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Singapore Budget 2008
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Ministry of Education (MOE)

MOE seeks to provide opportunities for our young to realise their potential, through a high quality school education, and a diverse post-secondary and tertiary education sector that offers different pathways. We will provide our children with a balanced and well-rounded education, to help them discover their talents and realise their full potential, and nurture them into committed citizens. Our schools, the Institute of Technical Education, polytechnics and universities strive to bring out the best in our young, and provide them with a strong foundation in the knowledge and skills necessary for work and life. A total budget of $8,037 million has been voted to MOE in FY2008 to achieve this mission.

MOE heavily subsidises the operations of schools and tertiary institutions:

  • $3,832 million to subsidise the operations of primary schools, special education schools, secondary schools, independent schools, centralised institute and junior colleges;
  • $1,824 million to subsidise the operations of the 3 Autonomous Universities;
  • $924 million to subsidise the operations of the 5 polytechnics and 2 arts institutions; and
  • $272 million to subsidise the operations of Institute of Technical Education (ITE).

For FY2008, MOE aims to achieve the following outcomes:

  • Preparing Our Students for the Future - To prepare our students for the future by providing additional pathways to cater to students with different strengths and interests.
  • Levelling up Opportunities - To continue building on current efforts to help students from disadvantaged backgrounds level up through education.
  • Enhancing Opportunities in the University Sector – To provide more opportunities for Singaporeans to receive quality university education and continuing education and training.
  • Strengthening Singapore as an Education Hub – To strengthen and improve standards in the private education sector.
  • Building a Quality Education Service - To ensure that the Education Service continues to attract and retain good teachers and school leaders.

Preparing Our Students for the Future

Education is the key to maintaining Singapore’s competitive edge. MOE has in recent years introduced various initiatives to bring about greater flexibility and diversity in our education system to cater to the different needs of students. We will continue to do more in these aspects, so that our students will be well prepared for the future ahead.

Establishing a New School of Science and Technology

From January 2010, students will have a further pathway to choose from, when MOE’s new School of Science and Technology (SST) takes in its first batch of students. The SST will be established as a Specialised Independent School, complementing the NUS High School of Mathematics and Science, the Singapore Sports School and the School of the Arts in adding further diversity to our education landscape.

MOE will collaborate with Ngee Ann Polytechnic (NP) in setting up the school, and tap on its expertise to develop the SST’s programmes. The SST will also partner the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in providing learning opportunities for its students. The SST will aim to provide capable students with a strong foundation in both academic and applied learning, giving them the option of progressing to either the junior colleges or polytechnics before going on to university.

The SST will offer a four-year programme leading to the Singapore-Cambridge GCE ‘O’ Level examination. It will teach regular academic subjects and offer students a range of options in applied areas related to technology, media and design. The school will implement innovative teaching methods that will help students better appreciate the real-world relevance of what they learn.

The SST will also be the sixth school in the FutureSchools@Singapore programme. It will leverage fully on ICT on a school-wide level to enhance the delivery of its specialised curriculum.

The SST will select students under the Direct School Admission (DSA) exercise through interviews, portfolio assessment and selection tests. The school will admit up to 200 students for its first Secondary 1 intake in 2010. Interested students can apply for admission through DSA in June 2009. In addition, from 2012, the school will admit up to 50 students at the Secondary 3 level each year.

Levelling up Opportunities

For students who come from disadvantaged backgrounds, MOE will continue to help them meet the challenges in school and prepare for life. We will ensure that they start off with a firm footing in school and have access to various forms of support as they progress.

Enhancing the Quality of Pre-School Education

Enhancing the Quality of Pre-School Education

Since 2000, MOE has introduced various measures to improve the quality of pre-school education, such as developing a curriculum framework, introducing training and qualification requirements for teachers, accrediting teacher training courses and raising the English proficiency of pre-school teachers. In recent years, we have also put in place more strategies to increase participation in pre-school. These include partnering with community agencies to reach out to children not attending pre-school and providing Focused Language Assistance in Reading (FLAiR) in more kindergartens to help children from disadvantaged families acquire foundational skills in English.

As the pre-school landscape continues to evolve, we have to ensure that all our children, especially those from lower-income families, are able to access good quality pre-school education and have a good foundation for learning before they attend primary school.

MOE will therefore introduce two new measures to further improve the quality of pre-school education in kindergartens and childcare centres:

  1. Raising minimum qualifications for pre-school teachers.

    MOE will raise the minimum qualifications for pre-school teachers further as follows:
    1. Cat A requirements: From January 2009, all new pre-school teachers must have 5 ‘O’ Level credits, including English Language1 , and a Diploma in Pre-School Education-Teaching (DPE-T). The DPE-T can be obtained within four years of joining the pre-school sector.
    2. Cat B requirements: From January 2013, existing pre-school teachers must obtain an ‘O’ Level credit in English Language or pass an English Language proficiency test, and obtain a DPE-T, to teach K1 and K2 classes. There will be no change to the requirements for existing pre-school teachers to teach pre-nursery or nursery classes.
    In addition, each pre-school centre should have at least 75% of all its teachers (including K1/K2 and pre-nursery/nursery teachers together) meeting Cat A and Cat B requirements by January 2013.

    To assist pre-school teachers in meeting these goals, MOE will improve on the quality of teacher training by further raising standards in current pre-school teacher training courses. MOE and MCYS will provide bursaries for pre-school teachers to undergo academic and professional upgrading. MOE and MCYS will also work with professional bodies to present awards to outstanding pre-school teachers. These awards will help to identify and build up a pool of teacher mentors to develop the teaching expertise in the pre-school sector.

    1New teachers who obtained C5 or C6 in O-Level EL would need to pass an EL proficiency test.

  2. Quality Assurance and Accreditation Framework.

    MOE and MCYS will develop a voluntary quality assurance and accreditation framework and implement it from January 2011. Through this framework, pre-school providers will be able to benchmark their education outcomes through self-appraisal and external assessment. Pre-school providers that meet specified standards may then apply to receive accreditation status.

    To assist pre-schools in these efforts, pre-schools will be provided with curriculum resources such as a curriculum planning guide. MOE and MCYS will also provide grants to non-profit pre-schools to purchase teaching and learning resources such as books and educational software. All pre-school providers may also apply for innovation grants to innovate and experiment so as to enhance their quality of teaching and learning.

Helping students who are at-risk of dropping-out stay in school

Reducing Attrition in Schools

The dropout rate in Singapore is now at 1.6%, and has been reducing considerably from 5.3% in 1997 and 3.6% in 2002. The decrease has reflected improvements at all levels and amongst students of all ethnic groups.

The significant progress reflects the success of MOE’s initiatives and our schools’ efforts to address the needs of students who are at-risk and help them remain in school. Some of these measures include the Learning Support Programme (LSP) for English Language and Mathematics at Primary 1 and 2, the deployment of Full Time School Counsellors to schools and the student re-admission policy for Out-of-School Youth.

Maintaining this low dropout rate and improving it further will require more work over time. Additional measures have been proposed by the Committee on Reducing Attrition in Education, chaired by Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Senior Parliamentary Secretary, MOE. These measures are aimed at helping more students to attain at least 10 years of education so that they can subsequently get a post-secondary education. By doing so, they will be able to maximise their potential and have the best chance of succeeding in life.

The additional measures are outlined below:

  1. Supporting schools with additional manpower resources, in the form of a second Full Time School Counsellor and an additional Operations Manager to 70 high-needs schools over the next four years;
  2. Strengthening student engagement through meaningful engagement in CCAs, and setting appropriate aspirational goals through Educational and Career Guidance;
  3. Supporting earlier intervention through identifying and monitoring students at-risk; and
  4. Establishing closer partnership with community groups to provide comprehensive and holistic support for students.

Bursaries for Universities and Polytechnics

Admission to the university and polytechnics must remain needs-blind, and no able student should be deterred by the cost of a tertiary education. To ensure access to higher education for the lower and middle income families, MOE will enhance support for lower income Singapore students and extend some assistance to those in the middle income brackets. The enhancements made to the Government financial assistance schemes are set out below. The enhanced schemes will be implemented from AY2008.

Financial Assistance for Undergraduates

  1. CDC/CCC-University Bursary Scheme – The bursary quantum is increased from $1,000 to $1,600 per annum. This scheme is targeted at the bottom 20% of households by income.
  2. MOE Bursary Scheme for Undergraduates – The bursary quantum is increased from $800 to $1,200 per annum. The bursary is also extended to undergraduates from a broader middle group, from 50th percentile to 66th percentile of households by income. Those above the 50th percentile will get a lower quantum of $800 per annum.
  3. Study Loan Scheme for Undergraduates2 – This loan scheme is extended to undergraduates from the current 50% to 80% of households by income.

With a combination of government subsidies, bursaries, and loans, undergraduate students from within the bottom 66% of households by income would not require any cash outlay to complete their university education.

2The means-tested Study Loan Scheme for undergraduates complements the Tuition Fee Loan Scheme, which provides a loan that covers up to 90% of the tuition fees payable. The Tuition Fee Loan Scheme is available to all undergraduate students, regardless of their income levels.

Financial Assistance for Diploma Students

  1. CDC-CCC Polytechnic Bursary Scheme – The bursary quantum is increased from $1,000 to $1,200 per annum. The Scheme is also extended to students enrolled in MOE-funded diploma programmes in the two publicly-funded arts institutions – Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA) and LASALLE College of the Arts. This scheme is targeted at the bottom 20% of households by income.
  2. MOE Bursary Scheme for Diploma Students – This Scheme is extended to diploma students from the bottom 50% of households by income. The bursary quantum is set at $800 per annum. The Scheme is also extended to students enrolled in MOE-funded diploma programmes in NAFA and LASALLE.
  3. Study Loan Scheme for Diploma Students3 – This loan scheme is extended to diploma students from the current 50% to 80% of households by income. The maximum loan quantum of the living allowance under the loan scheme is also increased from $1,000 to $2,000 per annum.

3The means-tested Study Loan Scheme for diploma students complements the Tuition Fee Loan Scheme which provides a loan that covers up to 75% of the tuition fees payable. The Tuition Fee Loan Scheme is available to all diploma students, regardless of their income levels.

Enhancing Opportunities in the University Sector

Over the past decade, we have invested heavily in our Autonomous Universities, polytechnics and the Institute of Technical Education (ITE). NUS, NTU and SMU are internationally recognised as world-class universities, excelling in the twin pillars of teaching and research.

To meet the aspirations of Singaporeans to receive quality university education, and provide more opportunities for working adults to upgrade their qualifications, MOE will invest more resources in expanding our university sector and enhancing our support for continuing education and training.

Expansion and Diversification of the University Landscape

Expansion of the University Sector

To expand and inject more diversity into the university landscape, the Committee on the Expansion of the University Sector, chaired by Minister of State for Education, RAdm (NS) Lui Tuck Yew, has made the following preliminary recommendations.

  1. Earlier attainment of 25% Cohort Participation Rate (CPR): In the immediate term, the original target of 25% CPR to be met by 2010 will now be achieved in 2008.

  2. Preliminary recommendation - setting up a new publicly-funded university: To cater to the target increase in CPR from 25% to 30% by 2015, the Committee’s preliminary recommendation is that a new publicly-funded university be established in 2011. The Committee is of the view that the new university should be differentiated from the existing universities in its approach to education – with an integrated, inter-disciplinary approach to learning, real-world experience and entrepreneurship. The Committee received feedback from various industry sectors on areas that could offer significant growth opportunities in the future. Students and parents also provided feedback on areas of interest, and areas that were perceived to be under-served. Feedback has centred around the interplay between the fields of Design, Engineering and Business. This interplay of disciplines could be focused on areas of growth such as clean technology and its applications, tourism and hospitality, and sustainable building design. The specific disciplines to be offered will be studied further, and will be determined in due course by the management of the new university.

  3. Preliminary recommendation - establishment of a liberal arts college: Another of the Committee’s preliminary recommendations is to establish a small liberal arts college, affiliated to one of our existing universities.

    Liberal arts colleges are distinguished by a broad-based, multi-disciplinary education that may include the natural and social sciences, mathematics and the humanities. They are also characterised by a small student intake of about 200-300 each year, whose calibre is comparable to the best in the Ivy League universities. The small intake size allows the liberal arts college to provide intense interaction among students and with faculty to create a stimulating environment.

    The Committee is of the view that the liberal arts college is an exciting model of education that will offer an attractive alternative for a small number of our brightest students. It will also draw top foreign students from the region.

Supporting Degree-Level Continuing Education and Training

As part of the broader national plan to promote Continuing Education and Training (CET) at all levels of the workforce, MOE will extend funding support to part-time degree programmes in our Autonomous Universities (AUs) and UniSIM for Singapore Citizens and Singapore Permanent Residents. Such funding for part-time degree programmes would provide a viable upgrading path for polytechnic graduates and ‘A’ level students who were not admitted to full-time programmes in the AUs and who might otherwise seek out private options, either locally or overseas, that may be uneven in quality. This will open up more pathways and opportunities in our university education landscape.

Strengthening Singapore as an Education Hub

With the rising number of foreign students enrolled, private education is now a significant sector. We will strengthen the private education sector to improve standards, provide a good learning environment for both our local and foreign students, and help build up Singapore’s reputation as a quality education hub.

Enhancing Regulation of the Private Education Sector

Regulation of the private education sector will be consolidated in MOE and enhanced, to further improve the reputation of Singapore’s private education sector. This will be calibrated to allow new players to enter and develop, while providing incentives for market players to raise standards over time.

The following measures will be introduced to seek to ensure a baseline of quality in the industry, while preserving a marketplace that allows for student choice:

  1. Establishing an independent Council for Private Education to oversee the regulatory framework for the private education sector. MOE will remain responsible for setting policies for the sector, but it will empower the Council to decide on all applications for registration and certification. The Council will also direct investigative and enforcement actions to be taken against errant private schools, where required. Aside from its regulatory function, the Council will also promote best practices in the private education sector.

  2. Amending the regulatory framework to require that registration be renewed periodically, and strengthening enforcement. Currently, private schools are required to obtain one-time registration with MOE before they are allowed to operate. MOE intends to impose a validity period for registration by the Council and make it renewable, subject to certain conditions. This regular renewal process rather than a one-time registration will encourage private schools to consistently maintain their standards. Under the enhanced regulatory framework, threshold registration requirements and conditions will be clearly spelt out, so that private schools know exactly what practices are considered unacceptable.

    MOE will also strengthen its capability to enforce the registration requirements. Currently, a private school can only be de-registered and only under extreme circumstances. To better deal with schools that violate the conditions of registration, MOE will introduce graduated penalties, including fines, for errant private education providers. This will allow the Council to impose penalties that are in proportion to the severity of the offences. It will serve as useful deterrence against poor standards or behaviours while giving errant schools opportunities to rectify their violations.

  3. Introducing a quality certification scheme, known as “EduTrust”. This will build on the improvements in standards that have been achieved through CaseTrust for Education, which will be replaced by the new scheme. EduTrust will introduce new requirements over and above those required under CaseTrust, including minimum standards of academic processes. EduTrust-certified schools will be held accountable for maintaining certain student welfare and academic standards across the board for all students, whether local or foreign.

Building a Quality Education Service

The key strength of the Singapore education system is in having a quality Education Service. The ability to achieve our goals in education depends on us having a first class teaching force. That is why our key strategy in education has to remain that of selecting the right people to be teachers and school leaders, and developing them throughout their careers. Quality teachers and quality school leaders have brought us to where we are as a leading education system, and will take us forward.

The teaching force has grown steadily from 24,000 teachers in 2000 to 29,000 in 2007. We are on track to meeting the target of 30,000 teachers by 2010. At the same time, we have kept up the quality of teaching recruits. MOE has been able to recruit teachers from the top 30% of each cohort. About 75% of new teachers recruited today are graduates and close to one in two new graduate teachers have an Honours degree. We need to continue to recruit and retain good people for the Education Service.

GROW 2.0 Package

The “GROW 2.0 Package”, which was announced in December 2007, affirms the good work of our teachers and MOE’s commitment towards building a first class teaching service. Building on the foundation of the GROW package announced in 2006, GROW 2.0 further supports teachers’ professional and personal development needs holistically. The package provides teachers with a more attractive remuneration package, more career and professional development options as well as greater flexibility to balance the demands of work and family. In this way, we will be able to attract and retain a quality teaching force.

To find out more about MOE and our initiatives, please visit our website.

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