March 04, 2020
Learn for Life – Ready for the Future: Education as an Uplifting Force
As we transform the education system to better enable Singaporeans to seize opportunities and realise their potential, we will ensure that education remains an uplifting force for everyone, regardless of their background.
SUPPORT FOR STUDENTS WITH SPECIAL EDUCATIONAL NEEDS (SEN) IN MAINSTREAM SCHOOLS AND INSTITUTES OF HIGHER LEARNING (IHLS)
SEN Professional Development (PD) Roadmap
2. The Ministry of Education (MOE) is committed to supporting students with SEN to reach their fullest potential. Over the years, we have increased the variety of high quality educational settings, in order to meet a diverse range of needs.
3. To better support students with SEN who are able to cope with the national curriculum and learn in large group settings, MOE will introduce a structured SEN PD roadmap to enhance training for educators in mainstream schools. This aligns with SkillsFuture for Educators, which prioritises six Areas of Practice for educators, one of which is "Support for Students with SEN".
4. All educators will be equipped with a basic understanding of SEN, and the skills and strategies to support students with SEN through more extensive coverage of SEN in the pre-service curriculum. From Q3 2020, educators in our schools will have access to new online learning modules developed by MOE. These modules feature locally produced, evidence-based resources that will enable our educators to apply their learning in the local context. We have also increased the number of in-service training places for Allied Educators (Learning and Behavioural Support) from 60 to 600 from July 2019, and adopted a modular approach for courses in different areas of SEN to enable the Allied Educators to support a wider range of SEN.
5. The roadmap also differentiates the PD for various groups of educators, to augment the distinct roles they play in enabling students with SEN to thrive. An overview of SEN PD for different segments of school personnel can be found in Annex A.
Extension of SEN Fund
6. The SEN Fund available in the polytechnics and ITE, will be extended to support students with a wider range of SEN enrolled in the polytechnics and the Institute of Technical Education (ITE).
7. With effect from 1 April 2020, full-time Singapore Citizen students with learning and language difficulties (e.g. dyslexia) or social and behavioural difficulties (e.g. Autism Spectrum Disorder or Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) will be able to tap on the SEN Fund to purchase Assistive Technology (AT) devices, up to a cap of $5,000. Such AT devices, which include reader pens and assistive listening systems, seek to help students better manage their learning at the polytechnics and ITE, and prepare them for independent work and life.
8. The SEN Fund was established in 2014 to support polytechnic and ITE students with physical or sensory impairment to purchase education-related AT devices and support services over their course duration. More details on the SEN Fund can be found in Annex B.
ENHANCED FINANCIAL SUPPORT FOR STUDENTS
MOE Financial Assistance Scheme (FAS)
9. To ensure that the financial circumstances of students do not impede their access to a quality education, MOE will enhance transport and meal subsidies for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
10. From April 2020, the MOE FAS monthly public transport subsidy will be increased from $10 to $15. This revision will also apply to the FAS for Special Education (SPED) schools and to students receiving the 100% fee subsidy under the MOE Independent School Bursary (ISB). The monthly school bus subsidy coverage for primary school students will also be increased from 50% to 60% of the monthly school bus fare.
11. Meal subsidies for MOE FAS recipients in secondary schools will be increased from $2.50 to $2.90 per meal. Eligible students will continue to receive meal subsidies for 10 meals per school week. This revision will similarly apply to the FAS for SPED schools and students receiving 100% fee subsidy under the MOE ISB.
12. The bursary quantum for pre-university students on MOE FAS will be increased from $900 to $1,000 per annum. Details of the MOE FAS can be found in Annex C.
Higher Education Community Bursary and Higher Education Bursary
13. From AY2020, full-time ITE students enrolled in Nitec and Higher Nitec programmes who are on Government bursaries will receive an annual cash bursary increment of between $50 and $200.
14. In addition, students with a Gross Household Income (GHI) of up to $2,750 or Per Capita Income (PCI) of up to $690 will receive a 100% tuition fee subsidy on top of the cash bursary. This will be effective when the new semesters for Higher Nitec and Nitec begin in April 2020 and July 2020 respectively.
Table 1: Enhanced Annual Government Bursary Quanta for full-time ITE students enrolled in Nitec and Higher Nitec programmes from AY2020
||Revised Government Bursary Quantum from AY2020 (Increase)
|Higher Education Community Bursary
||GHI ≤$2,750 or PCI ≤ $690
||100% tuition fee subsidy + $1,500
|GHI $2,751-$4,000 or
|Higher Education Bursary
||GHI $4,001-$6,900 or
|GHI $6,901-$9,000 or
i. The 100% tuition fee subsidy under the Higher Education Community Bursary will take effect from the semester beginning in April 2020.
ii.The increases of $510 and $690 are for the Nitec and Higher Nitec programmes respectively.
Community Development Council/Citizens' Consultative Committee (CDC/CCC)-ITE Scholarship
15. From the semester beginning in April 2020, ITE students who are awarded the CDC/CCC-ITE Scholarship will also receive a 100% fee subsidy, on top of the scholarship cash award of $1,600 per annum. The scholarship will also be re-named the 'ITE Community Scholarship'. Details on the CDC/CCC-ITE Scholarship can be found in Annex D.
16. Details of the enhancements announced in 2019 to the Government bursary quanta for full-time Singaporean diploma students, undergraduates, NUS/NTU Medicine and Dentistry undergraduates and part-time diploma students and undergraduates can be found in Annex E. These enhancements will take effect from AY2020.
UPLIFT INITIATIVES TO SUPPORT DISADVANTAGED STUDENTS
Strengthening after-school care and support
17. One of MOE's key areas of focus under the Uplifting Pupils in Life and Inspiring Families Taskforce (UPLIFT) is strengthening after-school care and support for students. Our school-based Student Care Centres (SCCs) in primary schools provide a safe, supportive and structured environment for students after school.
18. This year, we have achieved our target of opening a school-based SCC in all 185 primary schools, up from 170 in 2019. We have also increased the enrolment in these SCCs, from 3,000 in 2012 – when MOE announced plans to expand the number of school-based SCCs – to about 27,000 this year.
19. With more places in SCCs, we will step up efforts to identify, enrol and provide support to students who would benefit most from the after-school care.
- More comprehensive, proactive outreach approach piloted with positive outcomes - MOE has developed a more targeted, proactive approach to reach out to and strengthen partnerships with families of children with greater needs. It was piloted in a few primary schools from July 2019, and involved a whole-school and community effort to engage families on the importance of school-based SCC support for their child, and address the challenges they faced.
For example, teachers supported the students and their families through the various documents they had to submit for enrolment, and smoothen the enrolment process. Once students were enrolled, schools worked with community and the SCC service providers to strengthen motivational support, resilience and holistic development through meaningful programmes.
The pilot achieved positive outcomes - of 100 students with greater needs that were identified for the pilot, 87 of them were successfully enrolled. The schools observed significant progress in these students, such as improvements in their confidence and engagement in learning, and social-emotional development.
Given the success and impact of the pilot, MOE will be implementing this outreach approach in all primary schools by this year.
- Enhancements to affordability - The Government will also be making SCCs – both school-based and community-based – more affordable for children from lower-income families. The Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) will announce further details on this.
21. These changes will enable us to support more disadvantaged students, and further strengthen social mobility.
Strengthening school-community partnerships
22. UPLIFT has also been enhancing collaboration between schools and the community to support disadvantaged students.
This includes working actively with corporates and tapping on their resources. For example, the Singapore Press Holdings' Chinese Media Group (CMG), partnered New Town Primary and Qihua Primary School in 2019 to run a Chinese Language reading programme, "Reading with You" for Primary 3 and 4 students. Leveraging their student publication – "Thumbs Up Junior", CMG staff including journalists and radio deejays engaged the students in enrichment activities and conversations, with the support of volunteers from the Chinese Development Assistance Council (CDAC) and Ngee Ann Polytechnic. The primary school students were immersed in a Chinese Language-rich environment, improving their fluency and confidence in using the language. The volunteers also shared about current affairs and their life experiences, serving as positive role models to inspire the students.
UPLIFT has also worked closely with MSF to coordinate upstream, community-based support for disadvantaged students with emerging attendance issues at three towns – Woodlands, Kreta Ayer and Boon Lay. An UPLIFT Town-Level Coordinator (TLC) is stationed in each of the Social Service Offices (SSOs) to match the needs of students and families to appropriate local programmes and resources. The UPLIFT Community Pilot integrates support from schools and the community including the SSOs, Family Service Centres (FSCs), Social Service Agencies (SSAs) and volunteer befrienders, to meet the needs of vulnerable families. We estimate that more than 300 students could benefit from this coordinated support ecosystem in the three pilot towns from 2020 to 2022.
23. Together, we can ensure that every Singaporean is given equal opportunities to a quality and affordable education – a key step in building a society with opportunities for all.