SINGAPORE — Singapore will undergo key shifts in policy across various aspects of society following a 16-month long feedback exercise that canvassed the views of over 200,000 Singaporeans and stakeholders.
The Forward Singapore (Forward SG) report was unveiled on Friday (Oct 27) by Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong, who described the exercise as a road map for Singapore’s future headed by the nation’s fourth-generation leaders.
Spanning around 180 pages, the report said that the nation is moving towards a new policy direction that works best with the society in mind, and looks at helping Singaporeans fulfil a more inclusive “Singapore Dream”.
“In the past, Singaporeans talked about chasing the five ‘C’s — condo, car, cash, credit card, country club. Nowadays we no longer focus on the five ‘C’s.
“But as a society, we continue to measure ourselves and others on the same old yardsticks — the size of our pay cheques or the property we own,” the report said.
“We seek a more inclusive Singapore Dream — one where we value every individual, support them in their diverse aspirations and pathways, and celebrate their achievements and successes together.”
Various policies and recommendations in the following areas of education, jobs, families, support for seniors and vulnerable groups, sustainability and the collective strength of society, will be announced in detail in the coming months and at Budget 2024.
The recommendations stemmed from 275 partnerships and engagement sessions — both in person and virtually — and in various formats, including role playing sessions, and were conducted in different languages.
Singaporeans also contributed their ideas via surveys, roadshows and digital platforms.
WHY THIS MATTERS
In June last year, Mr Wong said that the country was at a “crossroads” in light of rising geopolitical tensions in the international sphere and social concerns domestically, including a rapidly ageing population and concerns of slowing social mobility.
As such, Mr Wong, who will likely be Singapore’s next Prime Minister, announced that the nation’s fourth-generation leaders would embark on the Forward SG exercise to build a road map for the future and to refresh Singapore’s social compact — which he defined as the “glue that holds society together”.
One element of this social compact is Singaporeans’ shared values and aspirations, the Forward SG report said, which includes the idea of the “Singapore Dream”.
“From our engagements, it was clear that the idea of the Singapore Dream is not limited to material success. In particular, there have been discernible shifts in our youths’ mindset.
“When young people today talk about careers and jobs, they often express a desire for meaning and purpose in what they do, not just for good salaries. In other words, we want to embrace wider definitions of success,” it said.
The rest of the report outlined seven key shifts that would “ensure that the broad middle of society and their children see improvements in their lives” and that “society’s most vulnerable” would continue to be cared for.
It added that to achieve this, all members of society — people, community and businesses — will have to do their part.
TODAY looks at the new road map in detail:
1. LEARNING BEYOND GRADES
The focus for students should be about the development of life skills, the quality of children’s relationships and level of engagement in schools. Learning should also continue after one’s formal education concludes, said the report.
Streaming will be abolished and full subject-based banding will be implemented to cater to students’ diverse learning needs, interests and abilitiesAdaptive learning technologies like Artificial Intelligence and deep analytics technologies may be used to further tailor curriculum to individual needsMore support will be given to special needs students in mainstream, special education schools and institutes of higher learningThe SkillsFuture programme will be boosted to help mature mid-career Singaporeans reskill and upskill — including a “substantial” SkillsFuture credit top-up, training allowance for mature workers to take on full-time long-form training and support for Singaporeans to obtain another publicly funded diploma
Caregivers should play a part in building children’s life skills and nurture a sense of curiosity. Industry players are encouraged to work with schools to co-design, co-develop and co-deliver education modules for both students and adult learnersEmployers should also commit to looking beyond qualifications in hiring and do more to create a supportive environment for their employees to upgrade themselves
5. EMPOWER VULNERABLE INDIVIDUALS
Lower-income families will get help to make sustained progress, with an additional focus on closing early developmental gaps for children from these families. The aim is also to make society more inclusive for persons with disabilities.
Work with community partners to provide additional support to empower these families to sustain progress in improving their life circumstancesFewer children from lower-income families, particularly those aged three to four, are enrolled in and attend preschool regularly. The Government will make preschool education more affordable and accessible in order to reduce the risk of their development lagging upon their enrolment in primary schoolStrengthen support for persons with disabilities’ lifelong learning and create more inclusive environments where they can participate and live independently
Businesses and communities can contribute financial resources, volunteer their time, or offer other support in-kind to help lower-income familiesSingaporeans should also play their part in building a fairer and more inclusive society for disabled persons
6. INVEST IN THE FUTURE
Optimising Singapore’s limited land and securing a climate-resilient future.
Investments in infrastructure will be made to meet future water demand amid the effects of climate changeFood import sources will be diversified and local production in the agri-food industry will be scaled up
Singaporeans can do their part to adopt more environmentally sustainable practices, like actively conserving water and supporting the local agri-food industry by purchasing more local produce
7. SINGAPOREANS DOING THEIR PART AS ONE UNITED PEOPLE
Nurture a stronger culture of giving and strengthen the country’s multiracialism and national identity.
Better connect donors and volunteers to local community needsMore interactions between different groups of Singaporeans will be encouragedMore avenues for civic participation will be created and more ground-up efforts to shape and improve communities will be supportedThe Singapore Government Partnerships Office will be established to facilitate interactions between contributing citizens and relevant government agencies
Businesses can continually invest in their employees and staff, and provide a work environment that enables them to thriveSingaporeans can take conscious and deliberate steps towards appreciating, understanding and valuing other cultures and traditions, while communities can do their part to promote interactions between different groups of Singaporeans
The Forward SG workgroup added that the Government’s commitment to engage citizens on its policies and programmes will continue beyond the publication of the report.
The public can learn more about the Forward SG initiatives and contribute their own ideas at the Forward Singapore Festival — the first of which will be held at Gardens by the Bay from Oct 27 to 29.
Thereafter, it will make its way to various locations till Jan 28 next year.