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All secondary school students to get personal laptop or tablet next year – seven years ahead of target

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All secondary school students will receive a personal laptop or tablet for learning by next year - seven years ahead of the original target.

The recent move by Education Minister Ong Ye Kung to bring forward the plan is one of the ways the Government, schools and the community are working together to keep social mobility alive, and ensure every individual is afforded the opportunity to do well, regardless of his starting point, Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said yesterday.

Mr Tharman said social mobility is an integral part of Singapore's identity and is the reason Singapore has been able to transform its society since the 1960s.

"Generations of children from humble backgrounds have moved up in life, through education, and by working hard in their jobs and businesses.

"Even today, Singaporeans who grow up in lower-income families have a better chance of moving up the income ladder than those in most other advanced countries," he noted, as he spoke on social mobility during the fifth ministerial broadcast.

Mr Tharman said the Government and its partners have been working to equalise opportunities for Singaporeans.

In early childhood, it is expanding the KidStart programme to help lower- income families and their children in the earliest years, which are critical to their development.

Introduced in 2016, KidStart provides advice and support to families on bringing up children, such as nutrition.

The pre-school profession has also been upgraded, and the National Institute of Early Childhood Development has been set up to raise industry standards.

"So whichever pre-school your child goes to, he or she will have a good start," said Mr Tharman.

The work does not stop there, he said. The Ministry of Education (MOE) has been allocating extra resources to schools for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

They will be given even more support in the coming years, with the hiring of more teachers, allied educators, student welfare officers and teacher-counsellors, he added.

This will boost the efforts of those in schools that are supporting pupils who are doing less well in primary schools, as well as the efforts in the ministry's Uplift (Uplifting Pupils in Life and Inspiring Families Taskforce) programme.

In Uplift, schools and the community collaborate to support students from disadvantaged families.

The additional resources will also help students to go as far as they can through the full subject-based banding system in secondary schools, which allows students to take subjects at varying levels of difficulty based on their strengths.

"When you add up all we are doing, starting from the earliest years of childhood onward, we are making a determined effort to keep Singapore a place where every individual can do well, regardless of their starting points," said Mr Tharman.

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