ATC171018: Select Committee on Education and Recreation Joint Study Tour (with the Select Committee on Social Services) to Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia 09-21 July 2017 dated 18 October 2017

NCOP Education and Technology, Sports, Arts and Culture







Table of Contents


LIST OF Acronyms. iii

Parliamentary delegation. iii

Parliamentary official. iii

1.     Background and introduction. 1

2.     Indonesia. 3

2.1.  Overview of Indonesia. 3

2.2.  Basic Education. 3

2.3.  Vocational Education. 4

2.4.  Issues emanating from the deliberations. 5

3.     Singapore. 5

3.1.  Overview. 5

3.2.  Education in general 6

3.3.  Vocational Education. 6

3.4.  Higher Education. 7

3.5.  Singapore Discovery Centre. 8

3.6.  Issues emanating from the deliberations. 8

4.     Malaysia. 9

4.1.  Overview. 9

4.2.  Higher Education. 10

4.3.  Issues emanating from the deliberations. 11

5.     Conclusion. 12

6.     Appreciation. 12










LIST OF Acronyms


  1. TVET                            Technical and Vocational Education and Training
  2. RPL                              Recognition of Prior Learning
  3. ITE                                Institute of Technical Education
  4. SDC                              Singapore Discovery Centre
  5. NDP                              National Development Plan
  6. MOE                             Minister of Education
  7. STEM                           Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics
  8. NE                                National Education
  9. PHD                              Doctor of Philosophy
  10. CEO                              Chief Executive Officer
  11. MOOC                           Massive Open Online Courses


Parliamentary delegation


  1. Ms LC Dlamini – Chairperson: Select Committee on Social Services

2. Mrs LL Zwane – Chairperson: Select Committee on Education and Recreation

3. Ms TK Mampuru – Committee Whip

4. Mrs TG Mpambo-Sibhukwana

5. Ms PC Samka

6. Mr C Hattingh

7. Mr M Khawula

8. Ms L Moshodi

9. Ms D Ngwenya


Parliamentary official


  1. Mr Lindumzi Komle – Content Advisor




1.    Background and introduction


The Select Committee on Education and Recreation (hereinafter, the Committee) conducted a study tour to Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia from 09 – 21 July 2017. The study tour was in line with the Committee’s 2014-2019 Strategic Plan and the 2015/16 Annual Performance Plan.


This study tour was guided by the priorities as set in the major government plans such as the National Development Plan 2030 and the Medium Term Strategic Framework, 2014 – 2019.  The following are the key outcomes as stated in the NDP, which guided and informed the Committee’s oversight work:


  1. Quality basic education;
  2. A skilled and capable workforce to support an inclusive growth path; and
  3. A diverse, socially cohesive society with a common national identity.


Furthermore, Section 9(3) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa (Act No. 108 of 1996) guarantees the right not to be unfairly discriminated on one or more grounds, including race, gender, sex, ethnic or social origin and etc. Also, the United Nation’s instruments such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child; the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women and others take cognisance of the importance of participation by all citizens regardless of their situations. It is worth mentioning that South Africa’s democracy emerged from a system where the majority of its citizens were deliberately disadvantaged. There are still discrepancies in terms of availability and /or access to resources and facilities, be it in education, sports and arts and culture hence, government made education a top priority. The Select Committee on Education and Recreation focused on Basic and Higher Education.

In terms of the basic education sector, a greater focus of the study tour was on:

  • The funding of basic education;
  • School structure in management;
  • Protocols of the system of education (Levels from top management (Director-General) to the school level;
  • Parental involvement in education of their children;
  • Provision of special education and special schools;
  • Pass rate in Mathematics and Physical Science;
  • Management of scholar transport and
  • Teacher qualification. 


Higher Education has two branches, namely Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) and University Education.

Concerning TVET, the Committee focused primarily on the following:

  • Accreditation of qualifications;
  • The role of Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL);
  • Bursaries and scholarships for students and how do they assist in growing the numbers of learners in the TVET sector;
  • Admission requirements of students to TVET Colleges;
  • How to avoid mismatch of skills (skills needed by the industry and those supplied by the TVET Colleges);
  • Competency of lecturers and their qualifications; and
  • Employability of their graduates.


Concerning University Education, the focus of the Committee was:

  • Business involvement in education;
  • Number of foreign students and their fields of study;
  • Research and development: who influences it;
  • Quality control of higher education;
  • Admission requirements;
  • Quality of lecturers and researchers;
  • Financial stability of universities;
  • Ranking of Universities; and
  • Employability of their graduates.


The visits on the study tour were as follows:

  • Indonesia: The Committee met with the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture.
  • Singapore: The Committee met with Institute for Technical Education (ITE) management and the meeting was followed by the tour of the college.
  • Singapore: The Committee met with the management of the Ministry of Education with a special focus on Higher Education.
  • Singapore: The Committee visited Singapore Discovery Centre, which is an information hub for schoolchildren.
  • Malaysia: The Committee met with the Management of Higher Education Ministry.


This report, therefore, contains an account of the journey of the Committee to the above-mentioned countries. Furthermore, it provides a summary of the key issues that emerged from the interactions between the Committee and the representatives of the respective departments, Committee’s deliberations, and observations.


2.    Indonesia

2.1.   Overview of Indonesia


The Indonesian national motto “Unity in Diversity”. There are some 300 ethnic groups, a result of both the country's unique geography and history. The glue that binds the people together is the usage of the Bahasa Indonesia, the national language. The majority of Indonesians are of Malay extraction. There are ethnic Chinese, Indians and Arabs concentrated mostly in urban areas.  Indonesia is the fourth most populous nation in the world after China, India and the United States. Six religions are formally recognized in Indonesia and have official national holidays commemorating events of importance to their followers.

Estimates vary, but about 87% of the population is Muslim. Roughly 10% is Christian (Protestant and Roman Catholic) and approximately 3% is Hindu, Buddhist or Confucian. While the country is predominantly Muslim, the government is secular and therefore is not based on a single religion.


2.2.   Basic Education


Indonesian education system is the fourth largest in the world with 54 million students, 3 million teachers, and 300,000 schools. Education from Primary to high school level is compulsory. Primary and middle school is free, while in high school, there is small fees. The completion rate for Indonesian primary schools is high. Student–teacher ratios is 24 to 1 and 19 to 1, respectively, for primary and secondary schools. There are challenges when it comes to finding qualified teachers and providing textbooks for remote areas.

Education is well financed as 20% of the budget goes to education. In the education budget, R131 trillion is for salaries of which R1.7 million is for teacher salaries excluding professional allowance. The Central and the Local Government subsidize ECD centres. The local government provides for all school operational costs.

In Indonesia, there are 719 languages. At early grades (grade 1 – 3), learners use local languages but at higher grades, they use Indonesia Basa. There are 25 students from South Africa studying in Indonesia and they are studying Arts and Culture. It was reported that some students withdraw from programmes because they could not pay for transport.

Teacher qualification is either a Bachelor degree or a Diploma IV.  Teachers are further trained by teacher training institute in order to master the content, pedagogy, personal competency and socio competency. Teachers in rural areas get allowances such that they get triple salary.

The existence of teacher unions is to enhance teacher development to improve their competency and personal development and they are apolitical. From 2014, there is a new regulation whereby secondary and especial education is the responsibility of the provincial government. Primary and basic education is free and government subsidy covers 50%of school operation. Poor students get free education and the policy of Indonesia dictates that 30% of students should study for free or fully subsidized by government. Students who come from families that hold a Family Welfare card get educational grants in the form of the Smart Indonesian Programme. Students that are in the Smart Indonesian Programme get Smart Indonesia Card. The purpose of the programme is to improve enrolment in elementary and secondary schools and reduce the number of dropouts. Schools take part in National Science Olympiads to facilitate, motivate, and enhance the ability of students who have talents in the field of science, art, culture, sports, entrepreneurship, information technology and earth science. Dropout is high for boys from poor families. Indonesia wishes to have at least one special school in every district.


2.3.   Vocational Education


In Vocational education, there are 4.6 million students and most their areas of study is as follows:

Technology and engineering (33%), Business management (26%), Information Communication Technology (22%), Tourism (7%), Agribusiness and Agro technology (5%), Health and Social Workers (4.38%), Arts and Creative Industry (0.89%) and Energy and Mining (0.29%). Indonesia wants to have vocational education that is competitive and makes students to be employable.


2.4.   Issues emanating from the deliberations


  • There are 719 local languages in Indonesia.
  • Indonesian education system is the 4th largest in the world.
  • There are 25 students from South Africa studying Arts and Culture.
  • There are more than 4000 universities and most are private and less than 200 public universities.
  • Rural teachers get allowances such that their salary is termed as triple salary.
  • There are teacher unions, and they are regulated to focus on teacher development.
  • There is a higher dropout for boys from poor families.

3.    Singapore

3.1.   Overview


Singapore is considered to be one of the most cosmopolitan and prosperous destinations in the world. With its beautiful beaches and dazzling skyscrapers, it is a mix of unearthly beauty and modern technology. It is also widely known for its cleanliness, cosmopolitan vibe, and electronics.

Consisting of a main island that is linked by a causeway and bridge to southern Malaysia, Singapore also has about 63 smaller islands. Two of the man-made connections to Malaysia are the Tuas Second link in the west and the Johor-Singapore causeway in the north. There are also some land reclamation projects. As a result, the country continues to get bigger, even though it is an island. In fact, in the 1960s the land area was 581.5 km2 (224.5 square metres) and today it is 704 km2 (272 square metres) today. It is estimated that within the next 20 years it might grow by as much as 100 km2 (40 square metres). Some of the land in Singapore has been set aside for nature reserves, although the country’s urbanization has eradicated most of the rainforests. There are no natural lakes, but there are reservoirs to help store water for the water supply. English is the official language, although there are other languages spoken including Tamil, Mandarin, and Malay.


3.2.   Education in general


Education in Singapore is managed by the Ministry of Education (MOE), which controls the development and administration of state schools receiving government funding, but also has an advisory and supervisory role in respect of private schools. For both private and state schools, there are variations in the extent of autonomy in their curriculum, scope of government aid and funding, tuition burden on the students, and admission policy. Education spending usually makes up about 20 percent of the annual national budget, which subsidises state education and government-assisted private education for Singaporean citizens. In 2000 the Compulsory Education Act codified compulsory education for children of primary school age (excepting those with disabilities), and made it a criminal offence for parents to fail to enrol their children in school and ensure their regular attendance. The main language of instruction in Singapore is English, which was officially designated the first language within the local education system in 1987. Although Malay, Mandarin and Tamil are also official languages, English is the language of instruction for nearly all subjects. The Education system is more flexible and diverse in order to provide students with greater choice to meet their different interests and ways of learning. The system seeks to help every child to find his/her own talents, and grow and emerge from school confident of his/her abilities.

In Singapore, the Committee focused on Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) such that the Committee visited Institute of Technical Education (ITE) and Higher Education.


3.3.   Vocational Education


Vocational education has been an important part of Singapore’s unique economic planning since 1992, where it began to transform and change the perception of vocational education and decided to transform and preposition it so that it was not seen as a place of last resort for underachieving pupils. Since 1995, enrolment in vocational schools has doubled, now making up 65% of the cohort who go on to post-secondary education (ages 16–18), with 25% accepted into the ITE and another 40% attending polytechnic universities. Singapore achieved the abovementioned figures by changing the mind-set of the people about vocational education. Surveys were done and also alumni were used to change people’s mind-set. Vocational education is cheap compared to university education, as it is 96% subsidised and some companies offer bursaries to students. 80% of the curriculum of vocational education is based on career choice and 15% is based on transferable skills or soft skills (like communication). 

The admission requirements for vocational education is based on subject required for the course. Mainly English, Mathematics and Physical Science are the subjects that are required for admission for vocational education.

In order to avoid mismatch of skills, the government gets guidance from three broad areas, namely, business, engineering and information technology. These three broad areas carry out analysis every year. The analysis is very useful such that over 87% of graduates get jobs within 6 months of graduation. The emphasis is on technical engineering. The ITE has the state of the art equipment.

Qualification of lecturers in a bachelor degree, which is complemented by three-year industry competency. Before assuming their duties, lecturers are assessed for competency. They also do refresher courses in industry and they are highly paid.


3.4.   Higher Education


There are public and private universities. Public universities receive funding from government but private universities do not. Respective institutions determine curriculum at universities. Admission to universities depends on the performance of a student at secondary level. The performance of a student directs him/her to a certain path.

Funding of universities is tied to targets.  ITE and Polytechnics work with the industry on their curriculum. Universities are autonomous, and the ministry related to universities in terms of funding policies and governance. Each university has a board of trustees appointed by the Minister and the board of trustees are in constant communication with the Minister.

When it comes to technology and teaching, there are always refresher courses for lecturers. Singapore champions to the notion of lifelong learning. Research gets directive from the Research Enterprise Council. The Deputy Prime Minister chairs Research and Development. The Minister sits on the board. There is high quality control at university level. For Singapore, education is for value creation.


3.5.   Singapore Discovery Centre


Singapore Discovery Centre (SDC) is a partner with the National Education (NE) in Singapore and together they are sharing the Singapore story. SDC was established in 1996 and it promotes NE messages to students and Singaporeans through special exhibitions and a myriad of school and outreach programmes. The outreach programmes are updated in to meet the changing the needs of the Ministry of Education (MOE) and the schools. SDC prepares special exhibitions and school programmes for schoolchildren. SDC plans to roll out new school and outreach programmes as well as on-line educational resources. The new programmes will complement the latest changes in the MOE.

In 2017 will be the 20th year since NE was first launched in all schools in May 1997, which aimed to develop national cohesion and the instinct for survival and confidence in the future. The hallmark of the SDC programmes has been experiential learning and supporting MOE’s focus on “Student-Centric, Values Driven” education and the 21st century competences. SDC provides an authentic learning environment for students to develop an entrepreneurial spirit. SDC supports schools events such as annual camps, staff retreats, Parent Volunteers Group, Teacher’s day competitions and teambuilding for emerging schools. SDC provides opportunities for student and teacher attachments as well as collaboration projects to display students’ talents.


3.6.   Issues emanating from the deliberations

  • Education spending is high at about 20 percent of the annual national budget, which subsidises state education and government-assisted private education for Singaporean citizens.
  • It is a criminal offence for parents to fail to enrol their children in school and ensure their regular attendance.
  • Although Malay, Mandarin and Tamil are also official languages, English is the language of instruction for nearly all subjects.
  • Vocational education has been an important part of Singapore’s unique economic planning since 1992.
  • Vocational education is cheap compared to university education, as it is 96% subsidised.
  • In order to avoid mismatch of skills, the government gets guidance from three broad areas, namely, business, engineering and information technology.
  • Qualification of lecturers in a bachelor degree, which is complemented by three-year industry competency and before they assume their duties, lecturers are assessed for competency. They also do refresher courses in industry and they are highly paid.
  • Singapore champions the notion of lifelong learning and for them education is for value creation.
  • The guided tour at SDC leads visitors through a multi-sensory experience that will engage the hearts and minds of people.
  • The video that exhibits the army and its response to attack of the country engages the hearts of the people. The special exhibition video of the army titled “Stronger Together” highlights the constant and evolving future threats that Singapore faces and illustrates how everyone in the country can play a part in Total Defence of the country.
  • Political stability is the bedrock for the success of the country. Only one party has run the country over 50 years.
  • The country emphasises on acceptance rather than tolerance when it comes to different races.
  • When the country accepts immigrants, it looks at the skills they are bringing to the country. Thus, immigrant’s acceptance is driven by economic flavour.
  • All young males from age serve in conscription for two years. Then they are required to serve in the reserve military for 10 years and they are called to serve 14 days per year.
  • Learners come all over the country to learn from the centre.


4.    Malaysia

4.1.   Overview


Malaysia is a federal constitutional monarchy in Southeast Asia, consisting of thirteen states and three federal territories. The capital city is Kuala Lumpur, while Putrajaya is the seat of the federal government. Malaysia gained independence in 1957. Malaysia came into existence on 16 September 1963 as a federation of Malaya, Singapore, Sabah (North Borneo), and Sarawak; in 1965 Singapore withdrew from the federation.

Malaysia is a highly open, upper-middle income economy. From an economy dominated by the production of raw natural resource materials, such as tin and rubber, even as recently as the 1970s, Malaysia today has a diversified economy and has become a leading exporter of electrical appliances, electronic parts and components, palm oil, and natural gas. Less than one percent of Malaysian households live in extreme poverty, and the government’s focus has shifted toward addressing the well-being of the poorest 40 percent of the population (“the bottom 40”).

Malaysia’s near-term economic outlook remains broadly favourable, reflecting a well-diversified economy, despite some risks. Domestic demand is expected to continue to anchor economic growth, supported by continued income growth and stable labour market, while expected improvement in global trade would contribute positively to the external sector. The government have implemented a series of reforms and remains committed to fiscal consolidation, with the fiscal deficit target set at 3 percent of GDP for 2017.


4.2.   Higher Education


The Committee focused on Higher Education in Malaysia. Malaysians have Malaysian Blue Print 2015 – 2025, which is a clear plan on its higher education. There are three focus areas, namely; Blue print developers, engaged stakeholder and external research.

In Malaysia there are 20 public universities, 63 private universities, 36 polytechnics, 34 private university colleges, 398 private colleges, 94 community colleges and 16 higher institutions of excellence. Academic staff is as follows: public higher learning institutions: 31 734; private higher learning institutions: 30 845; polytechnics: 7 564; community colleges: 2 756. There are 18 523 staff with PhD. In total there are 72 899 staff in all higher institutions of learning. Enrolment in public higher learning institutions is 532 049; in private higher learning institutions is 690 889; in polytechnics is 99 551 and in community colleges is 20 232. The total enrolment is 1.34 million. The number of international students is undergraduate level: 104 799 and postgraduate level: 29 482 which gives 134 281.


Malaysia has 5 research universities and 11 comprehensive universities. The research universities have been improving their world ratings over the years such that the top ranked university is number 114 in the world, having improved from 133 in the 2016/17 financial year.  11 subjects are ranked in the top 50 in the world offered by Malaysia universities. Some of these subjects are electronics and electrical engineering (23rd), development studies (26th), mechanical engineering (33rd), chemical engineering (38th), education (41st), hospitality and leisure management (32nd), mineral and mining (35th) and environmental science (49th).


Currently Malaysia has 36% tertiary education enrolment and 4% are enrolled at Masters and PhD level. Malaysia wants to increase tertiary enrolment to 53% and have 8% enrolled at Masters and PhD level. There is 75% graduate employability. The government has come up with ten shifts to transform the system and these are:

  • Holistic, Entrepreneurial and Balanced Graduates: graduates being job creators rather than being job seekers;
  • Enhancing talent excellence by providing four career pathways and these are; educators, researchers, institutional leaders and professional practitioners. Enhance public-private collaboration by appoint CEOs as adjunct professors.
  • Nation of life-long learning. Recognition of Prior Learning where learners are allowed to higher degrees because of their experiential learning. (e.g. a learner with a diploma is allowed to do a Master degree).
  • Quality TVET graduates by having industry led curriculum.
  • Financial stability by having new funding model base on the performance of the system.
  • Empowered governance y having increased autonomy and accountability based on state of readiness.
  • Innovative ecosystem whereby there will be public-private research network and collaborative research in engineering, science and technology.
  • Global prominence by increasing brand visibility and attracting new markets.
  • Globalised online learning by having massive open online courses (MOOC).
  • Transformed delivery by having greater collaboration between private and public higher learning institutions.

4.3.   Issues emanating from the deliberations


  • There is a big drive towards online open learning to increase the number of students in higher education institutions.
  • Recognition of prior learning is implemented to enhance life-long learning.
  • The country strives to have its universities ranked among the top universities globally.
  • There are 11 courses that are ranked in the top 50 courses globally.
  • Universities are divided into teaching and research universities, such that research universities do well in research as they are focused.
  • There is involvement of industry in the curriculum development and it helps to increase chances of employability.
  • The use of CEOs as adjunct professors in universities enhances public-private partnerships.


5.    Conclusion


The study tour by the Select Committee on Education and Recreation was a revelation for the Committee. The main difference between the countries visited and South Africa is the implementation or non-implementation of policies. From the deliberations with the countries, it was clear that when policies are enacted, they are implemented to the letter.

Education is held at high esteem by all the countries as it has value creation, such that all the countries strive for lifelong learning. In some of the countries, it is criminal for parents not to enroll their children at school and schooling is compulsory. In Indonesia, children of poor people do not pay and they get a card to buy school related items. This shows that schooling is promoted such that they would like to curb dropout.

In Singapore, the TVET education system is doing very well such that the employment rate is above 80% within 6 months of graduation. This is as a result of highly qualified lecturers in both theory and practice.

Malaysia had divided universities into research and teaching universities. Maybe South Africa needs to look at this phenomenon to enhance its research and development and to increase the production of PhDs.

What is done by these countries can be achieved by South Africa as well, but it will depend on the political will and ability of the country. Beyond the political will and ability, bureaucrats need to play their role as implementers of policies, and policies need to be monitored closely.



6.    Appreciation


The delegation, led by Hon LL Zwane MP (Chairperson: Select Committee on Education and Recreation), would like to thank all Stakeholders for the support given during the study tour.


Having undertaken the study tour to Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia, as a benchmarking exercise, the Select Committee recommends that the House endorse the study tour report of the Select Committee on Education and Recreation. 



Report to be considered.





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