This post on gifted education in Singapore is the next in an unofficial series featuring the Asian Tiger Economies that head the 2009 PISA rankings – and are amongst the ‘high-performing jurisdictions’ examined during England’s current National Curriculum Review.
It builds on a March 2011 post in my ‘Behind the Gifted News’ series which asked whether England would copy Singapore’s Integrated Programme. (More later about how the Integrated Programme fits within wider gifted education provision.)
Previous reviews have addressed gifted education in Hong Kong and South Korea. Now it is time to turn our attention to one of the educational powerhouses of South East Asia. For Singapore finished 5th in the PISA 2009 league table for reading, 4th for science and 2nd for mathematics.
My analysis of high achievers’ performance in PISA shows that, in 2009, the percentage of Singaporean students achieving levels 5 or 6 was 15.7% in reading, 19.9% in science and 35.6% in maths. (The percentages achieving level 6 were 2.6%, 4.6% and 15.6% respectively.)
Only Shanghai performed better (with the sole exception of New Zealand which just edged ahead of Singapore on reading). For comparison, the figures for level 5 and level 6 performance in England were 8%, 11.4% and 9.9% respectively.
Such exceptional achievement is testament to an education system that demonstrates all-round excellence, perfectly exemplified by a powerful gifted education programme that has gradually extended its reach over a 30-year lifespan.
But Singapore’s provision is far from perfect, as we shall see. Numbers are also very small in comparative terms, so there are big questions over scalability, but few other countries – if any – can rival the full richness and diversity of Singapore’s offer.
That diversity, as well as the longevity of Singapore’s investment in gifted education, results in an accretion of complexity, so this post is necessarily long and detailed. It is divided into three parts:
- Part 1 covers the history, purpose and management of Singaporean gifted education;
- Part 2 will look at selection for the Gifted Education Programme (GEP), will set out in detail the full range of primary and secondary provision and examine professional development and support;
- Part 3 includes more detail about provision in exemplar primary GEP schools, secondary schools offering School-Based Gifted Education (SBGE) and the various independent Specialised Schools. It also reviews evidence of the impact of the overall programme and how it has been received within Singapore.
Before we get on to gifted education, it is essential to sketch in as context a brief outline of Singapore’s demographics and a more thorough treatment of its school system.
Singapore, located at the Southernmost tip of the Malay Peninsula, has an area of just 710 km2 but its population in 2011 was 5.184m (3.257m of them Singapore citizens). This gives the third highest population density in the world. Singapore comprises 63 islands and there is significant land reclamation to create more space (the original land mass was only 581 km2).
Singapore was ruled by the British from 1824, having been established as an East India Company trading settlement a few years beforehand. It became self-governing in 1959 and independent in 1965. It operates as a parliamentary republic.
It is also wealthy. The average per capita GDP in 2011 is estimated at just under $60K. About three-quarters of residents are of Chinese descent but there are also significant Malay, Indian and Eurasian minorities. There are four official languages: English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil. English is the language of instruction in state-run schools.
The 2011 Education Statistics Digest confirms that there are just 356 schools in Singapore – 173 primary and 155 secondary schools.
There are some 257,000 pupils in the primary sector and 196,000 in the secondary sector and the total pupil population is around 511,000. In the first 10 years within the system – from Primary 1 to Secondary 4 – the total size of each year group varies between 39,000 and 53,000.
It helps to begin with a diagram, for the Singaporean Education system is highly complex, especially given the small population it serves.
- A six-year course of primary education with a core of English, mother tongue language and maths plus science, social studies, civics and moral education, music, arts and crafts, health education and PE. There are also cross-curricular activities and a community involvement programme. The first four years are regarded as a foundation stage, while Primary 5-6 is described as an orientation stage.
- During the latter, a system of subject-based banding means that pupils are taught English, mother tongue, maths and science at either ‘foundation’ or a higher ‘standard’ level. (Such setting has replaced the more rigidly streamed approach that preceded it.) This is supplemented by Learning Support for those needing extra help in English and maths and the Gifted Education Programme (GEP).
- The latter consists of an advanced curriculum offered in designated primary schools from Primary 4 to Primary 6 inclusive. Additional enrichment activities are also offered to pupils with subject-specific strengths but outside the GEP. Primary education concludes with the Primary School Leaving Examination (PLSE).
- In secondary education, from Secondary 1 to Secondary 4, pupils typically follow one of three different tracks or pathways: an Express Course leading to GCE O level examinations; a Normal (Academic) Course leading to GCE N level examinations – those who do well in the latter may opt to take O levels after one further year; or a Normal (Technical) Course leading to GCSE N level examinations, including subjects ‘with technical or practical emphases’.
- The various options have different curricular components, but students will typically study English, mother tongue, maths, science and the humanities plus Knowledge Skills, Life Skills, Cross-Curricular Activities and a range of electives in languages, art and music, some of which are only accessible in particular institutions.
- Some 10% of students pursue the Integrated Programme (IP). This spans secondary and subsequent junior college education (Years 5 and 6), but skips the national examinations at the end of Secondary 4. Time that would otherwise be spent on preparing for GCE O levels is dedicated to ‘broader learning experiences’. This option is designed for those progressing to university who ‘could do well in a less structured environment’. In 2012, a 6-year IP beginning in Secondary 1 is offered in 11 secondary schools although in four of them students complete Secondary 5-6 in a partnering Junior College. Students can also apply directly to schools for entry to a 4-year IP beginning in Secondary 3 and one further institution offers only this 4-year option. Further details are set out in my March 2011 post.
- Students formerly within the secondary GEP now undertake School-Based Gifted Education (SBGE). The Ministry’s Secondary Education booklet says SBGE is offered within the IP and Academic (Express) tracks, adding that seven of the schools that offer IP have SBGE incorporated within it, while five schools offer the O level track specifically for GEP students. However, the gifted education pages on the Ministry’s website mention only the IP provision, suggesting that the Academic (Express) option may now have been phased out. Either way, secondary options for graduates of the primary GEP are more limited than they first appear, though some may attend a specialised school (see below) or an alternative independent school.
- Most students will progress to a post-secondary institution which may be: a Junior College (2 years) or Centralised Institute (3 years) providing an academic pathway for those with the requisite O levels that leads to GCE A level examinations; a Polytechnic providing a diploma course in fields such as engineering, applied sciences and business studies; the Institute of Technical Education providing courses which allow students to progress to Polytechnic diplomas; or an arts college offering diplomas in visual and performing arts. Those attending Junior College or a Polytechnic will typically progress to university.
- A few new Specialised Schools have been established to offer alternative vocational routes. There are other selective specialised schools in the independent sector, including the School of Science and Technology Singapore, the NUS High School of Mathematics and Science, the Singapore Sports School and the School of the Arts. More about these in Part 3.
The Origins and Development of the GEP
Singapore’s Ministry of Education website provides extensive coverage of the GEP – material which I have used as the primary source for this post, though amplified and supported by the full range of other information available online.
The historical timeline provided by the Ministry is unusually comprehensive, amply demonstrating the gradual evolution of the GEP and related provision over three decades.
The GEP arose from the findings of a 1981 mission, led by Education Minister Tay Eng Soon, to review other countries’ gifted education programmes. Israel, the Soviet Union, China and the United States are specifically mentioned.
Two years later a concept paper ‘The Gifted Project’’ was prepared by Phua Swee Liang (who subsequently became the second wife of the Deputy Prime Minister). It proposed an enrichment-based programme, as opposed to an accelerative approach, broadly following an Israeli model built around gifted classes within normal schools.
The mission and concept paper provided additional and now familiar educational arguments for the introduction of the Programme, including: the risk that gifted learners would be under-challenged and so would underachieve; the risk that they might become an ‘underclass’ if their psychological and emotional needs were not catered for; and the case, grounded in equality of opportunity, for providing them with an education tailored to meet their particular needs. Gifted learners were presented as having special needs to which the education system should respond.
A Special Project Unit – precursor of the Ministry’s Gifted Education Branch – was formed to bring the Programme to fruition. It was responsible for identifying participants, selecting teachers, preparing curriculum materials and monitoring progress.
In 1984 a pilot project was launched in two primary and two secondary schools. Further schools were added in succeeding years until, by 2001, there were nine primary and seven secondary schools involved.
The initial student cohort consisted of 100 pupils in Primary 4 and 100 in Secondary 1, each identified as the top 0.25% of their year group. By 2004, the total number of participants had increased to 2,400.
A 2001 essay by Mark Lim Shan-Loong, now a lecturer at Ngee An Polytechnic in Singapore, provides useful background on the origins of the GEP, drawing on interviews with several of the key players during this period.
He identifies geographical, economic, demographic and political factors behind the establishment of the GEP, including:
- A growing need for highly skilled workers to help Singapore compete economically in an increasingly globalised environment. A New Educational System (NES) was introduced in 1979 to improve educational standards across the board. The 1979 Goh Report had called for a differentiated curriculum so students could be taught at the pace appropriate to them. The introduction of the GEP was set firmly in this context.
- As GDP increased in the 1960s and 70s, Singapore became able to afford to invest in the development of human capital, the only substantive natural resource at its disposal.
- As standards of living increased, Singaporeans also developed higher educational expectations. The differentiation provided through the GEP was to ‘meet the needs of an affluent society that expected and could afford a better education for its children’.
- The GEP was also introduced partly to develop the future political leadership of Singapore.
Another essay available online, produced by Gary Lim for a 2002 University of Alberta Graduate Student Conference, broadly supports this analysis. Lim examines the economic and social context surrounding the introduction of the GEP, tracing the shift from a ‘one size fits all’ Education for All policy towards a differentiated system described as ‘Ability-Driven Education’. He argues that:
- The old system was deemed to have failed the gifted learner, not least because average class sizes of 42 inhibited effective differentiation.
- The introduction of the GEP coincided with a period of sustained economic prosperity. The Government realised that it needed future leaders to steer the country through its next stage of economic and social development.
- This coincided with the emergence of a Singaporean middle class who were attracted by the prestige of their children belonging to the GEP and alive to the benefits it might confer through their future advancement.
- The GEP was consistent with Singaporean belief in meritocracy, combining Western views on the rights of the individual with the Confucian ideal of putting family and state before one’s personal interests:
‘The Government encouraged Singaporeans to believe that the GEP catered to the rights of individuals to receive the best education that they could obtain and that such a program would eventually result in financial progress for their family as well as economic development for the country.’
Consequently there was little debate or dissent.
The new policy received clear support from the top of the Government who were determined that it would succeed. As a result, it was driven through by a dedicated Special Unit which interviewed prospective teachers to establish ‘their suitability and interest towards promoting the cause of gifted education’. Pilot schools were chosen from those ‘known to have shown very keen support for the Ministry’s endeavours’ with dynamic principals who could make things happen.
Reflecting on the origins of the GEP, Mark Lim Shan-Loong describes the principles upon which the new Programme was based:
- Provision through self-contained GEP classes within maintained schools – with GEP classes constituting no more than a third of the total number of classes per school – so participants could benefit from wider socialisation with their peers;
- An enrichment-based approach, covering the mainstream curriculum in greater breadth and depth, as opposed to an accelerative approach enabling participants to undertake the mainstream curriculum at a faster pace. This incorporated higher-order thinking skills, collaborative and discovery learning.
- Selection at age 9 (in Primary 3) steering a middle way between the advantages of early intervention and allowing younger pupils to become acclimatised to schooling while those from disadvantaged backgrounds have an opportunity to catch up their peers.
Introduction of the Integrated Programme
The next key milestone in the Ministry’s timeline is the introduction of the first Integrated Programmes in 2004. But, as we have seen from my previous post on the IP, it originated in the recommendations within a 2002 Report from the Junior/College/Upper Secondary Education Review Committee.
Initially three schools introduced IP for Secondary 1-3 and three schools for Secondary 4-6. But, as noted above, GEP participants were corralled in particular classes in particular schools to access a GEP version of IP called School Based Gifted Education (SBGE).
Depending on gender, they could choose between a 6-year ‘all-through’ IP option, then offered at the Chinese High School, Nanyang Girls’ High School, Raffles Girls’ School, Raffles Institution and the independent Anglo-Chinese School. The latter culminated in the IB, while all the remaining courses led to A level.
Four secondary schools continued to offer the GEP to pupils not opting for the IP, two providing it only in Secondary 1 and 2 and two more from Secondary 1-4.
These arrangements were refined over the next four years, with slight variations in the mix of schools offering the GEP and SBGE (though it’s not entirely clear whether the former still exists today).
The 2002 Report makes clear that the IP is designed for the top 10% of the relevant cohorts, on the basis that these will be the students progressing to university. (The Report notes that 92% of those amongst the top 5% of PLSE candidates and 86% of those in the next 5% typically attend university in Singapore.)
We know from a recent Singaporean Parliamentary Question that approximately 3,400 students have been admitted to the IP each year since 2004, about 20% of them at Secondary 3.
The answer also reveals that, between 2004 and 2006, about 6% on average withdrew from the IP before their final year, some because they moved abroad. It adds that ‘almost all’ of those who completed the IP qualified for publicly-funded universities in Singapore.
During a Parliamentary debate on the 2002 Report, the Education Minister was explicit that part of the justification for introducing the IP was to combat perceived elitism:
‘That is the basic point. We need more outstanding Singaporeans in all fields – Science, Mathematics, law, diplomacy, arts. We need more outstanding Singaporeans to take us forward. We need to groom them as best as we can, nurture a spirit of Singaporeaness in them and maximise their contributions to society. So, let us build this diversity into the mainstream and seek to contain social elitism as we do so.
The Integrated Programme schools will actually offer us more opportunities to guard against social elitism than our existing school system does. They will have more time. If you look at the proposals that have been put forward by the schools that are applying to run the Integrated Programmes, they indeed intend to spend a lot more time on developing leadership and commitment to the community. So, this is not a change that is intrinsically going to lead to a more elitist system. If anything, it offers an opportunity for the top academic talents to develop stronger instincts of Singaporeaness and commitment to their fellow citizens.’
A 2004 speech by the Parliamentary Secretary (Education) to a GEP 20th Anniversary Reunion Dinner offers a slightly different rationale, citing a need to ‘allow for diversity’ and ‘cater for a greater variety of needs in the education of the gifted’.
He also stresses the importance of moving with the times rather than remaining locked into an outdated system:
‘The GEP, having evolved to this point, should be prepared to adapt further to the demands of the time. What might have worked well for us in the past may be superseded by new best practices. Singapore’s education system can only stay ahead and serve our children well if students, parents and educators are open to change and new challenges.’
The IP was not the only reform during this period as another 20th Anniversary speech, this time by the Minister of Education, makes clear:
‘We lifted the cap on the number of GEP students entering each secondary school from this year, so as to give gifted students the freedom to choose from the range of programmes available. The IP schools will also have the flexibility to identify and select additional students to join their gifted programmes…
….The introduction of specialized independent schools opens up other new branches in gifted education. The Sports School and School for the Arts will provide a higher level of resources and expertise, and a specially tailored curriculum, for students with exceptional talents in these areas. The NUS High School of Maths and Science, which will open its doors next year, will introduce a new model of education for the intellectually gifted. It will offer a whole school approach to developing students with exceptional talents in mathematics and science. It will offer a curriculum and assessment system quite different from the mainstream, allowing them full rein to develop their special interests and abilities, although it will share with the mainstream the desire to provide students with an all-round education.
…Together, these programmes will provide a wider array of choices for our intellectually gifted pupils. The new programmes will remove some current constraints, particularly in the way standardised assessment shapes teaching and learning, and help us evolve new models of curriculum and delivery for the intellectually gifted.’
Recent Developments – the Last Five Years
Further significant reforms followed in 2007 and 2008 with the introduction of a Revised Gifted Education Framework, which also impacted on the primary sector.
In 2007, while 9 primary schools continued to provide self-contained GEP classes for those selected into it, efforts were made to develop a slightly broader approach. Two schools introduced pilot schemes for the integration of GEP pupils within normal Primary 4 classes, while the remaining seven introduced ‘specific measures to promote interaction’.
In the case of the former, an integrated class of GEP and non-GEP pupils was taught together for all subjects outside the ‘GEP core curriculum’ consisting of English language, maths and science. In the latter, separate classes continued but GEP and non-GEP pupils were taught together in arts and crafts, civics and moral education, Chinese, music and PE.
All 9 schools would ‘ continue to provide enhanced opportunities for greater integration through schoolwide activities, CCAs and community involvement programmes’.
The precise details of integration are set out more fully in a Ministry press release.
Centrally-organised activities were also introduced to support High-Ability Primary 4 learners outside the GEP in English, maths and science. These activities were eventually extended to pupils in Primary 5.
(These High Ability pupils are described elsewhere as the top 2-5% of the cohort, so still a limited group by comparison with the 10% or so supported through the secondary IP.)
By the end of 2008, stand-alone secondary GEP options were entirely phased out, leaving only the SBGE provision (and we have noted above that SBGE may now be confined to the Integrated Programme (IP) track).
SBGE gave schools greater flexibility over curriculum design, though still supported by officials from the Ministry’s Gifted Education Branch, who continue to provide consultancy on request but also conduct regular evaluations to ensure the level of challenge is appropriate.
The wider context for these reforms is provided by a 2007 Speech by the Minister for Education entitled ‘Having Every Child Succeed’:
‘We are injecting fluidity into our ability-based system of education. The fundamentals of our school system are sound. We recognise different abilities and have students take different courses of study so that they can do well, and do not get demotivated in school. That’s a strength of the Singapore school system, and it has allowed our students to perform at a higher average level than most others.’
The current phase of reform:
‘helps many more students recognize that they can be strong in some areas, even if they lack prowess in other things’.
On the development of the GEP:
‘We are also seeing greater interplay between the Gifted Education Programme (GEP) and the rest of the school. The Integrated Programme (IP) schools are running talent-focused programmes at the secondary level, enabling both GEP and other students with a talent in a particular field to work together. We are moving towards the same arrangement in our primary schools, creating more opportunities for GEP students to learn and interact with others, and develop rounded characters from young.’
This is placed firmly in the context of meritocracy and social mobility:
‘By investing in quality across the board, we make sure that Singapore remains a place where it is your ability and effort that determine success, not who your parents are or where you start off from. We must remain a place where education is a path for social mobility, from one generation to the next.’
But also references the selective nature of the Singaporean education system:
‘Selection is by talent and ability. It is a rarity in state school systems, in fact quite incorrect politically in most countries. But it is what motivates and gives opportunity to every bright and talented kid from a less advantaged background. ..
We have an ability-based system, but it is one that opens up ladders all along the way, so that it is driven by each student’s aspirations…. We must keep enough flexibility in the system, keep open the bridges and ladders and make sure there is always space for aspirations, so that every Singaporean feels encouraged to try hard and go further….
But still, we see significant mobility taking place through education today, and more so than in most other countries. Students who come from the bottom 1/3 of home backgrounds (in terms of housing type and parents’ education levels) have a 50% chance of making it into the top 2/3 of PSLE performance in our primary schools. They also have a 50% chance of being in the top 2/3 of performers at the ‘O’-levels in our secondary schools.’
This time round there seems to be some reluctance on the part of politicians to acknowledge concerns about elitism, but other evidence shows these are still substantial. A 2007 Straits Times article argues that these changes were prompted by the:
‘long-held criticism that the GEP is elitist and churns out students who have problems relating to their non-GEP peers’.
A 2009 Parliamentary Question asks about the success of the integration policy in the primary sector. Part of the response is:
‘All nine GEP schools have provided positive feedback on the intermingling initiative. Both pupils and parents have found intermingling beneficial.
With GEP and mainstream pupils spending more curriculum time together, engaging in hands-on activities as well as exchange of ideas and personal experiences, pupils have developed meaningful friendships. For example, as pupils are in mixed PE classes, they had to form mixed teams to represent the classes in competitions at the School Sports Day, and this has been invaluable in building team work.
Schools have also made it a point to organise pupils in mixed groups for school camps, outings and Community Involvement Programme (CIP) projects. This also provides opportunities for both groups to have a better understanding of their strengths and weaknesses, and learn to appreciate each other’s talents.
We are encouraged by the positive feedback, and will continue with our efforts to promote intermingling of GEP and mainstream pupils.’
Gifted Education Today: The Government Perspective
The historical development of Singapore’s provision clearly demonstrates a gradual trend away from discrete GEP classes for a tiny minority of exceptionally able pupils towards a more balanced, multi-stranded approach that caters for a significantly wider range of high-ability learners.
So how does the Government define the core purpose and aims of the GEP as it now operates in Singapore’s schools?
Unusually, the Ministry’s website publishes a full set of business statements for the Programme. It is possible to trace within these some of the rationale for the original introduction of the GEP, as well as traces of the reform agenda.
There is a mission statement:
‘Our mission is to provide leadership in the education of the intellectually gifted. We are committed to nurturing gifted individuals to their full potential for the fulfilment of self and the betterment of society’
Also a vision statement:
‘Our vision is to make Gifted Education in Singapore a model of excellence. We will achieve this vision by providing professional expertise and exemplary resources to develop intellectual rigour, humane values and creativity in gifted youths to prepare them for responsible leadership and service to country and society’
Each of these seem designed more for internal consumption by GEP staff rather than for participants, their families and other stakeholders. The same applies to a more learner-focused aim that deploys some of the same terminology as the vision statement:
‘To develop intellectual rigour, humane values and creativity in gifted youths to prepare them for responsible leadership and service to country and society.’
The italicised emphasis here is noticeably different to the aims typically articulated for similar programmes in the West.
A set of equally learner-focused goals includes terminology somewhat more familiar to Western ears, as well as similar references to leadership and national service:
- to develop intellectual depth and higher level thinking
- to nurture productive creativity
- to develop attitudes for self-directed lifelong learning
- to enhance aspirations for individual excellence and fulfilment
- to develop a strong social conscience and commitment to serve society and nation
- to develop moral values and qualities for responsible leadership
Finally a statement of rationale is set squarely in the context of the Ministry’s wider commitment to provide ‘an education of quality and relevance’ for each and every pupil. It offers two reasons for the existence of the programme:
- The educational case, which is expressed in the following terms (the emphasis is mine:
‘children have varying abilities and it is not a sound practice to give every child the same education and expect him/her to move at the same pace as his/her peers.The intellectually gifted need a high degree of mental stimulation. This need may not be met in the mainstream classroom and the gifted child may become mediocre, indifferent or disruptive in class’
(Interestingly, this includes some recognition of the benefits of an accelerative approach that seems slightly out of kilter with the enrichment-driven rhetoric elsewhere.)
- The wider national benefit, expressed in terms of investment in the human capital upon which Singapore relies for ‘progress and prosperity’.
How is the GEP Managed?
The Gifted Education pages of the Ministry’s website contain no information about the staffing and structure of its Gifted Education Branch, but further detail can be found within the Government’s online directory.
This shows that the Branch is located within the Ministry’s Curriculum Planning and Development Division. It is led by a Deputy Director, Dr Tan Bee Geok. She is supported by a Principal Specialist, Dr Quek Chwee Geok and two Assistant Directors, Chan Mei Yuen and Chng Poh Teen.
Altogether, exactly 40 officials are listed, including 14 senior specialists and 22 officers. There is also a general office which presumably contains additional administrative support staff.
A presentation given at the 2010 Asia-Pacific Conference describes the role of the Branch as:
In relation to the primary sector:
- Identifying and selecting GEP participants
- Selection, training and mentoring of teachers
- Developing curriculum materials
- Monitoring the implementation of GEP
- Organising programmes for high-ability learners
And within the secondary sector:
- Providing consultancy and training for schools
- Organising Special Programmes to develop students’ domain-specific talents
- Approving funding
- Facilitating the development of exceptionally gifted learners
- Conducting research and evaluation
Such a high level of Government staffing for gifted education must be unprecedented and unique. It is all the more astounding considering the size of Singapore’s education system, and the very small minority of Singapore’s pupils that are served by the Gifted Education Programme and related initiatives.
Taking the statistics available online, there are 2,400 students within the Primary GEP and 3,400 admitted each year to the IP (I have not been able to discover how many within the IP are also undertaking SBGE). That gives a total number of about 23,000 learners. Even if we assume that 5% of older primary pupils benefit from High Ability activities, the total number of beneficiaries cannot be much in excess of 30,000.
The staff to learner ratio for Gifted Education Branch alone is therefore about 1:750. I have found no information about the number of teachers working exclusively with gifted learners and the significant proportion of the time of other educators that must be dedicated to meeting their needs.
The Ministry is similarly coy about the cost of this staffing, as well as the size of the support budget for the GEP and related activities. All I can find is one recent Parliamentary answer that mentions an annual programme grant for primary GEP participants of 53 Singapore dollars per pupil!
It is almost certain, however, that Singapore’s per capita investment in its gifted learners is the highest in the world by some considerable margin.
We have come to the end of Part 1 of this post. In Part 2 we will take a closer look at how primary and secondary gifted education provision operates in Singapore today.