Support for secondary school dropouts and students on long absence

Published Date: 10 July 2018 12:00 AM

News Parliamentary Replies

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament

Miss Cheng Li Hui, Tampines GRC


To ask the Minister for Education (a) whether the Ministry tracks the number of students who drop out of secondary education; (b) what are the reasons for these students not continuing their education; (c) what is the length of the absentee period before schools take action and reach out to the absent students and their families; and (d) what measures does the Ministry take to ensure such students return to school.


1. The proportion of the Primary One cohort that did not complete secondary education has fallen from 4% in 2000 to less than 1% currently. This is due to the concerted effort of schools, agencies and community partners.

2. The reasons for dropping out are usually a combination of factors, including personal and family circumstances, desire to work rather than study, negative peer influence outside of school, lack of motivation to learn and difficulties coping with their studies.

3. Teachers in schools mark students’ attendance daily. Schools have systems in place to promptly notify parents and check on the students when they are absent without valid reasons. Active steps are also taken to engage students who display irregular attendance, including counselling, parent engagement and home visits.

4. Since 2009, schools have implemented the Time Out Programme to provide enhanced guidance and support for disengaged students, to help them overcome the difficulties that have kept them away from school. Additional support is provided by School Counsellors and Student Welfare Officers who support students in addressing their emotional and behavioural issues and work closely with the family and other community partners to encourage them to return to school.

5. Besides school-based solutions, MOE also taps on the expertise of our partners, such as Social Service Offices, Family Service Centres, Self-Help Groups and Voluntary Welfare Organisations. For example, students who drop out of school are referred to the Enhanced STEP-UP Programme set up by the Ministry of Social and Family Development. Under this programme, VWOs engage out-of-school youths and their families, to encourage the youths to re-engage their schools and community again.

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