Extending Compulsory Education up to "O" or "N" Levels in Preparing Our Youths to Meet Future Challenges.

Published Date: 09 May 2016 12:00 AM

News Parliamentary Replies

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament

Ms Cheng Li Hui, Tampines GRC


To ask the Acting Minister for Education (Schools) whether the Ministry will consider extending compulsory education up to "O" or "N" levels in preparing our youths to meet future challenges.


MOE introduced Compulsory Education only at the primary level in Singapore in 2003, following the recommendations of the Committee on Compulsory Education. The Committee had also deliberated whether secondary education should be made compulsory; and Parliament discussed this when the Compulsory Education Act was introduced.

Legislating Compulsory Education does not ensure full enrolment in schools or solve the root problems of non-attendance, as these are often complex and multi-faceted in nature.

Instead, MOE has taken a holistic approach by working with parents, schools, community self-help groups and relevant agencies, such as the Ministry of Social and Family Development and Family Service Centres, to support the family and help all students attend school. This includes tracking and helping students who are at-risk of dropping out from schools, or those who are already out of schools.

We also focus on upstream efforts, such as ensuring that children attend primary school regularly to get a good start in education. With a solid foundation in the early years, our children are well-placed to progress to and access a secondary and post-secondary education.

In addition, we recognise that regular school attendance is necessary but insufficient for real learning to take place. MOE therefore also invests in providing multiple pathways and a variety of programmes in our schools to cater to students of different learning needs, strengths and talents, so every student is able to learn at a pace most suited to him/her, has opportunities to develop his/her strengths and is well-prepared for further progression in education and work. The quality of their school experience helps to keep our students interested and engaged in school, to strive for excellence in their respective domains.

With these efforts, Singapore has already achieved near-universal secondary education. Today, less than 1% of each Primary 1 cohort does not complete secondary education. A legislative extension of compulsory education is unlikely to be effective in reducing this any further. To prepare our youths for future challenges, MOE will continue to support our children in their education at every stage by providing a quality education and meeting their needs.

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