In the 1980s, Singapore was transiting from a labour-intensive to a capital-based economy. The emphasis shifted from technical education to science, technology, research and development. To keep up with an increasingly globalised world, the education system had to be reviewed to prepare students for the workforce.
The Goh Report
In 1978, a committee led by then Deputy Prime Minister Dr Goh Keng Swee was tasked to study and make recommendations to improve the education system. The Goh Report highlighted shortcomings like high education wastage and a lack of diversity to cater to the different learning needs of children.
A significant outcome of The Goh Report was the development of a New Education System, fundamentally changing Singapore’s education landscape. Streaming was introduced, and there was an emphasis on moral education.
A New Curriculum
Following the recommendations from the Goh Report in 1979, MOE set up the Curriculum Development Institute of Singapore (CDIS) in 1980 to develop Singapore textbooks for Singaporeans. New local textbooks were written to replace imported teaching materials and a national curriculum was developed.
Local and foreign advisors were recruited by CDIS to produce quality teaching and learning materials for the Singapore curriculum. Project teams were assembled to develop local curriculum resources on English, Chinese, Mathematics and Science. More subjects were included over the years.
CDIS helped schools acquire the infrastructure for computer-based learning. Teachers were trained to integrate these lessons in class. Every school was equipped with audio-visual facilities, making learning more varied and enriching for students.
The establishment of CDIS saw the creation of high-quality textbooks and teaching materials tailored to the needs of Singaporean students. Other local commercial publishers continued to publish materials until the late 1970s.
CDIS Developed Education Materials
Greater Autonomy for Schools
Music, Art and Language Elective Programmes were introduced to secondary schools during this period. Schools were also free to offer enrichment programmes such as science research, outdoor and adventure learning and work attachments. These programmes allowed students to broaden their education experience and pursue their interests.