October 28, 2018
Inter-Agency Taskforce to Better Support Students from Disadvantaged Families
1. Second Minister for Education Ms Indranee Rajah will lead an inter-agency team known as UPLIFT - “Uplifting Pupils in Life and Inspiring Families Taskforce”. It aims to strengthen support for students from disadvantaged families, especially those who are under-performing, so as to enable them to meet their true potential. Please refer to the Annex for the composition of the Taskforce and its Terms of Reference.
2. There are currently various ongoing whole-of-government and community efforts to support this group of students. Nonetheless, the challenges they face are multi-faceted, and this requires us to delve even deeper to identify the gaps and reach out to them more effectively. Thus, UPLIFT aims to plug the gaps in targeted areas, namely:
- Improving students’ motivation – cultivating the right values and broadening the students’ exposure in life, to complement academic programmes;
- Tackling long-term absenteeism and drop-out rates – developing strategies to overcome barriers to regular attendance in school;
- Stepping up parent outreach and engagement - strengthening parent outreach and parenting programmes to empower less privileged families.
3. Second Minister for Education and Chairperson of the Taskforce, Ms Indranee Rajah, said: “These students have the potential to do so much better, and we want to help them achieve that potential. To do so, we must ascertain the gaps and identify what exactly is preventing them from doing well. A key piece of the work is consulting with those in the frontline of working with disadvantaged children and their families, including school personnel, social workers, self-help groups and community partners. We will also hear from the children and their families themselves. Their experiences and insights will help us better understand what more we should do, and how we as a community and a society can collectively uplift those from disadvantaged backgrounds, boost social mobility and reduce inequality.”
4. Mr Sam Tan, Minister of State, Ministry of Social and Family Development and Board Member, Chinese Development Assistance Council said, “Parents play a crucial role in their children’s holistic development. When children have nurturing caregivers and a conducive environment at home, they are likely to be more engaged in their learning in school and at home. We are studying how to better support parents and caregivers in their efforts to guide their children’s development. We will also continue to strengthen parenting skills and competence to enhance parent-child relationships.”
5. Deputy Chairman for Mendaki and Minister of State for National Development and Manpower Mr Zaqy Mohamad added, “The M3 framework1 aims to be the pivot of the Malay/Muslim community in Singapore. While MENDAKI, MUIS and MESRA continue to co-deliver programmes to help the Malay community to achieve progress, it is important for us to strengthen the “last-mile service delivery” so that those who require support can get access to it more easily.”
6. The Taskforce will continue to engage stakeholders such as school staff, students, parents, social workers and community partners to understand the challenges and hear their feedback. Following these stakeholder engagements, UPLIFT will hold sessions with the community to brainstorm and create solutions together. UPLIFT’s recommendations are expected to be presented next year.