This message was forwarded to you from Straits Times Interactive (http://straitstimes.asia1.com.sg). This article was dated 11.09.2001.
ARTS EDUCATION GETS CREATIVE
THE day may come when Singapore's top artists will teach alongside Education Ministry teachers in school and be mentors to student interns.
Under the new enhanced arts education programme, schools can have an artist or theatre group in residence and engage the artists to teach classes or supervise projects.
Teachers can combine formal lessons with enrichment activities. All secondary-school students will be encouraged to attend at least one public concert or performance in their four years in school.
Schools will also be encouraged to form more instrumental groups and choirs so that more students can pick up music.
Lower secondary students in the Normal (Technical) stream who now do not study music will do so from next year. At the junior-college level, up to 10 scholarships worth $1,000 each will be given to students in the art and music elective programmes. There are about 1,000 students on these special programmes that teach music or art in depth.
From 2003, the Art Elective and Music Elective grade at O level can also be used in place of a humanities subject for admission to the art and music elective programmes at junior college level.
Schools which provide a varied and interesting arts programme will be publicly recognised. In two years, they can vie for the National Arts Council award worth $10,000.
Senior Minister of State for Education Aline Wong, who revealed the plans yesterday, said the new programme will develop an appreciation for the arts among students, who will make up the future arts audience.
A good arts education, she added, also develops youngsters in other ways.
'It develops creativity and a variety of interpersonal and social skills such as confidence and communication skills. It also exposes them to various forms of arts and increases their appreciation of our own cultural diversity.'
The ministry will support schools in several ways.
An arts website will be set up to provide information on arts events and programmes.
Arts-activity coordinators have been appointed in every school to plan, implement and evaluate the arts programme. More art and music teachers will be hired.
Schools may draw on their existing funds to fund the arts activities but may also apply to the ministry for more money. Schools welcomed the boost given to arts education.
Bukit Panjang Government High, which has already engaged local sculptor Baet Yeok Kuan to teach sculpture, said it is reaping the rewards.
One of their students, Tan Wei Keong who is now in JC 1, won a gold award in the Singapore Youth Festival arts and crafts exhibition last year. His sculpture now stands outside the new Education Ministry building in North Buona Vista Road.
Miss Tan Lay Choo, principal of the school, said: 'We did not just gain from the expert knowledge that Mr Baet brought along, but also his enthusiasm and love for the arts which he passed on to the students.'
Secondary two student Liang Yong Ming, whose sculpture depicting racial harmony stands in the school grounds, agreed: 'Before I came to Bukit Panjang I didn't know sculpture existed.
'Now my eyes are opened. There's nothing like learning from a real sculptor.'