For the first time, education ministers from seven top-performing school systems gathered in Singapore for the inaugural International Education Roundtable, Singapore's Ministry of Education said in a statement on Tuesday.
They gathered to discuss how education systems could continuously improve, in order to equip students with the skills and attributes required for a fast changing and unpredictable future.
The roundtable, held in Singapore from July 6 to 8, was attended by ministers and senior government officials from Australia, Canada, China, China's Hong Kong, Sweden and the United States.
Under the theme "Top performing education systems: expectations and challenges for the future", the education ministers discussed what top-performing systems should do to nurture educated citizens, and how to mobilize education systems to scale up successful innovations.
The participants noted that in an era of globalization and rapid changes, education systems, too, must keep up with the times, and constantly look ahead into the future. Foremost on their minds was how they could get young citizens ready for the future. In developing a strategy for the future, engaging and enthusing the community was essential.
The ministers noted that, as economies transformed from being industrial-based to becoming knowledge-based, there would be a transition from education for a small elite to education for all, and to high standards. Most jobs to be created would require not just basic education, but also some form of post-secondary education and training. A diversity of pathways, all of high quality, was needed to provide quality education to all. Countries such as China had made innovation and quality their top priorities, even as they expanded access to disadvantaged communities.
The ministers agreed to continue the dialogue that had started with the roundtable, through a variety of channels, and in particular to develop networks for principals to exchange best practices, and overseas exchanges for teachers and students.
Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong also addressed the education ministers at the 9th World Convention of the International Confederation of Principals held on Tuesday afternoon.