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Speech: BETT Asia Leadership Summit

HE Scott Wightman gave an opening speech at BETT (British Education Training & Technology) Asia, 17 November 2015.


HE Scott Wightman

Ladies and Gentlemen. Thank you.

It’s a great honour, as well as a pleasure, to be invited to join you at the 2nd BETT Asia Leadership Summit in Singapore.

The BETT (British Education Training & Technology) Show, held every year in London for the last 30 years, is widely recognised around the world as the leading showcase for the latest educational technologies and solutions.

This second BETT Asia Leadership Summit in Singapore brings together key educational decision-makers and people at the forefront of innovation to discuss education and technology, with a particular focus on Asia.

I want to congratulate London-based i2i Events Group for putting together an exhibition showcasing educational solutions from international exhibitors, including 17 British companies, alongside the main conference.

As you all know, Singapore is a world leader in education, regularly heading global league tables for science and mathematics.

It’s also known for its use of information communications technology, together with a holistic curriculum that emphasises the quality of educators and their professional development.

And Singapore’s Government has set itself the ambition of becoming the world’s first smart nation.

So in this it’s Golden Jubilee, SG50, there couldn’t be a more appropriate place for you coming together.

BETT Asia aims to equip educators from Asia Pacific with the tools they need for the 21st century classroom.

It is the next step in developing a relationship to share knowledge and ideas internationally with the common goal of internationalising education practices and ultimately improving student outcomes.

And as part of BETT Asia this year, i2i Events Group has been collaborating with the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) to run a competition for outstanding companies.

The EdTech Excellence Award 2015 is celebrating and showcasing the most innovative small to medium sized education technology solutions and companies operating in the Asian education space.

The winners will be announced tomorrow.

Ladies and gentlemen, the relationship between Singapore and the UK is strong and enduring. A year ago, President Tan paid a highly successful State Visit to the UK to kick off the 50th year of diplomatic relations.

This year, Prime Minister David Cameron visited Singapore in July, accompanied by four Cabinet members and some 100 business leaders.

In August, The Duke of York and the Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond, came for the SG50 National Day celebrations on the Padang.

Our relationship is broad and deep. Our armed forces are operating side by side in Iraq as part of the multinational anti-ISIL coalition.

Our navies are operating side by side in the Gulf of Aden to combat piracy.

We are members of the region’s only collective security organisation – the Five Power Defence Arrangements. Singapore is the UK’s largest trading partner in ASEAN, accounting for half of our total exports to the region in 2014. That’s over £11 billion.

It’s the UK’s sixth largest Asian market and a top 25 market for UK exports.

And the UK is the third largest source of foreign direct investment into Singapore. Over a thousand UK companies have a presence here…

…while three quarters of Singapore’s foreign direct investment into the EU goes to the UK, including significant investments in infrastructure, making the UK second only to China as the preferred destination of Singaporean investment.

But it is education which lies at the heart of our relationship. Every year over 7000 Singaporean students go to the UK to study at one of our world-class universities.

Over half of the Singaporean Cabinet studied in the UK. There are more Cambridge graduates in Singapore’s Cabinet than in the British Cabinet.

Each year we’re seeing more British students coming here to study at Singapore’s universities, as they shoot up the international league tables.

Remarkably, right here in Singapore, there are over 50,000 students from many nationalities taking courses for UK qualifications offered here by Singaporean institutions.

With over 1000 UK transnational educational qualifications to choose from to study locally, Singapore accounts for more than 10% of the global market share of UK transnational educational courses, second only to Malaysia. Nearly half of all UK transnational qualifications in Singapore are business-related.

That’s because employers here value UK qualifications and this is a message that is mirrored in many reports and surveys when looking at the progression of transnational education students into employment.

In this way, tens of thousands of Singaporeans are able to benefit from a UK qualification without leaving home. And this builds the bonds of future partnerships for prosperity.

I think this appetite for UK qualifications and education reflects a growing appreciation in Asia of the importance of teaching 21st century skills.

Of course, the basics remain absolutely vital.

But Governments in places like South Korea and Singapore increasingly understand that future success for their young people, and future success for their economies, will also be based on their ability to collaborate, their resilience, their self-awareness, their creativity.

And students today also need real-world learning to prepare for the world of employment in a digital age.

Technology is a tool, an enabler in this context.

It’s an unavoidable ingredient of success in the modern world.

But it is only as effective as the leaders who are integrating it, and who are using it to build strategies for defining and attaining key learning goals.

And that’s why it is so important that you all make the most of your time at Bett Asia this week.

BETT Asia can help you find meaningful and effective ways to use technology to improve the outcomes for your students.

It can help to equip educators with the knowledge and ability to teach all students the skills - digital, creative and core - that they need to be ready to face the future.

And there’s an extensive menu for you to choose from at BETT Asia.

In addition to visionary and inspiring keynote speakers, you can select from streams with different focus areas such as trends and innovations in teaching and learning, higher and further education, and case studies for sharing best practice.

The School Leaders Academy offers practical, interactive workshops with a focus on the processes for driving continuous high-impact improvement within schools.

The LearnLive theatre offers demonstrations from the new and the next in educational technologies, as well as showcasing some of Singapore’s most exciting EdTech projects in partnership with the IDA.

And of course the exhibition features an exciting start-up zone, as well as key players in ed-tech advancements.

So please make the most of the opportunities on offer to you today and tomorrow, whether it be hearing the latest trends in the main conference or gaining fresh insights at the complementary events such as the Exhibition, School Leaders’ Academy and the interactive workshops focusing on innovations in pedagogy, process and products.

I want to conclude by thanking all the partners, stakeholders and educators who have made BETT Asia possible.

Thank you all for coming.

And have a great Summit.

Further Information

Follow the British High Commissioner to Singapore on Twitter @HCScottinSG

Follow the British High Commission Singapore on Twitter @UKinSingapore

Follow the British High Commission Singapore on Facebook

Follow the British High Commission Singapore on Instagram

Published 17 November 2015