Singapore is a young nation of just 50 years, marked by rapid progress with a strong academic infrastructure, vibrant financial and technology hub. Driven by Confucian values and led by an amazing visionary team of founding leaders, Singapore is a technology powerhouse to be reckoned with.
It is no surprise then that the Government announced its ambitious goal to make Singapore the world’s first Smart Nation by 2030. Lee Hsien Long’s speech at the Smart Nation launch on November 24th 2014 depicted Singapore as an outstanding metropolis, a nation where people would live meaningful and fulfilled lives, enabled seamlessly by technology, offering exciting opportunities for all. It went on to say that our daily lives would be interconnected with networks of sensors and smart devices, again enabling us to live sustainably and comfortably.
This exciting development for Singapore may mean some communities are in danger of being left behind. Those who do not have access or the means to learn technology would struggle to keep up with the rapid change. Currently, 20% of Singapore’s population live in relative poverty with respect to how much money is required for a certain household to afford the basic necessities to survive in life and to avoid “social exclusion”. Social exclusion means not having items such as a handphone, internet connection and or computer – which enable you to communicate, receive information, and allow you to move up the career ladder.
Today, the Discovering Without Borders STEM workshops are inspiring children to learn about drone technology, empowering them to be STEM entrepreneurs, broadening their young mind to be engineers who want to design global solutions and much more. We are opening doors to marginalized communities by ensuring they have equal access and opportunity to learn STEM through subsidies for families that have special needs children, single parent families and those who fall in the low income group. We have reached over 700 children through running workshops, including for parents and community development centres. We are partnering with major organizations who share the same spirit for STEM innovation.
There is no doubt in my mind that Singapore will reach its goal to become the world’s first Smart Nation – and I have every confidence that every child we reach today will be tomorrow’s future innovators, leaders and change makers who will program the technology, engineer the sensor devices and design the infrastructure to help Singapore be even better than what our current leaders imagined her to be.