Specific Action Plans following Findings in Census of Population 2020

Published Date: 06 July 2021 09:00 PM

News Parliamentary Replies

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament

Ms Raeesah Khan, Sengkang GRC


To ask the Minister for Education in light of the findings in the Census of Population 2020, whether there is any immediate and specific action plan to tackle the issue of low education levels of the Malay community.

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament

Ms Raeesah Khan, Sengkang GRC


To ask the Minister for Education (a) for each year from 2011 to 2020, how many Malays entered local universities; (b) what is the percentage breakdown as compared to other races; and (c) how many Malays failed to adhere to the 10-year compulsory education policy.


1. Our education system ensures opportunities for all, with multiple pathways to help students achieve their maximum potential. We provide additional support to students who have greater academic and other needs.

2. These efforts have supported all communities in improving their education levels. The Malay community has indeed done better over the years. Younger Malays, in particular, made significant improvements between 2010 and 2020. According to Census findings, among Malay residents aged 25 to 34, the proportion with post-secondary or higher qualifications increased from 6 in 10 to 8 in 10, while the proportion with university qualifications increased from 1 in 10 to 2 in 10.

3. Similarly, there are positive trends among the more recent cohorts of Malay students.

  1. In 2019, 94% of Malay students who entered P1 in 2009 progressed to post-secondary education. This is close to the national average of 97%.
  2. The number of Malay students entering publicly-funded degree programmes in our Autonomous Universities almost doubled from 600 in 2011 to more than 1,000 last year, while that of the overall student cohort increased by about 50% over the same period.
  3. The Member also asked for the number of Malay students who failed to adhere to the 10-year compulsory education policy. Under the Compulsory Education Act, all Singapore Citizen children residing in Singapore must attend a national primary school. Nearly all our students progress to secondary education - in fact, for the last five years, only one Malay student from each Primary 1 (P1) cohort did not do so.

4. It is therefore not accurate to say that our Malay community has low educational levels. The Malay community has made good progress over the years. Internationally, in the most recent international benchmarking study, PISA, they outperformed their OECD peers in Mathematics and in 21st century competencies such as intercultural skills and collaborative problem solving. They are also on par in Reading and Science. This puts them in good stead to thrive in the global economy.

5. There is further room for significant progress, and we have redoubled our efforts to ensure all students, including Malay students, have strong support to maximise their potential.

  1. To ensure a strong start for every child, we are scaling up KidSTART to support parents with child development, and are investing significantly in quality and affordable pre-school education.
  2. During their schooling years, we will give further support to help weaker students build strong foundations in literacy and numeracy with dedicated learning support programmes. Those without a conducive home environment are also supported through after-school care and engagement, with Student Care Centres in every primary school and after school programmes in secondary schools. Subsidies are provided to ensure that it is affordable to those in the lowest income brackets.
  3. The Institutes of Higher Learning also work closely with MOE to ensure that our graduates are equipped with the skills to remain resilient and thrive in the future economy. After entering the workforce, graduates are encouraged to continue to upskill and reskill throughout their career journey under the national SkillsFuture movement.

6. Beyond schools, we work hand in hand with the community to ensure that no child is left behind. For instance, the UPLIFT Community Pilot provides upstream wraparound support to disadvantaged students and their families. The outcomes have been promising, and we intend to expand to other towns and support many more students in the next two years.The M3 network, comprising MUIS, MENDAKI and MESRA, will continue to engage and support Malay/Muslim students and their families – through upstream efforts to prepare pre-schoolers and their parents for P1, to mentoring programmes to inspire and guide students to pursue higher education and seize career opportunities. Project DIAN@M3 will focus on ensuring children living in rental flats continue to get additional support for their academic and social development.

7. So across each stage of education, inside and outside school, we are pressing on with support for Malay students, together with other high-needs students. The progress we have made thus far gives us confidence that we are on the right track, and we will continue to ensure that Singapore remains a society of opportunities for all.

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