Coronavirus: Vote of confidence for Singapore’s adaptability to online work, school

15 Apr 2020, The Straits Times

NTU President Emeritus and TCTF Council Member Professor Cham Tao Soon voiced his vote of confidence for Singapore’s adaptability to online work and learning in The Straits Times Opinion article. In assessing whether Singapore can cope with the new and stringent requirements of business and education continuity plans (work from home, home-based learning) over the circuit breaker period in response to coronavirus pandemic, Prof Cham reviewed the following infocomm technology strategies and plans:

In 2014, a Digitalisation Plan for Singapore was developed with the objective of making Singapore a Smart Nation, followed by the Infocomm Masterplan targeting for 2025 for both the public and private sectors and to support an ageing population. The aims were to have productivity growth using IT for all work processes, which would create more higher-skill jobs. SkillsFuture programmes help to create a digital workforce of local talent while Enterprise Singapore drives the digital transformation of enterprises in their business processes, business models and organisation. Prof Cham as chairman of the governing council of the Singapore Quality Awards observed the increasing number of companies interested in transformation for business excellence.

Schools and Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) have also adopted online learning for a long time to complement classroom learning and enable students to benefit from other learning tools. In 2015, UniSIM (predecessor of Singapore University of Social Sciences) adopted online learning for learning continuity as all part-time students were working adults and there were 800 part-time lecturers.

From his experience through various appointments in education, industry and business over the years, Prof Cham Tao Soon is confident Singapore’s Smart Nation plan and digitalisation plans for business and education continuity can proceed smoothly. Whilst there will be some teething problems, he believes we can manage them.