Press Releases

February 10, 2009

Information Sheet on Building Strong Fundamentals, Expanding Opportunities for All

MOE firmly believes that education is a necessary investment, in good times as well as in bad times. In difficult times, it is even more important to invest in the future, so that Singapore, as a country, is well-poised to take up new challenges when the economy picks up. Our education system must continue to evolve in response to the needs of a changing economy and profiles of Singaporeans.

More opportunities, many pathways

Despite the downturn, Singapore will continue spending on education. For this financial year, the educational budget has increased by 5.5% to $8.7 billion. MOE projects that the spending on education will increase to $11 billion by 2013. MOE will use these resources to strategically build on the strong foundations that underpin our system.

Firstly, MOE will continue to recruit passionate and competent teachers to take on leadership roles as principals and specialists, so that schools can rise in standards and students can develop to their full potential as the quality of teaching improves.

Secondly, MOE will continue to shape our education system to be more responsive to students with different aptitudes, styles and pace of learning. MOE has already initiated some programmes, such as the Direct School Admissions and subject-based banding in primary schools, to provide flexibility.

MOE will continue to open up choices and pathways for secondary school students. Three schools are piloting for Normal Technical stream students new elective subjects developed by the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) and MOE. Si Ling Secondary is piloting the Computer & Networking elective; Bedok Town Secondary is piloting the Electrical Technology & Applications elective; and Shuqun Secondary is piloting the Mobile Robotics elective. These subjects are taught by ITE lecturers who are seconded to the school, and students can offer them at N-levels for progression to ITE.

In 2008, the ITE piloted a new pathway to Higher Nitec courses for Secondary 4 Normal (Academic) [N(A)] students. N(A) students who obtain an aggregate of 19 points or less for EL, Mathematics and three other subjects, with at least a Grade 4 in EL and Mathematics at the N-Levels have the option of gaining direct entry to Higher Nitec courses at the ITE. This allows the students to obtain an ITE qualification earlier as they do not have to sit for the ‘O’ Levels. 360 students from the first intake have successfully completed their first semester at ITE. This year, 377 Secondary 4 N(A) students have enrolled under the scheme.

Specialised Independent Schools have also been set up for students with talents in specific fields. These include the NUS High School of Mathematics and Science, The School of the Arts and the Singapore Sports School. Next year, another specialised independent school - the School of Science and Technology, will open its doors to its first intake. The SST will offer a four-year programme leading to the Singapore-Cambridge GCE ‘O’ Level examination. Catering to those with talents in applied learning, it will teach regular academic subjects and offer students a range of options in applied areas related to technology, media and design

In the post-secondary sector, more opportunities will also be provided for Singaporeans. The ITE will step up its programmes to provide skilled manpower to maintain Singapore’s long-term economic competitiveness. It will build two more comprehensive campuses - College West and College Central. ITE College West, ready from 2010, will focus on courses for Automotive Technology, Culinary & Hospitality and Precision Engineering. ITE College Central, ready around 2012, will have niche courses in Aerospace Technology, Creative Media and Wafer Fabrication. The ITE will also introduce 11 new courses with a total intake of about 1,200 places this year. The new courses for 2009 are in areas such as Leisure and Travel Operations, Aerospace Machining Technology and Medical Manufacturing Technology.

MOE will also increase the number of places available at the five polytechnics this year by 700 to cater to the increasing demand for a polytechnic education. This will bring the total number of places in the polytechnics in Academic Year 2009 to 25,700, catering for 42.5 % of the cohort.

More opportunities have also been provided for polytechnic graduates to upgrade themselves. Under the Polytechnic-Foreign Specialised Institution (Poly-FSI) framework, poly graduates can take degree courses in niche areas with an industry-oriented focus. This year, the six degree programmes - in Early Childhood Education, Retail Management, Naval Architecture, Food Technology, Creative Producing and Optometry - admitted around 300 students. MOE will more than double the places available to 700 over the next few years. Following a demand for industry-oriented degrees, as shown by the Poly-FSI, MOE is now studying different ways to expand and accelerate such degree upgrading opportunities for polytechnic graduates. Details will be announced in the later half of this year.

This year, a total of 15,210 university places, or an increase of more than 900 places from the 14,200 places that were taken up by students last year, will be provided to cater to slightly over 25% of the student cohort. Together with the places from the upcoming new university, the university cohort participation rate would reach 30% of the cohort by 2015. The New University at East Coast will open its doors in 2011 to around 500 students. It will eventually have an intake of up to 2,500 students.

MOE has received good proposals from top US universities to partner the new University. In December 2008, Dr Ng Eng Hen, Minister for Education and Second Minister for Defence, visited two leading universities in China to discuss a partnership proposal. The Presidents of both universities will be visiting Singapore in the next few months to further explore the collaboration.

Primary School Review

MOE has also embarked on the review of primary education in order to equip our children with not just content knowledge, but also the necessary skills and disposition to thrive in an increasingly complex, competitive and inter-connected world. These skills and dispositions should be inculcated starting from the primary level which is the foundational stage of education. Following four months of intensive public consultation, the Primary Education Review and Implementation Committee had shared its preliminary recommendations which covered two broad areas: To balance knowledge with skills and values, through curriculum, teaching methods and assessment, as well as provide more resources for a quality primary education, through manpower and infrastructural investments.

Conclusion

MOE will step up investment in the education system across all levels, so as to better prepare our younger generation to meet the challenges of the future. We will also put in place measures to ensure that all Singaporeans continue to have access to school and post-secondary education, in spite of the economic downturn. We will also ensure that we spend prudently, to stretch the educational dollar.