SINGAPORE: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the Yale—NUS College will not be a replica of Yale College in the US, but it’ll be a bold effort to create something new and different.
He said it is not without risk, but the government believes this is the right way forward.
Mr Lee was speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony of Yale—NUS, Singapore’s first liberal arts college at the National University of Singapore (NUS).
Yale—NUS College will be sited north of the NUS main campus at Kent Ridge, next to its University Town.
The facilities are expected to be completed by August 2015.
Mr Lee said the government is fully committed to the college’s success and is glad that Yale has also given strong backing to the project.
He said Yale—NUS presents a new offering in Singapore’s higher education landscape, a system which combines the best of east and west.
"That takes the best of US liberal arts education from Yale, New Haven, adds NUS’s distinctive global and Asian strengths, and adapts this mix to our different social and cultural contexts, and creates an experience which is more relevant to students from Singapore and from Asia," he shared.
He said this gives high—calibre Singaporean students another option to pursue degrees at home instead of going overseas.
Yale—NUS College president & Professor Pericles Lewis said: We’re developing a curriculum that compares Asian and western cultures, so that you can study Confucius and Aristotle and see how the two of them thought about virtue in two very different ways. You can study the modern Irish poet W B Yeats and modern Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore, and learning about the distinctiveness of each of these cultures and see what each of them have to offer."
Mr Lee also gave his assessment of Singapore’s education system.
He said it’s not perfect as parents and students still stress about tests and key examinations and that tuition has become a minor national obsession.
Despite that, Mr Lee said Singapore isn’t doing too badly.
As for the tertiary sector, Mr Lee said Singapore will continue to enlarge it, not by doing more of the same, but by diversifying tertiary landscape.
The Yale—NUS College has recruited nearly 40 faculty members. About five of them are from Yale, while another five are from NUS.
And these faculty members were chosen from 2,300 applications around the world.
When the college reaches steady state in a few years’ time, it’s expected to have about 100 faculty members.
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