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Singapore ICT

Singapore ICT

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Published by: wei_de on Mar 17, 2010
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1. Introduction
1.1Importance of Infocomm in Singapore
information and communications technologies (ICT) is seen by many as a key solution toSingapore’s drive toward a knowledge-based economy. During the late 90’s, IT was pushedas a means of competitive advantage with the Deputy Prime Minister, then Dr Tony Tan, saidthat
“The key driving force in a knowledge-based economy is IT, which enables people,activities and industries in many countries and locations to interact in real time through the Internet, PCs, mobile communications and electronic commerce.”
(Tan, 1998).Ten years on, revenues in ICT reached SGD 58.1 billion in 2008, an annual growth of 12.4 percent. Thirty-nine percent of this was domestic, while 61% was export-oriented. Eight three percent of households had access to a computer and 81% had access to the Internet in 2009,up from 80% and 76% respectively in 2008. The number of infocomm personnel grew 1.3%from 139,000 in 2008 to 140,800 in 2009 (IDA, 2010). The ICT Working Group in MTI, intheir recommendation to make Singapore a Digital Hub, had also forecasted ICT to contribute10% to the GDP by 2012. MTI (2005)
1.2 Lifelong Learning in Singapore
With the advent of the Asian Financial crisis in the late 90’s, Singapore’s emphasis onlifelong learning at a national level to gain momentum. Lifelong learning was view as ameans to help workers remain competitive and contributive to the workforce. In 1999, Dr Lee Boon Yang, then the Manpower Minister, said:
“The key concept of M21 (Manpower21)is "School of Lifelong Learning" which will enable Singaporeans to learn continuously evenafter they have left the formal education system to join the workforce.”
(Lee, 1999). Theembracing of the lifelong learning concept and its emphasis was also present in the 1999 budget speech which made tax provision for individuals by raising tax deduction cap for lifelong learning and skills upgrading. (MOF, 1999). .There is no doubt that the advances in ICT bring tremendous benefits and the coupling of ICTto facilitate access to lifelong learning seemed to be a perfect match.This paper will begin by providing an overview of Singapore’s ICT landscape and journey. Itwill then examine programmes that apply ICT to lifelong learning by using Faure’s model to provide a diagrammatic perspective of these efforts.
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While ICT may be a useful tool, it can solve some problems and but on the other hand, itcreates others. Hence, there will be definitions of these effects, namely, the digital divide,social inclusion/ exclusion and digital inclusiveness. This paper will provide an analysis of the issues arising from ICT including (i) access to ICT, (ii) application of ICT to socio-economic determinants, and (iii) the effects of learning through the use of ICT in other countries. In conclusion, this paper hopes to elucidate the unintended consequence of mass access toICT and how the government in Singapore “fair” with respect to other countries in responseto some of these issues.
2.Singapore Infocomm
This section provides an overview of Singapore’s infocomm journey and serves as a backdrop to the ICT and lifelong learning developments in the country.
2.1Infocomm Agencies
The key agencies dealing with ICT in Singapore is the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA,www.ida.gov.sg) is the infocomm industry champion, the nationalinfocomm master planner and developer, and the government CIO. Its strategic goal is toattract foreign investment and sustain long-term GDP growth through innovative infocommtechnology development, deployment, and usage, to enhance the country’s global economiccompetitiveness. Other agencies with infocomm responsibility are: the Media DevelopmentAuthority of Singapore (MDA,www.mda.gov.sg) which is to promote the growth of themedia industry and manage content to protect core values and safeguard consumers’ interests;the Ministry of Information, Communications, and the Arts (MICA,www.mica.gov.sg) - thesupervising ministry for the IDA and the MDA - which aims to develop Singapore as a globalcity for information, communications, and the arts in order to build a creative economy andconnected society and the Economic Development Board (EDB,www.edb.gov.sg ) is the lead government agency for planning and executing economic strategies to enhanceSingapore’s position as a global hub for business and investment - the infocomm and mediasector is one of the industry sectors covered by the EDB. Additionally, Singapore
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universities and polytechnics each have infocomm schools and faculties that provides trainingand development of resources needed by the industry.For purpose of this paper, infocomm programmes related to IDA will be reviewed. As theeducation sector is a key receiver of the national ICT efforts, MOE programmes will also behighlighted.
2.2Infocomm Journey
Singapore’s infocomm thrust began during the early 80s with the National ComputerizationPlan which was to computerise the civil service. The return on investment through this planwould be manpower savings, operational efficiency improvement, and better informationsupport for decision-making, pioneer services for the public. During the mid-80s, the focusshifted to collaboration and data sharing amongst government agencies resulting in thecreation of data hubs: land, people, and establishment through the National IT Plan. In theearly 90s the IT2000 plan was to make Singapore an intelligent island by leveraging IT toimprove the quality of life, economic competitiveness, and human capital realization and thisthrust was to position Singapore as a global IT hub. The late 90s saw the birth of Infocomm21 where the government began creating an infocomm-savvy citizenry to transformSingapore to a vibrant and dynamic Infocomm capital. The early 21st Century, IDA hasreleased the 21st century Infocomm blueprint called ‘iN2015’ where the future trend will bethe confluence of “info-nano-bio” technology sectors and applications. (Lim, 2001)Today, the Singapore ICT thrusts are in all sectors of society predominantly through IDAwith iN2015 (IDA, 2006). MOE also has a specific ICT thrust - the Master Plan for ICT -which is into its third plan since its inception in 1997 (MOE, 2008)
2.3Infocomm in Education
“Governments in developed countries all over the world recognise that the ability of their  people to continually master new technologies will have a critical impact on their future global competitiveness. These governments know that education is the key.”
Teo Chee Heanat the Launch of the Masterplan for IT in Education (Teo, 1997).Since then, ICT has been pushed forth in the education. In 2005, BackPack.NET waslaunched to provide a platform for interaction and sharing of experiences and ideas among
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