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Initiating change in the education system

Shane Castevens, a math teacher at Stokes Early College in Walnut Cove, started our day by asking,

“How do we initiate change in the education system?”

The Infocomm Development Authority (iDA) of Singapore has some ideas.

The mission of iDA is to develop information technology and telecommunications within Singapore to serve citizens of all ages and companies of all sizes. iDA actively supports the growth of innovative technology companies and start-ups in Singapore, working with leading global IT companies as well as developing excellent information technology and telecommunications infrastructure, policies, and capabilities for Singapore.

Adrian Lim, the director of the education sector of iDA, spoke to the Burroughs Wellcome Scholars before the group toured the iDA labs and Makerspace.


Lim is passionate about how technology can be used to support and change education, and he says the solutions will be school-based, bottom-up solutions that are driven by educators.

“What,” Lim asks, “if we involved the educators from the very beginning? What we if we designed the education system together?”


Lim sees a future where students will need to dig deep, technology will be used in the school setting only if it has a purpose, and problem-based learning will enable students to solve our problems of tomorrow.

Here are the iDA labs and Makerspace where Lim and others figure out how to bring those big ideas to students.

In this space, the recipe for success is a jug of teamwork, a cup of nurturing, a bag of courage, a bowl of innovation, and a bottle of integrity.

And in the labs, there are lots of ingredients for the makers to experiment with as they look for ways to initiate change.

Singapore aspires to be a smart nation, and the prime minister says the vision is “a nation where people live meaningful and fulfilled lives, enabled seamlessly by technology, offering exciting opportunities for all.” In the iDA, they are busy working on it.

Lim reminds us that this work is all about the children. It is the kind of space that invites touching, exploring, innovating. The motto here is try fast, fail fast.


Here is Adrian Lim’s presentation:

Mebane Rash

Mebane Rash is the CEO and editor-in-chief of EducationNC.