Parliamentary Replies

November 04, 2020

Provision of Devices to Primary and Secondary Students for Home-based Learning

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament

Mr Sharael Taha, Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC

Question

To ask the Minister for Education (a) what is the number of primary and secondary school students who still do not have access to digital devices to do home-based learning (HBL); and (b) what are the available schemes to ensure that children from less fortunate families have sufficient access to digital devices to do HBL.

Response

1. When MOE polled students during the Circuit Breaker earlier this year, close to 9 in 10 students already had access to their own devices at home for learning. For those without access, MOE worked closely with schools to loan more than 20,000 computing devices and 1,600 internet-enabling devices to them.

2. MOE also worked with IMDA during Circuit Breaker to help students from low-income households to apply for devices and internet access via its NEU PC Plus (NPP) programme. From the start of Circuit Breaker till the present, IMDA has deployed close to 10,000 computing devices to needy families with school-going children.

3. After the end of Circuit Breaker, students who had already loaned school devices were asked to hold onto their devices until the end of the school year, even after face-to-face schooling had resumed, to ensure that they continued to have easy access to devices. New student requests for loan of devices have declined significantly since the end of Circuit Breaker, as have new applications for devices under NPP.

4. Going forward, access to devices would no longer be an issue for secondary school students. Under the National Digital Literacy Programme (NDLP) that was announced earlier this year, all secondary students will own a device by end-2021. Students from lower-income households will be provided with additional support so that no out-of-pocket payment is needed for the learning device.

5. For primary school students from low-income households who lack access, MOE and IMDA will continue to work together to help them apply for devices and internet connectivity through NPP. Students under MOE's Financial Assistance Scheme who cannot afford the NPP co-payment will be fully supported by IMDA's iNSPIRE Fund. In addition, schools also have sufficient devices to continue loaning them to students for home-based learning.