Left: Muhammad Haikal Bin Muhammad Ridwan Yeo currently works as a Planning Officer in the Planning Division of MOE HQ. The Education Merit Scholar analyses policy issues in the general education space, from primary and secondary schools to junior colleges. He has a Bachelor of Science (Hons) from University of Warwick and a Master of Science in Mathematics and Foundations of Computer Science from University of Oxford.
Right: Ngiam Wei Ling, Melissa is a Teacher at Westwood Primary School and a MOE Teaching Scholar (Local). She has a Bachelor of Science (Education) (Hons) from Nanyang Technological University Teaching Scholars Programme.
It all begins with a teacher – the person who brings joy into the classroom, who expands our children's worldview, and who empowers and guides the next generation on a journey of lifelong learning. While teachers are the constant heart of our education system, the Ministry of Education (MOE) devotes itself to holistic enhancements that prepare today's curriculum for tomorrow's reality.
With this comes an understanding that learning should not be confined to lessons repeated within the same four walls of classrooms. Instead, MOE is continually researching and developing new pedagogies, with contributions from the teaching fraternity.
Setting Course for the Future
Muhammad Haikal Bin Muhammad Ridwan Yeo is currently a Planning Officer in the Planning Division of MOE HQ. His work revolves around analysing policy issues in the general education space – from primary and secondary schools to junior colleges. In doing so, he uses historical trends, simulations of future scenarios, and insights from inter-division discussions or public engagements to substantiate his recommendations to MOE Senior Management.
Prior to his role as a Planning Officer, Haikal's teaching experience at Riverside Secondary School also laid a solid foundation and opened his eyes to invaluable perspectives.
“It gave me a good sense of the pressures that students and staff feel in school,” he said. “Policy work requires me to relate back to these experiences, so that our policy recommendations are realistic to those who eventually have to implement them in schools.”
21st Century Learning
Haikal also carries a global perspective on education that stems from his experiences studying overseas in the UK under the Education Merit Scholarship.
Citing how a week in a Finnish High School had exposed him to a different style of education from Singapore's, Haikal said: “There were not many school rules and a lot of autonomy was given to students, they remained engaged in their learning. I also observed an art teacher allowing her students to choose any spot in the school to do their art work, and the teacher would go to each student to provide feedback.”
At university, he captained a floorball team with friends from all over the world and learnt how to manage a team with varied cultures and value-systems. The experience broadened his understanding of the world and he is now confident of working in teams with different backgrounds. It has also strengthened his belief that schools are a microcosm of society and should be representative of its diversity.
“School is one place for us to create sustained opportunities for children from different segments of society to go beyond their own comfort zones and learn more about each other's backgrounds,” Haikal said.
The Many Hats of a Teaching Scholar
While Haikal's enjoys working in Planning Division, he assured us that the Ministry has a lot more to offer in terms of careers.
“The great thing about MOE is that it is such a huge organisation. Every school is unique in their own ways, so being posted to teach in another school will expose us to new ways of managing our students and enhance our pedagogical skills,” he explained.
“At HQ, there is a variety of career opportunities to support the teaching fraternity – there are curriculum specialists, communications officers, educational psychologists and data analysts, just to name a few.”
Haikal surmised: “No other job has the privilege that an educator has – to be entrusted with shaping the lives of our youths and to guide them towards their own version of success!”
Learning Never Stops
Contrary to what some may believe, a teacher's learning journey does not stop when they become subject matter experts who impart their knowledge to others.
This is the case for Ngiam Wei Ling, Melissa, an MOE Teaching Scholar who is currently teaching a variety of subjects ranging from Mathematics and Science, to Social Studies, She believes that the teaching profession offers a career of lifelong learning where she can grow alongside her students.
In fact, Melissa was able to cultivate and satisfy her thirst for knowledge as part of the NTU-NIE Teaching Scholars Programme, where she participated in two research opportunities during her penultimate and final year of studies. The first saw her involved in an educational research project that explored linkages between content and pedagogical practices, while her final research project was geared towards her own academic subject.
These research components were a distinctive part of the programme that Melissa thoroughly enjoyed. She also highlighted another opportunity that enabled her to learn and grow beyond the classroom: “Students have the chance to participate in BUILD (Building University Interns for Leadership Development), where you can opt for internship stints at various organisations, including the Ministry of Education, Academy of Singapore Teachers and several other partner institutions.”
Other highlights one can look forward to in the Teaching Scholars Programme include Group Endeavours in Service Learning (GESL), where teachers work in groups to come up with a service-learning project with partner organisations; the Service and Leadership Training (SALT) programme, which allows one to hone their leadership capacities in overseas settings; and the Overseas Student Exchange Programme and International Practicum.
Melissa believes that teachers must walk the talk – she is currently picking up ice skating and the violin as an adult learner.
The Cycle Goes On
A teacher's journey is meaningful and exciting, filled with countless opportunities and paths to embark on. Some of the tracks already outlined for teachers include the Teaching Track, Specialist Track and Leadership Track.
Melissa concluded: “This fulfilling job is one that is dynamic, fast-paced and definitely not desk-bound. If you enjoy being around children, and take heart in guiding or learning from them, you should definitely join MOE!”