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Impact of HBL on students’ learning and development

Published Date: 04 October 2021 09:00 PM

News Parliamentary Replies

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament

Mr Darryl David, Ang Mo Kio GRC


To ask the Minister for Education (a) whether the Government can provide an update on the recent period of home-based learning (HBL) that is implemented in late September/early October 2021 for primary school students in terms of the impact on their learning and development; and (b) whether this indicates a possible shift to more HBL periods for schools in the future.

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament

Ms Hazel Poa, Non-constituency Member of Parliament


To ask the Minister for Education whether the Ministry will consider moving schools to home-based learning in view of the spike in the number of COVID-19 cases.


1. MOE's approach has been to keep schools safe so that they can remain open as far as possible. We recognise that Home-Based Learning (HBL) cannot be a full substitute for the school-based learning experience. On a prolonged basis, it comes at a cost not just to students' learning but also their socio-emotional development and mental wellbeing. It also imposes a burden to families and society. Moreover, not all students have a home environment conducive to HBL.

2. The past few months have given us greater confidence that we can strike a balance by taking a more targeted approach to ringfence cases and their close contacts. For example, rather than resorting to full HBL across all schools, or the entire level, we would only place affected classes on HBL in response to a confirmed case, if there is a possibility of transmission within schools.

3. To reduce the possible disruption to the PSLE cohort and as an additional precautionary measure for primary schools, we had placed all our primary schools on HBL from 27 September to 6 October. Subsequently when the national posture tightened, this was extended by a day to include 7 October, effectively covering Term 4 Week 3 to 4, or two weeks, given that Children's Day on 8 October is already a school holiday.

4. Schools mitigate the impact of HBL by using technology to minimise disruption to curriculum coverage and maintain social connections. Teachers use online platforms and resources to ensure that students who are away from school can continue learning and conduct regular check-ins with these students to monitor their well-being. Schools have sufficient computing devices and internet-enabling devices to loan to students, and remain open for high needs students and those without alternative care-giving arrangements during HBL.

5. We will continue to review the need for further periods of HBL based on the prevailing COVID-19 situation and national posture.