sim Wong Woo; and Olympians Tan Howe Liang and Jing Junhong.

    Next is Indonesia, with names such as businessmen Soedono Salim - better known as Liem Sioe Liong - and banker Mochtar Riady; followed by Malaysia, with notables such as Malayan Communist Party leader Chin Peng, opposition politician Lim Kit Siang and badminton champ Lee Chong Wei.

  8. #6672
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Make sports a national language: Lawrence Wong

    Published on Nov 04, 2012





    Acting Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) Minister Lawrence Wong (in white) gives a cheer during a group photograph with the men from the SAFSA dragon boat team at the Singapore River Regatta, held at the Singapore River, on Nov 4, 2012. --ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN



    By Terrence Voon


    Sports may be missing from the name of the newly-formed Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth, but Acting Minister Lawrence Wong stressed on Sunday that it will still play a key role in the MCCY's mission.

    In fact, getting more Singaporeans to play and watch sports, and to cheer on Team Singapore, is a priority for Mr Wong and his ministry.


    "We are really talking about mindset changes," he said on the sidelines of the Singapore River Regatta on Sunday.

    "How we can promote sports as a way of life, make sports a national language that can inspire, unite and motivate Singaporeans. To do that takes time and we have to understand that it's not an overnight process."



    TODAY

    Ministry aims to instil sports culture

    by Olivia Siong
    04:45 AM Nov 05, 2012

    SINGAPORE -
    Making sports a "national language" of Singapore will be one of the goals of the new Ministry for Culture, Community and Youth, Acting Minister Lawrence Wong said yesterday.

    This means instilling a culture of sports, getting even more people to participate in sporting activities and developing sporting champions.

    "We are talking about mindset changes, how we can promote sports as a way of life, make sports a national language that can inspire, unite and motivate Singaporeans," Mr Wong said.

    Possible issues to look at include the lack of time, a lack of awareness about what activities are happening, and infrastructure improvements.

    "So there are different factors, no single solution … but there are many factors which the Vision 2030 report identified and we'll start working on each one of them," he said.

    Mr Wong, who was speaking to reporters at the Singapore River Regatta - an annual dragon boating competition - added that preparations are on track for the South-east Asian Games in Singapore in 2015.

    The games will be the first to be held in the new S$1.33-billion Sports Hub that will open in April 2014.

    Hopefully, the games will bring back the "Kallang Roar" to the stadium and make it an event people will remember for a long time, he said.





    Last edited by Loh; 11-04-2012 at 10:51 PM.

  9. #6673
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    Default HDB has to 'keep up with aspirations of Singaporeans'

    04:45 AM Nov 05, 2012

    SINGAPORE - While the transformation and changes have been "remarkable", the country's public housing has to keep pace with the rising aspirations of Singaporeans.

    This, former Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew says, will ensure that Singapore's older estates and flats do not fall behind newer ones, in both facilities and design.

    Speaking yesterday at a community event to celebrate the completion of seven new blocks of replacement flats at Havelock View, Mr Lee noted how Tanjong Pagar residents have benefitted from a wide range of estate renewal programmes, even though the constituency is one of the oldest public housing estates in Singapore.

    And these upgrading programmes have improved the overall living environment in Tanjong Pagar, with residents enjoying a better quality of life than before, added Mr Lee.

    The 1,218 units at Havelock View were designated as replacement flats under the Housing Board's Selective En Bloc Redevelopment Scheme for those who previously lived at Blocks 88 to 92 Zion Road, which were built in 1973. Standing between 25 and 40 storeys high, some higher floor units at Havelock View boast views of Orchard Road and the Botanic Gardens.

    A total of 600 units were taken up by former Zion Road residents, while the remaining were offered for sale under HDB's Sale of Balance Flat exercises.

    An HDB survey of 256 households found that residents were generally satisfied with the project. Close to eight in 10 of the respondents (79.3 per cent) were satisfied with the overall flat design, while almost nine in 10 were pleased with the facilities in the precinct.

    While the HDB has made a difference in people's lives, allowing Singaporeans to own a home, Mr Lee cautioned owners against selling their homes for a profit thinking that they can buy or rent another one, as these are assets that will appreciate in value year after year.

    For those who held on to their homes, their property values have gone up by many folds, he said.

    "This was the plan which we had from the very beginning, to give everybody a home at cost or below cost and as development takes place, everybody gets a lift, all boats rise as the tide rises," added Mr Lee.

    Despite yesterday evening's rain, Mr Lee, along with other Members of Parliament of Tanjong Pagar, participated in the annual Tree Planting Day in the group representation constituency - a tradition that first began in 1963.

    Recounting how he was determined to "green up" Singapore, after remembering the tall grey concrete towers and tarmac roads of Hong Kong, Mr Lee said it led to a new department being set up, which is now known as National Parks Board.

    He added, "The job is never ending. The difference between Singapore and other cities is obvious. When you drive through from the airport into town you have a canopy of rain trees spreading their branches across the road. The trees, shrubs and creeping ivy on the walls are also greened up to give that sense of freshness and refreshes the spirit."

    Even as authorities here do more to spruce up the estates, Mr Lee also urged Singaporeans to uphold the value of good neighbourliness. "If neighbours don't cooperate to keep a bond of ownership of the place, it will not succeed," he added.





    Mr Lee Kuan Yew, an MP for Tanjong Pagar GRC, participating in a tree-planting event yesterday. Photo by ERNEST CHUA

  10. #6674
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default EU-Singapore FTA by end-2012

    Updated 09:33 PM Nov 03, 2012

    SINGAPORE - A landmark free trade agreement (FTA) between the European Union (EU) and Singapore is expected to be completed by the end of the year - the first such between the EU and an ASEAN economy.

    The FTA will have a chapter on investments, the first of its kind for any trade deal the EU has inked,
    said the head of the EU delegation in Singapore, Ambassador Marc Ungeheuer.

    Speaking exclusively to Channel NewsAsia ahead of the Asia-Europe Summit in Vientiane, Laos, Mr Ungeheuer said it makes sense to include investments in the FTA, given Singapore's safe investment climate.

    Trade between both sides is healthy. The EU is the largest source of foreign direct investments (FDI) in Singapore. Singapore accounts for 63.5 per cent of FDI from the EU to ASEAN, and it is hoped that the upcoming FTA will facilitate more investment flows.

    Mr Ungeheuer described the deal as a building block for a wider FTA between ASEAN and the EU.

    Talks are already underway with Malaysia and Vietnam while negotiations with Thailand and Indonesia are expected to start next year.

    Mr Ungeheuer said: "We hope, of course, that the 2015 ASEAN Economic Community will bring about a more coordinated and economically integrated ASEAN. Once ASEAN has further integrated and we already have the building blocks of the bilateral free trade agreements, the EU will be ready to negotiate a bi-regional free trade agreement."

    CHANNEL NEWSASIA






    AP

  11. #6675
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default PM's Letter to retiring Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong

    Updated 12:46 PM Nov 06, 2012

    Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has written the following letter to retiring Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong:



    Dear Chief Justice Chan,

    As you complete your tenure as the third Chief Justice of Singapore, I write to thank you for your outstanding service to Singapore over the last 26 years.

    In 1986, the Government persuaded you, after several attempts, to leave a highly successful commercial practice and enter public service as Singapore's first Judicial Commissioner. Two years later, you became a Judge of the Supreme Court and, in 1992, Attorney-General, a position you held for 14 years.

    You served as Public Prosecutor with distinction, always acting in accordance with the highest standards of professionalism and integrity. This was especially critical in the cases of Flor Contemplacion and Michael Fay, which put Singapore under the international spotlight and significant pressure. The manner in which your office prosecuted these cases unequivocally demonstrated the objectivity, fairness and integrity of our legal system.

    As Attorney-General, you also provided wise counsel on many complex legal issues. On your advice, the Government passed legislation in 1993 to discontinue the automatic reception of English law, thus finally cutting our legal system's colonial links to England. You headed three major policy reviews to ensure that we trained sufficient lawyers while avoiding an excess supply. You chaired the Legal Services Review Committee, which in 1999 recommended creating the Joint Law Venture and the Formal Law Alliance vehicles to attract offshore law practices to Singapore. These measures have significantly contributed to Singapore's economy, especially our international services hub

    You strengthened the Attorney-General's Chambers by establishing the International Affairs Division and the Law Reform and Law Revision Division, and personally led efforts to build up a corps of professional and dedicated lawyers, imbued with the right values, in the Chambers.

    Your appointment as Chief Justice in 2006 was received with widespread approbation, reflecting the high regard of the legal fraternity for your abilities and leadership.

    As Chief Justice, you presided over the administration of justice with rectitude and dignity. You set up the Sentencing and Bail Review Panel to develop internal judicial guidelines on sentencing and bail. These guidelines ensured that our courts handed down sentences that were consistent and proportionate, and met society's expectations of what constituted just punishment.

    You maintained the high standards of court efficiency attained by your predecessor, simplifying interlocutory procedures and installing the Integrated Electronic Litigation System. Yet you never allowed efficient court adminis-tration to compromise a fair and just decision in each case. Lawyers consider you a supremely knowledgeable judge who never denied anyone a fair hearing.

    You constantly encouraged the legal profession to do more for the less fortunate. Under your guidance, the Subordinate Courts set up the HELP Centre, which guides litigants through the court process and improves their access to justice, for which the Courts won the United Nations Public Service Award.

    Your decisions have enriched the corpus of Singapore jurisprudence. Your public law judgments constantly reaffirm the courts' constitutional function to ensure that the legislature and executive act within the law. Your writings and speeches reflect your steadfast commitment to upholding the law without fear or favour.

    As the ex-officio Chairman of the Legal Service Commission, you oversaw an expansion of the Legal Service from 290 officers in 2006 to almost 500 today. The Legal Service's human resources framework was reviewed and revitalised to build a more vibrant and robust Service.

    Your tenure as Chief Justice has raised the standing of our legal system at home and abroad, and attracted many foreign delegations to study our courts. Your contributions have been widely recognised, including by the

    National University of Singapore which conferred upon you an honorary Doctor of Laws, and Lincoln's Inn which elected you an honorary bencher.

    Under your able leadership, the International Court of Justice affirmed our sovereign rights to Pedra Branca. For this signal service to Singapore, you were conferred the Order of Temasek (Second Class).

    You also served on the Presidential Council of Minority Rights for 20 years, six of them as Chairman. At Council meetings, you conscientiously studied the provisions and context of each piece of legislation which came up for scrutiny, to satisfy yourself that they did not discriminate against any racial or religious group. In so doing, you operated an important constitutional safeguard that assured our minority communities of their place and rights in Singapore.

    Singapore is grateful for your outstanding contributions. You have strengthened the foundations of our legal system, and will continue to inspire many in the future. I thank you for your many years of dedicated service to Singapore.

    Yours sincerely,

    Lee Hsien Loong







    CJ Chan and his wife saying goodbye to Supreme Court staff yesterday. Photo by DON WONG

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    Default Pre-schools to have common Mother Tongue framework

    MOE acts to address concerns of parents over disparity in standards, teaching methods

    by Sumita Sreedharan
    04:45 AM Nov 06, 2012



    SINGAPORE - Addressing long-standing concerns among parents over the disparity in standards and teaching methods of Mother Tongue in pre-schools, the Ministry of Education (MOE) will come up with a common curriculum framework for the teaching of Chinese, Malay and Tamil in kindergartens, this newspaper has learned.

    According to the MOE, the framework will be developed "in consultation with different stakeholders, such as pre-school principals and teachers, teacher trainers and academics". It will include "broadbased vision, goals, principles and outcomes" for the learning of the three Mother Tongue languages.

    Last month, the MOE put up a tender on Government procurement portal GeBIZ for a Mother Tongue language curriculum consultant for its pre-school education branch.

    According to the tender documents, the job scope is to provide "consultancy services for the common pre-school Mother Tongue language teaching and learning framework, and ensure coherence and relevance in the framework for children aged four to six years".

    The consultant's services will be engaged until February, and it is required to provide, among other things, a "critique and written advice on about three drafts" of the framework.

    Responding to TODAY's queries on the tender, an MOE spokesperson revealed the plan to roll out the common curriculum framework.

    The teaching and learning of Mother Tongue languages in pre-schools currently "take place within the larger context of a pre-school curriculum which is guided by the MOE Kindergarten Curriculum Framework", the MOE spokesperson said.

    The ministry has also developed pre-school teaching guidelines for each Mother Tongue language.

    Apart from focusing on developing children's interest in their Mother Tongue language and their oral and aural skills, the current guidelines also provide "the goals and principles of pre-school Mother Tongue language teaching and learning, and suggestions on teaching strategies".

    The ministry had said previously that it is reviewing the guidelines .

    Welcoming the curriculum framework, Mountbatten Member of Parliament Lim Biow Chuan, who chairs the Government Parliamentary Committee for Education, noted the concerns of parents.

    "(They) have complained that they are surprised that their child is so far off from their classmates just because they are from a different pre-school," he said. "Having a common curriculum will make sure that everyone knows the same things."

    Chua Chu Kang Group Representation Constituency MP Low Yen Ling, who also sits on the committee, pointed out that "the period of two to six years old is a golden age for learning languages". She proposed that the common curriculum framework provide "suggested levels of competency, as well as areas of focus, such as speaking or listening, or recommended curriculum content".

    She added: "It could also offer a platform for curriculum to be localised and embedded with values relevant to our culture." Nevertheless, she is against being "too prescriptive with a framework", given that languages "can be taught and absorbed differently". Said Ms Low: "The framework should allow for creative and different ways of teaching, as well as improvisation to meet the varying needs of learners from different environments."

    Mr Derrick Lim, 42, who has a child in kindergarten, said a common curriculum for Mother Tongue languages will reassure parents "that our children will all be at the same starting point when they enter Primary school".

    Apart from easing the transition to Primary 1, pre-school operators said the move will raise standards and result in less disruptions for pupils who move from one kindergarten to another.

    Currently, the teaching method and curriculum varies from operator to operator. For example, at Learning Vision, preschoolers learn about the language mainly through the inquiry-based and problem-based approaches. At Pat's Schoolhouse, Mandarin lessons are conducted through, among other things, stories, songs, games and dance.

    A PAP Community Foundation spokesperson noted: "A common curriculum need not necessarily mean that every child learns at the same pace … The teacher can still exercise professional judgment in the way the lessons are conducted and in the use of appropriate approaches."

    Pat's Schoolhouse Curriculum Manager Sally Pang reiterated that a key outcome for young children should be to "motivate them to explore and cultivate the interest" in the Mother Tongue languages.

    Currently, there are about 500 kindergartens which are run by the private sector. Among these, almost all teach Chinese while about 300 of them offer either Malay or Tamil lessons.


    Pre-schools to have common Mother Tongue framework
    MOE acts to address concerns of parents over disparity in standards, teaching methods

    by Sumita Sreedharan
    04:45 AM Nov 06, 2012



    SINGAPORE - Addressing long-standing concerns among parents over the disparity in standards and teaching methods of Mother Tongue in pre-schools, the Ministry of Education (MOE) will come up with a common curriculum framework for the teaching of Chinese, Malay and Tamil in kindergartens, this newspaper has learned.

    According to the MOE, the framework will be developed "in consultation with different stakeholders, such as pre-school principals and teachers, teacher trainers and academics". It will include "broadbased vision, goals, principles and outcomes" for the learning of the three Mother Tongue languages.

    Last month, the MOE put up a tender on Government procurement portal GeBIZ for a Mother Tongue language curriculum consultant for its pre-school education branch.

    According to the tender documents, the job scope is to provide "consultancy services for the common pre-school Mother Tongue language teaching and learning framework, and ensure coherence and relevance in the framework for children aged four to six years".

    The consultant's services will be engaged until February, and it is required to provide, among other things, a "critique and written advice on about three drafts" of the framework.

    Responding to TODAY's queries on the tender, an MOE spokesperson revealed the plan to roll out the common curriculum framework.

    The teaching and learning of Mother Tongue languages in pre-schools currently "take place within the larger context of a pre-school curriculum which is guided by the MOE Kindergarten Curriculum Framework", the MOE spokesperson said.

    The ministry has also developed pre-school teaching guidelines for each Mother Tongue language.

    Apart from focusing on developing children's interest in their Mother Tongue language and their oral and aural skills, the current guidelines also provide "the goals and principles of pre-school Mother Tongue language teaching and learning, and suggestions on teaching strategies".

    The ministry had said previously that it is reviewing the guidelines .

    Welcoming the curriculum framework, Mountbatten Member of Parliament Lim Biow Chuan, who chairs the Government Parliamentary Committee for Education, noted the concerns of parents.

    "(They) have complained that they are surprised that their child is so far off from their classmates just because they are from a different pre-school," he said. "Having a common curriculum will make sure that everyone knows the same things."

    Chua Chu Kang Group Representation Constituency MP Low Yen Ling, who also sits on the committee, pointed out that "the period of two to six years old is a golden age for learning languages". She proposed that the common curriculum framework provide "suggested levels of competency, as well as areas of focus, such as speaking or listening, or recommended curriculum content".

    She added: "It could also offer a platform for curriculum to be localised and embedded with values relevant to our culture." Nevertheless, she is against being "too prescriptive with a framework", given that languages "can be taught and absorbed differently". Said Ms Low: "The framework should allow for creative and different ways of teaching, as well as improvisation to meet the varying needs of learners from different environments."

    Mr Derrick Lim, 42, who has a child in kindergarten, said a common curriculum for Mother Tongue languages will reassure parents "that our children will all be at the same starting point when they enter Primary school".

    Apart from easing the transition to Primary 1, pre-school operators said the move will raise standards and result in less disruptions for pupils who move from one kindergarten to another.

    Currently, the teaching method and curriculum varies from operator to operator. For example, at Learning Vision, preschoolers learn about the language mainly through the inquiry-based and problem-based approaches. At Pat's Schoolhouse, Mandarin lessons are conducted through, among other things, stories, songs, games and dance.

    A PAP Community Foundation spokesperson noted: "A common curriculum need not necessarily mean that every child learns at the same pace … The teacher can still exercise professional judgment in the way the lessons are conducted and in the use of appropriate approaches."

    Pat's Schoolhouse Curriculum Manager Sally Pang reiterated that a key outcome for young children should be to "motivate them to explore and cultivate the interest" in the Mother Tongue languages.

    Currently, there are about 500 kindergartens which are run by the private sector. Among these, almost all teach Chinese while about 300 of them offer either Malay or Tamil lessons.




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    Default PM Lee, Shanmugam congratulate US President Obama on re-election win

    By S. Ramesh/Alice Chia | Posted: 07 November 2012 1811 hrs




    SINGAPORE: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has joined world leaders in congratulating US President Barack Obama on his re-election victory.

    Mr Lee said the victory affirms the American people's trust in Mr Obama's leadership, and thanked Mr Obama for his country's strong commitment to the US-Singapore relationship and the entire Asia-Pacific region during his first term.

    He said Singapore and the US enjoy excellent relations, underpinned by the Strategic Framework Agreement and US-Singapore Free Trade Agreement.

    He also added that ties have been enhanced over the last four years through the Strategic Partnership Dialogue.

    Mr Lee said that he also welcomes the Obama Administration's broad-based rebalancing towards Asia, including Southeast Asia and ASEAN and hoped for it to continue during his second term.

    He acknowledged the US' presence as a pillar of regional stability and economic prosperity and looked forward to working with the Obama Administration to enhance bilateral relations and strengthen America's engagement with Asia, including through the Third Country Training Programme.

    He ended by saying that the US can continue to rely on Singapore as a friend and partner.

    Mr Lee had earlier congratulated Mr Obama and Vice President Joe Biden on his Facebook page.

    Separately, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Law K. Shanmugam also congratulated Mr Obama and Mr Biden on their re-election victories.

    "We are confident that under their strong leadership, America will overcome the issues it is facing, rebound strongly and contribute to progress everywhere," he said at the sidelines of the Eminent Business Alumni Awards ceremony on Wednesday.

    "Our relationship with the US, of course, is very strong… and we hope to continue to work with the administration in the way we have done in the past, for our mutual benefit and the benefit of the region," he added.

    - CNA/de/jc


    File photo of US President Barack Obama and First lady Michelle Obama with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the APEC summit dinner on November 12, 2011 in Hawaii. (AFP/Getty Images/Kevork Djansezian)
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    Default Sundaresh Menon sworn in as new Chief Justice

    Published on Nov 07, 2012



    President Tony Tan Keng Yam (center) is presiding at the Swearing-in Ceremony of Chief Justice, Mr Sundaresh Menon, (right) on Nov 7, 2012. Mr Menon will also be sworn in and appointed as Chairman of the Presidential Council for Minority Rights. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is standing far left. -- ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM




    Mr Sundaresh Menon, 50, was sworn in as Singapore's new Chief Justice on Wednesday.

    He succeeded CJ Chan Sek Keong, 75, who retired on Tuesday after six years in the job.
    CJ Menon has also been appointed chairman of the Presidential Council for Minority Rights, a position previously held by CJ Chan.

    He was sworn in for both appointments at the Istana on Wednesday

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    Default $5.5m extension for Asian Civilisation Museum

    Published on Nov 09, 2012




    An artist's impression of the Asian Civilisations Museum's new extension. The titanium-clad wing, slated to house three new galleries, will open in 2015.




    By Corrie Tan


    Visitors to the Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM) will be able to see more of the national collection, as well as new Fujian artefacts, when the museum's new extension opens in 2015.

    This titanium-clad new wing, which will cost about $5.5 million to build, will house three new galleries at the museum's Empress Place premises.

    While the exact contents of the galleries have not yet been decided, Dr Alan Chong, director of the museum, said at the groundbreaking ceremony yesterday: "We're very keen to show how China relates to the rest of the world through trade, through migration, through immigration and exchange.

    "Fujian, especially, was the homeland of so many immigrants to South-east Asia, not just Singapore but also... countries which are now Malaysia and Indonesia. This is a very rich and complicated story."

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    Default Marina Bay CBD is Singapore's new downtown

    Published on Nov 10, 2012





    The CBD and the Marina Financial District as seen from the Marina Bay Sands Skypark at dusk. The CBD has transformed into an area where people can live, work and play. -- ST PHOTO: MALCOLM MCLEO




    http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st...les/MBSS2e.jpg
    The CBD has transformed into an area where people can live, work and play. -- ST PHOTO: RAJ NADARAJAN



    http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st...les/MBSS3e.jpg
    The CBD has transformed into an area where people can live, work and play. -- ST PHOTO: RAJ NADARAJAN



    http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st...les/MBSS4e.jpg
    People walking above Raffles Place MRT station. The CBD has transformed into an area where people can live, work and play. -- ST PHOTO: RAJ NADARAJAN




    http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st...les/MBSS6e.jpg
    Lunchtime crowd at Lau Pa Sat Food food centre. The CBD has transformed into an area where people can live, work and play. -- ST PHOTO: RAJ NADARAJAN



    http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st...les/MBSS7e.jpg
    People having drinks at Level 33 at Marina Bay Financial Centre Tower 1. The CBD has transformed into an area where people can live, work and play. -- ST PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA



    http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st...les/MBSS8e.jpg
    Staff at The Exchange @ DBS Asia Central, located on the 13th floor of tower 3 with views unobstructed views of the Marina Bay area. The space can be used for discussions or to enjoy refreshments. There is also a flexible area where staff can engage in recreational activities such as yoga or dance classes and a dedicated space for social enterprise has also been set aside. -- ST PHOTO: RAJ NADARAJAN



    http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st...les/MBSS9e.jpg
    Office workers buying coffee at Change Alley during the lunch hour. The CBD has transformed into an area where people can live, work and play. -- ST PHOTO: RAJ NADARAJAN



    http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st...es/MBSS10e.jpg
    Office workers having lunch at a food court's outdoor seating area at the Golden Shoe carpark. The CBD has transformed into an area where people can live, work and play. -- ST PHOTO: RAJ NADARAJAN



    http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st...es/MBSS11e.jpg
    People having drinks at Level 33 at Marina Bay Financial Centre Tower 1. The CBD has transformed into an area where people can live, work and play. -- ST PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA



    http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st...es/MBSS12e.jpg
    People having drinks at Level 33 at Marina Bay Financial Centre Tower 1. The CBD has transformed into an area where people can live, work and play. -- ST PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA





    http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st...es/MBSS15e.jpg
    The Singapore Central Business District (CBD) and Marina Bay area. The CBD has transformed into an area where people can live, work and play.. -- ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN



    http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st...es/MBSS16e.jpg
    About 12,000 people took part in the Adidas King of the Road race on Oct 28, 2012. Starting off at Gardens by the Bay, the 16km route brought runners through iconic sights such as the Singapore Flyer and the Marina Bay Financial Centre. The CBD has transformed into an area where people can live, work and play. -- ST PHOTO: TED CHEN



    http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st...es/MBSS18e.jpg
    People walk around the CBD. The area has transformed into an place where people can live, work and play. -- ST PHOTO: RAJ NADARAJAN



    http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st...es/MBSS17e.jpg
    Office workers hurrying along an underground linkway during rush hour, the linkway connects buildings to Raffles Place MRT station. The CBD has transformed into an area where people can live, work and play. -- ST PHOTO: RAJ NADARAJAN



    For years the Central Business District was simply a place where people went to work. Tens of thousands poured into the area every morning and left it empty every evening. At nights and on weekends, the CBD was virtually a ghost town.

    But all that has changed. The CBD has greatly expanded, not only in size but also in terms of the amenities it offers. It is now a place where people live, work and play.

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    Default Tao Li swims to second World Cup silver in 50m butterfly

    Published on Nov 11, 2012





    Tao Li (left) finished second in the 100m butterfly with a time of 58.33 seconds. She picked up her second silver medal on Sunday in the 50m butterfly. -- ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE



    By Terrence Voon


    Singapore swimmer Tao Li grabbed her second silver medal at the Fina World Cup here on Sunday, finishing behind Jeanette Gray Ottesen in the women's 50m butterfly.

    Tao clocked 25.78sec in the short course event at the Singapore Sports School, while her Danish rival took gold in 25.42sec.

    Inge Dekker of the Netherlands (25.92sec) was third.

    In the mixed 4x50m freestyle relay, Singapore took the bronze medal in 1min 35.55sec.

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