Budget 2021: Preparing for Future Economy

Mr Chairman, the Budget Statement described extensive plans for an innovation-driven economy. To thrive in an innovation-driven economy requires more than the acquisition of technical skills and scientific or professional knowledge, but also a mindset that is ready and able to challenge established norms or widely accepted thinking, not afraid to fail and ever ready to try again, and an eagerness to navigate the unknown.

Can the Minister share with us what are the plans to prepare our students for an innovation-driven economy?


Over the years, efforts have been made to move away from a grade-centric education system. This is reflected in the “Desired Outcomes” section under MOE’s budget. However, this is not totally reflected in the key performance indicators (KPIs) that are measured.  

Firstly, a number of the desired outcomes are not measured in its KPI. For example, there are no measurable indicators for adaptability, ability to work in teams and across cultures, critical thinking, and so on. Will the Ministry be looking into additional KPIs to measure these desired outcomes?

Secondly, with reference to the KPI relating to engaged citizenry, is such community work compulsory for students? If so, it would not be a true indicator of engagement. Measuring the engagement rate of grown citizens would be a more accurate indicator.

Finally, whilst this is not included in the desired outcomes, would the Minister consider additional KPIs to measure equity outcomes, for example, the percentage of students from the bottom quintile that are top performers?

Students Outside Mainstream Schools

Here, I declare my interest as an operator of a private school. During the course of my work, I came across students who dropped out of Secondary schools but, after working for a few years, decided that they needed to go back to school. Aiming to enrol in a Polytechnic, they set out to take the “O” Levels in private schools. However, private education does not come cheap. It is sad to see some give up because they cannot afford it.

Homeschooled students also do not get access to core curricular activities (CCAs). Taiwan’s schools embrace homeschooling and schooling kids learning together. Countries like Israel have a second-chance programme to help students complete their Secondary and diploma education. As long as our young have the desire to learn, let us give them the necessary support. 

I therefore have two questions. Will the Minister consider granting financial support for those studying outside of mainstream schools? Will the Minister allow these students to be attached to mainstream schools for CCAs?