Parliamentary Replies

November 04, 2020

Digital Devices to Students in Schools and Institutes of Higher Learning

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament

Mr Gan Thiam Poh, Ang Mo Kio GRC

Question

To ask the Minister for Education (a) in the past five years, how many students, from primary school to undergraduates, have made the request for the provision of personal computers to enable online learning; (b) whether there are students who have financial difficulties and network connections to undertake online learning; and (c) what measures have been taken to ensure that students' accessibility to online learning is made available to children of vulnerable families.

Response

1. For lower-income students from MOE schools, polytechnics, and ITE, IMDA's NEU PC Plus (NPP) programme and the MOE Opportunity Fund (OF) are two schemes that support them in obtaining digital devices. In the last five years from 2015 to 2019, close to 20,000 students in MOE schools, and 4,000 students from the polytechnics and ITE benefited from the IMDA NPP programme. Further, about 19,000 polytechnic and ITE students benefitted from the OF for the purchase of devices. Students may access more than one scheme.

2. Besides financial support from OF and NPP, schools and institutions also lean forward to support their students in other ways. For example, they will loan devices and mobile routers to students who need them for their classroom lessons or home-based learning.

3. At the Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs), students from lower-income families can also tap on assistance schemes, or the annual allowances from their scholarships and bursaries, to defray the cost of IT devices. In addition, Autonomous University (AU) students also benefit from schemes such as loans to purchase laptops, or may be provided with second-hand laptops. In the past five years, over 350 AU students have benefited from these AU schemes.

4. COVID-19 has accelerated our efforts in this area. By end-2021, all secondary students will own a personal learning device (PLD) under MOE's National Digital Literacy Programme, seven years ahead of MOE's original timeline. Students from lower-income households will also receive additional support so that there will be no out-of-pocket payment for their PLDs.