Many Paths, New Possibilities: Nurturing Our Students’ Aptitudes & Enhancing Their Access to Opportunities

Published Date: 07 March 2017 12:00 AM

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In line with the Ministry of Education (MOE)’s continuous efforts to support an inclusive education ecosystem with opportunities for all, so as to nurture a nation of well-rounded lifelong learners, where every individual matters, MOE will be implementing the following initiatives:

  1. Expanding of Subject-Based Banding at Secondary Level;
  2. Refocusing of Direct School Admission policy to better align with its original intent;
  3. Ensuring secondary schools remain open to all;
  4. Providing more financial support for post-secondary students


2. To better cater to the strengths of students in different subjects, MOE will be expanding Subject-Based Banding (Secondary) [SBB (Sec)] to all secondary schools offering the Normal (Academic) or Normal (Technical) course by 2018. SBB (Sec) extends the existing flexibility that students already have at upper secondary to take subjects at a higher academic level. It has been prototyped in 12 schools since 2014.

3. SBB (Sec) allows students to stretch themselves and acquire greater depth in subjects they are strong in. Students posted to the N(A) and N(T) courses would be able to take some subjects at a higher academic level 1 starting from Secondary 1 if they have performed well in those subjects at the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE). At any point after the start of Secondary 1, students posted to the N(A) and N(T) courses may also be offered the opportunity to take subjects at a higher-level if found suitable to do so by their schools.


4. Started in 2004, the Direct School Admission (DSA) scheme provides students an opportunity to gain admission to a school based on a diverse range of talents and achievements that they can demonstrate, beyond the PSLE.

5. From the 2018 DSA (Secondary) Exercise, all secondary schools will be able to admit up to 20% of their non-Integrated Programme Secondary One intake via the DSA 2. With an increase in the number of DSA places, students will have more options and opportunities to access secondary schools with distinctive programmes that match their areas of strengths and interests via direct entry.

6. Schools will also refine their selection processes to better recognise talents in both academic and non-academic domains, from this year. In particular for selection in the academic domain, schools will recognise talent in specific academic subjects 3, rather than general academic ability, which can already be demonstrated through the PSLE. In line with this, students will not be required to take the general academic tests 4 for DSA selection by 2018. Instead, schools can continue to use a range of assessment tools to select students whom they deem suitable for their distinctive academic programmes in specific subjects.

7. From 2019, students will be able to apply for the DSA through a centralised application portal, using a common application form. MOE is simplifying the DSA application process to encourage students to make full use of the expanded DSA opportunities.


8. MOE is also committed to ensure that all schools remain open to all students, regardless of their backgrounds and connections. Hence, starting from the 2019 S1 Posting Exercise (i.e. 2019 PSLE cohort), 20% of places at each course in every affiliated secondary school will be reserved for students who do not benefit from affiliation priority. This allows access for non-affiliates to these schools, while recognising the valuable historical ties between affiliated primary and secondary schools.

9. This is an extension of how we had set aside places for children without prior connections at the Primary 1 Registration Exercise. Since the 2014 P1 Registration Exercise, at least 40 places in every primary school are set aside for children with no prior connections to the school in Primary 1.


10. To provide more help and enable more students to enjoy financial support for their post-secondary education, the Government will increase the quantum and extend the coverage of government bursaries, namely the Community Development Council/Citizens’ Consultative Committee (CDC/CCC) Bursary and the MOE Bursary. This will take effect from Academic Year (AY) 2017 for full-time Singaporean students studying in the publicly-funded Post-Secondary Education Institutions 5 (PSEIs). About 12,000 more Singaporean students are expected to tap on the schemes, bringing the number up to about 71,000 students each year.

Enhanced Bursaries for Students from Lower and Middle-Income Households

11. To enhance students’ access to bursaries, the income eligibility cap for government bursaries will be raised, and Gross Monthly Household Income (GHI) will be introduced as an alternative income assessment criterion. The CDC/CCC Bursary will also be expanded from the current one-tier to a two-tier bursary for universities, polytechnics and arts institutions 6. Students from the lowest tier will receive more support through higher bursary provisions.

12. With these changes, families with a GHI of $9,000 and below, or a Gross Monthly Household Per Capita Income (PCI) of $2,250 and below (up from the current PCI of $1,900 and below), will be eligible for a government bursary.

13. We will also raise the annual bursary quanta to provide more financial support to students to help them defray their cost of education. The quanta will increase by up to $400 for undergraduates, up to $350 for diploma students, and up to $200 for ITE students.

14. These enhancements will cost the Government about $50 million more per year. Details on the bursary enhancements are provided in the Annex.

  1. Students in the N(T) course can take the subject at N(A) or Express level; students in the N(A) course can take the subject at Express level.

  2. Autonomous Schools and Schools with Distinctive Programmes can admit 10% and 5% respectively of their Secondary 1 non-Integrated Programme students today. Specialised Independent Schools and schools that offer the Integrated Programme will continue to have full discretion in admission.

  3. For instance, in Mathematics, Science and languages.

  4. Examples of such tests include the General Ability Test (GAT) and Higher Ability Selection Test (HAST). While these tests offer a standardised assessment of a candidate’s general reasoning and problem-solving skills, they also put undue focus on general academic abilities.

  5. Applicable to students taking publicly-funded full-time courses in the Institute of Technical Education (ITE), polytechnics, Arts institutions (Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts and LASALLE College of the Arts), and universities.

  6. The CDC/CCC Bursary for ITE students already has two bursary tiers, with more aid provided to students from the lowest income tier.

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