Singapore Education Minister Ng Chee Meng visits the Israel Arts and Sciences Academy in Jerusalem.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Singapore Education Minister Ng Chee Meng visited Israel this week to tour the country’s schools, among them the prestigious Israel Arts and Sciences Academy (IASA) in Jerusalem.
The high school was established in 1990 by the Israel Center for Excellence through Education (ICEE), to provide a learning environment for outstanding students in the sciences and humanities.
The school’s unique math and sciences curriculum allows students to study experimental sciences – biology, chemistry and physics – alongside computer science and higher mathematics, as well as ethics and the philosophy of science.
Students are also encouraged to personalize their education programs and pursue studies in the fields of astrophysics, thermodynamics, brain research, quantum theory and oceanography.
“There is no doubt that we have a lot to learn from one another,” Meng said during the visit.
The ICEE has also developed educational programs in the fields of science, technology and engineering – known as STEM subjects, which it exports to various countries throughout the world, including Singapore.
Earlier this year, the Singapore education system announced it intended to expand its use of the ICEE’s flagship curriculum for STEM subjects, the “Excellence 2000” (E2K) program.
Dr. Avi Poleg from the ICEE met a few months ago with senior education officials in Singapore, who expressed an interest to expand the E2K program to all elementary schools in the country by the year 2020.
The E2K program, intended for pupils from fourth through ninth grades, is currently implemented in some 400 schools in Israel and focuses on a variety of STEM fields, including space, astrophysics and technology.
ICEE director and IASA principal Etay Benovich said he was proud that a country with an extraordinary education system, such as Singapore, would come to “examine the Israeli education system, and in particular to research the characteristics of the Israel Arts and Science Academy.”
Singapore has one of the top education systems in the world with regards to mathematics and sciences.
Its students place at top of international standings, ranking among the top three countries in mathematics according to the OECD’s 2012 Program for International Student Assessment exam, while Israel ranked 40 in mathematics.
“They tried to understand the secret to our success in hi-tech, creativity and Israeli research and how we as a school are successful in promoting our students,” said Benovich. “We know how to challenge the curious youth and get them to ask questions, to think critically and creatively and perhaps, unlike Singapore, to dare to fail and learn from mistakes.”