INTERNET FOR EDUCATION: SINGAPORE’S EXPERIENCE
Yap Kwang Tan
Director, Educational Technology Division
Ministry of Education
1 Singapore is a small independent republic with 361 schools, a student
enrolment of 489,900 and a teaching force of 22000 teachers. The breakdown,
according to type of schools, is as follows:
Source: Education Statistics Digest 1997
||No. of schools
2 The Internet was first made available to schools in Singapore in 1994,
with 10 computers in each school having access. The Ministry of Education
published its first webpage in April 94
3 Initially, access to the Internet was confined to teachers as it was
important for teachers to be familiar with it first. Subsequently, schools
were provided with a number of email accounts for pupils to use in collaborative
projects. Today, all teachers in Singapore have access to the Internet,
both at school as well as from home. A few schools have provided email
accounts to all students through Internet Service Providers.
4 Under the Masterplan for Information Technology (IT) in Education
launched in 1997, access to the Internet will be greatly expanded, as local
area networks (LANs) will be installed in all schools. All pupils from
grade 4 upwards will have email accounts. By the end of year 2000, all
schools in Singapore will have LANs and a computer to pupil ratio of 1:6.6
for primary schools and 1:5 for secondary schools and pre-university institutions.
The long term target is to achieve a ratio of one computer to every 2 pupils
by year 2002. For teachers, the Ministry of Education provides 1 notebook
computer to every 2 teachers.
USE OF INTERNET IN SINGAPORE SCHOOLS
5 The Internet is used for 3 main purposes in Singapore schools:
- (a) communication
(b) access to information
(c) collaborative projects
- One of the major goals of the Masterplan for IT in education is to
enhance linkages between schools and the world around it. This can be achieved
through the use of the World Wide Web and email. Many schools in Singapore
already have their own website to provide information about the school
to parents and the community. The Ministry of Education also uses the Internet
to communicate information to schools, as well as providing a platform
for teachers to share ideas. Information and services for the public are
also made available on the Internet (http://www.moe.edu.sg).
7 Access to Information
- Pupils and teachers use the Internet to access a wide range of information.
This is used for teaching and learning as well as in project work. For
example, pupils who are studying the environment will source for information
from the Internet. For teachers, the Internet is a good source of ideas
for lesson activities as well as primary sources of data. Lesson activities
are designed to develop information literacy skills among pupils.
8 Collaborative Projects
- With email and the Internet, the scope for collaborative projects between
pupils in different schools and different countries has increased significantly.
Collaborative projects via the Internet widen the scope of learning for
pupils. Pupils could explore different topics of interest with pupils from
all over the world. They learn to share and exchange their ideas and, in
the process, learn communication skills and how to work cooperatively.
Projects involving pupils in different countries also allow them to learn
about other cultures and to see themselves as part of the world community.
In the last 2 years, pupils in Singapore have participated in numerous
collaborative projects with their counterparts in other countries. Some
of the initiatives include:
(a) Singapore-United Kingdom Collaborative Project
- This project started off in 1997 in which pupils in 2 schools in Singapore
collaborated with pupils in 2 schools in the United Kingdom in a project
involving a British aircraft carrier which was sailing from England to
Hong Kong. In this project, pupils were able to email one another and with
the crew of the aircraft carrier on a range of topics, including technology
on the aircraft carrier and the role of women in the navy. When the aircraft
carrier stopped in Singapore, pupils went aboard the ship and shared their
findings with the crew. This project now involves 33 schools in Singapore
collaborating with 33 schools in the United Kingdom in a variety of projects.
(b) Project Everest
- In conjunction with Singapore's first expedition to Mount Everest,
the Ministry of Education organised a project to encourage pupils conduct
inter-disciplinary studies, ranging from challenges of climbing mountains
to the geology of Mount Everest. Forty-two Singapore schools and 2 schools
in England participated in this project. Pupils were able to email members
of the expedition and asked them questions related to their climb.
- Thinkquest is an initiative to encourage collaboration among pupils
in different countries to produce educational resources on the Internet.
This year, about 300 pupils from Singapore are participating in this project.
(d) Konet World Global Environmental Projects
- Sponsored by NTT and supported by the Ministry of Education of Japan,
Konet World (kodomo network), this project involves the study of
level of nitrogen oxide in the air around schools. Pupils in Singapore
and other parts of the world were provided with simple kits to measure
the level of nitrogen oxide. The results were emailed to Japan and the
data plotted on a map of Singapore to show the nitrogen oxide levels in
different parts of the island.
(e) SEAMEO IT Project
- Singapore, along with other Southeast Asian countries, belongs to the
Southeast Asia Ministers of Education Organisation (SEAMEO). The SEAMEO
IT project involves pupils in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Brunei and
the Philippines exchanging information on transportation issues and publishing
the findings on a webpage.
- ScienceAlive is a project that allows pupils from different schools
to work together on virtual science exhibits. Pupils hold virtual meetings
and have on-line discussions with experts. In 1997, pupils built a Virtual
Science Theme Park. This year, the project has been expanded to include
pupils from Japan.
9 As more and more schools go online, the use of the Internet will expand
significantly. Some of the possible directions include:
- use of Internet to deliver lessons
- the creation of virtual learning communities
- on-line courses for teachers
Singapore looks forward to collaborating with schools in other countries
in the use of Internet for education.