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Creating the New Learning Environment

With the birth of the information age, Singapore's competitiveness is dependent on its people's ability to exploit information technology. We must be equipped with the appropriate skills to manage information effectively. All these ...

Singapore, 28 November 1996 | For Immediate Release

With the birth of the information age, Singapore's competitiveness is dependent on its people's ability to exploit information technology. We must be equipped with the appropriate skills to manage information effectively. All these skills can be acquired through carefully planned programmes.

Training should begin from young. Teachers can use IT to make learning interesting and stimulating for students and nurture their creative and thinking skills.

Easy accessibility to information can keep us informed about our community, trading partners as well as happenings around the world, raising the information fluency among Singaporeans.

IT can also be used to improve our quality of life. Today, technology such as electronic mail enables us to communicate with our families and friends anytime, anywhere. Tomorrow, with the emergence of electronic commerce, we will be able to shop from home via the computer.


The thrust of the NCB's Education cluster is to harness IT more effectively for life-long learning. Its programmes are targeted at two groups of individuals:-

- School-going children, for whom IT can be used for learning both within and outside schools;

- Adult learners, both professionals and general workers who can use IT to upgrade their skills and competencies.

The NCB works closely with the Ministry of Education (MOE) to roll out IT programmes to meet these objectives. The Accelerating the Use of IT in Primary School (AITP) and Student's and Teacher's Workbench (STW) programmes are well underway. Internet has been introduced in the MOE HQ, all primary and secondary schools, junior colleges and institutes.

Accelerating the Use of IT in Primary Schools (AITP)

The AITP programme aims to equip students with critical information and higher order skills necessary for the knowledge-based economy. It has been successfully piloted for about 10,000 children in six primary schools. The programme has been well received by students and teachers alike. Work is well underway to extend the AITP programme to all primary schools. To date, more than half of the 200 primary schools have been equipped with about 100 computers each, as well as software and the necessary infrastructure. The remaining schools will be equipped by early 1997. To date, almost half of the 10,000 primary school teachers have been trained in IT skills. All primary school teachers will be trained by next year in IT skills as well as pedagogy relevant to the IT-enriched curriculum in schools.

Students' and Teacher's Workbench (STW)

The STW was piloted in six secondary schools from January this year to deliver Science lessons to Secondary One students. With STW, teachers can prepare multimedia lesson packages, and deliver these lessons in class with participation from students. Students can access the lesson packages later for review, or if they have missed the lessons in class. By next year, a pilot project will be operational to enable students to access the lesson packages from their homes. The STW has received overwhelming feedback from principals, teachers and students. The project will be extended to include the teaching of Secondary Two Science curriculum in the same pilot schools in 1997.

Distance Learning

The NCB is working with the industry and tertiary institutions to promote distance learning. This initiative will allow individuals to learn at their own pace. Distance learning will also overcome the constraints of physical space and time in the provision of teaching and learning. The aim is to create a richer and more vibrant learning environment for both students and adults. Several trials on the concept of distance learning will be launched.

The first is a series of trial on-line learning services to be conducted with local companies such as SkyMedia and Times Publishing. Students will be able to access high quality multimedia educational content from their homes. These include materials related to the school curriculum as well as for enrichment.

The second is a Virtual Campus Trial with the Singapore Polytechnic, to extend learning to the home. Under this initiative, facilities will be developed to support the teaching of the Polytechnic's part-time courses for working professionals through distance learning. These students will be able to access lecture and tutorial materials, digital resources and electronic library services on-line, either from their homes or within the campus. Students, tutors and lecturers can also interact with each other through e-mails and discussion groups. In addition, lecturers and tutors can also conduct electronic tutorials and seminars with the students. The trial will also be extended to allow full-time students to access tutorial and other learning materials on line after normal lectures.

Both the On-line Learning and Virtual Campus trials will be operated over the pilot Singapore ONE network next year. The NCB is also working with a number of commercial organisations to develop distance learning packages for working adults. Several projects are in the pipeline and will be announced next year.

IT Master Plan for Education

In this year's Teacher's Day Rally, Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong spoke of the need to use IT to enhance teaching and learning. The NCB and MOE are now developing the IT Master Plan for Education. All schools will be equipped with appropriate IT infrastructure and equipment, and teachers will be trained to fully exploit IT as an effective teaching tool. Details of the plan will be announced early next year.

Internet Mirror Site

The NCB is supporting efforts by a local company, Sembawang Media, to set up an education Internet mirror site in Singapore. This project, called "MirrorS", will focus on mirroring rich education content from around the world. "MirrorS", to be launched in early 1997, will enable students and adult learners to have quick access to relevant content for learning purposes. They will be able to search for information, visit relevant web sites and conduct research on the Internet much faster than if the contents were to be accessed from overseas Internet sites. When the Singapore ONE infrastructure is in place, users will be able to access "MirrorS" to obtain rich multimedia content at high transmission speeds.

For clarifications, please contact:

Gan Boon San
Deputy Director
Education Cluster
National Computer Board
Tel: 7720277
Fax: 7780993

Tay Lay Kheng
Senior CorporateCommunication Officer
National Computer Board
Tel: 7720211
Fax: 7795340

Digital Library

The Digital Library cluster's vision is to bring information to the people through a network of borderless libraries and information providers. Its programmes reach out to all segments of the user population: children, adults, professionals,researchers, and the business community. The NCB works closely with the industry, user champions such as the National Library Board (NLB), National Science and Technology Board (NSTB) and the Singapore Productivity and Standards Board (PSB) to enable Singaporeans to enjoy more convenient and cost effective access to information.


 A major milestone towards this end has been achieved with the launch of TiARA (Timely Information for All, Relevant and Affordable). TiARA is a multi-agency effort by the NLB, NCB, NSTB and participating libraries. It is an Internet-based system that links libraries and content providers to enable users to access a wide range of library and information services from their desktops. TiARA is the first of its kind in the world. It can be accessed at


The services available through TiARA include access to more than 200 databases from authoritative information sources, as well as basic library services. TiARA services will be offered free to the public for three months. Usage will be monitored to determine the eventual pricing structures.

Local and Regional Information Services

The NCB is working with the industry and other government agencies to offer more new electronic information services. Plans include a collaboration with the National Library Board and National Archives of Singapore to provide Online Access to Singapore Information and Services (OASIS) and a joint project with local publisher Landmark Books and Sembawang Media to produce an interactive, multimedia version of the book "Singapore: Then and Now".

In addition, an Interactive Discovery Learning (IDL) application, developed by the Institute of Systems Science (ISS), will be launched in the second quarter of 1997. An Internet-based application , the IDL will first be deployed at public libraries. With media-rich content, game-like interfaces and multi-user communication, this upcoming IDL application will help children learn about the history of Singapore in an entertaining environment through interactive games.

Other information services in the pipeline include local and regional business information and general news, as well as a Public Health Information Service.

Inculcating Information Skills

To help Singaporeans use the various information services effectively, programmes will be put in place to promote awareness, raise the information fluency of Singaporeans and inculcate information search and navigation skills. Search tools will be developed to enable users to pick out easily relevant information from the multitude of databases. As a start, an alert service will be available in TiARA to notify users of new information related to their fields of interest.

Ensuring Reach

Various initiatives are in place to ensure that all Singaporeans have easy and convenient access to the above information services. Computers and Internet access are now available in public libraries. Over the next two years, the National Library Board plans to increase the number of computers in public libraries to an average of 40 computers in a Community Library and 80 in a Regional Library.

In addition, the Children's and Community Libraries will be extended in the same time frame to offer additional computer facilities. The first Multimedia Information Centre (MIC) will open in the second half of 1997 at the newly renovated National Library at Stamford Road. Users can access a wide range of multimedia information (such as videos, learning packages, CD-ROMs, CDs) and online information services at the MIC.

User Needs and Interest Groups (UNIGs)

User Needs and Interest Groups have been set up to provide directions, feedback and support for specific segments of users. These include: UNIG for Business chaired by the PSB, UNIG for Science and Technology chaired by the NSTB, and one for the general needs of the populace that is chaired by the NLB.

Multi-Agency Effort

The NCB has adopted a multi-agency approach to roll out its Digital Library initiatives, working closely with the industry, user champions and research institutes. The NCB would like to thank the NSTB for seeding the development of the network of borderless libraries through its Science And Technology Information Network (SATIN) initiative which helped jumpstart the Digital Library initiative.

About 10,000 individual users and 200 organisations are targeted to use the Digital Library Services within a year. Plans are underway to offer these information services through the Singapore ONE network, and through public kiosks.

For clarifications, please contact:

Julie Sabaratnam or Tay Lay Kheng
Director Senior CorporateCommunication Officer
Digital Library Cluster National Computer Board
National Computer Board Tel: 7720211
Tel: 7720300 Fax: 7795340
Fax : 7762248


(Digital Library Services)
National Library Board

Creating an IT Culture, making IT a way of life

As the nation advances towards the information society, Singaporeans must be able to embrace IT into their daily routines. The NCB aims to create an IT culture in which people from all walks of life are comfortable with and adept at using computers at home, school, work and play. The Board has been working closely with industry partners to promote the benefits of IT to everyone, and to accelerate the adoption of IT in homes, libraries, and community centres. This two-prong strategy focusing on awareness promotion and adoption initiatives has proven a winning formula.

Computer Roadshow Takes IT to the People

The Computer Roadshow aims to raise the public's awareness of IT and to show how IT can enhance the quality of life of Singaporeans. Six roadshows were organised in 1996 at shopping malls, libraries, a community club, and a school. Themed "IT at Home", the roadshows attracted some 35,000 visitors.

Computer Playgrounds to Increase IT Fluency Among the Young

The NCB provided seed-funding and helped its industry partners launch five computer playgrounds in 1996. The computer playgrounds aim to promote IT literacy and fluency among the young. Designed for children between the ages of five and twelve, the playgrounds provide an affordable, fun-filled and stimulating learning environment for children to explore the world of IT.

Quest IT, the first computer playground with 60 computers, was launched in May 1996 at Suntec City Shopping Mall. A second computer playground, the Kuo Chuan Computer Playground, was opened in Toa Payoh in August 1996 and is targeted at HDB residents. About 6,500 children have visited the two computer playgrounds since they began operations. Schools have also sent their students on excursion trips to the playgrounds and have given positive feedback on their usefulness.

Three more computer playgrounds at NTUC lifestyle centres will be launched in December this year. These will be operated by Ace Family Lifestyle Pte Ltd. The NCB hopes that through these pilot projects, private enterprises will be able to fully set up, manage and proliferate computer playgrounds as commercially viable businesses. The NCB has provided advice and facilitated the collaboration between the Chinese Development Assistance Council (CDAC) and Horizon Technologies International Pte Ltd to set up a computer playground at the CDAC headquarters in Tanjong Katong.

Cybertime IT 4U On TV to Further Promote IT Awareness

The NCB, together with its industry partners and sponsors, facilitated the production of Cybertime IT 4U, a four-part variety-type TV documentary this year. The project uses mass media to introduce the local audience to current trends and developments in IT. The programme looks at the impact of IT on the average Singaporean's daily life and how IT can be further exploited to help us stay ahead. Cybertime IT 4U attracted some 630,000 viewers from both the English and Mandarin channels.

IT POWER21, to Train the Workforce of the 21st Century

The NCB launched the IT POWER21 in 1996 to train 50,000 office workers over the next five years. IT POWER21 will empower the workforce for the 21st century by equipping it with knowledge on the latest technologies for the workplace. It will provide office workers with the basic knowledge of work group computing, Internet, and multimedia technology. There are currently 14 training centres authorised to conduct IT POWER21. These include registered private training centres, trade associations, unions, and in-house training centres. The new IT POWER21 is a natural evolution from the IT POWER programme, which was launched in 1988 by the NCB and the former National Productivity Board to provide basic IT skills and knowledge to office workers. Over 50,000 workers have been trained under IT POWER.

Future Plans Will Be Further Augmented to Reach Out to Singaporeans

In the coming year, the NCB will put in place more programmes to reach out to a more diverse group of Singaporeans. Learning Centres for adults will be piloted at the Bukit Batok Community Club and Tampines East Community Club. Each learning centre will be equipped with 20 multimedia personal computers with access to the Internet and a wide range of resources for residents including desktop publishing software, graphic design tools, and CD-ROMs. In addition, regular classes on PC skills will be conducted at the learning centres.

A permanent IT exhibition will be staged at the Singapore Science Centre. To show that IT can be applied in creative areas such as art, a nation-wide Digital Art competition will be organised. The Singapore Scouts Association is also collaborating with the NCB to equip scouts with IT skills to enable them to become IT ambassadors in introducing IT to their peers and families. A new training course, IT POWER Basic, will be launched next year to train 200,000 workers in basic IT skills over the next five years.