Disadvantaged students get more help with bursaries
There will also be more initiatives to tackle long-term absenteeism such as a town-level coordinator
More help will be given to disadvantaged students to ensure their circumstances do not impede their education, the Ministry of Education (MOE) said yesterday.
The inter-agency Uplifting Pupils in Life and Inspiring Families Taskforce (Uplift) led by MOE will also introduce more community-based initiatives to tackle long-term absenteeism.
Starting this year, full-time Institute of Technical Education students enrolled in Nitec and Higher Nitec programmes on government bursaries will receive an annual cash bursary increment of between $50 and $200.
Students with a gross household income of up to $2,750 or per capita income of up to $690 will also have their tuition fees fully subsidised on top of the cash bursary they are receiving.
Second Education Minister Indranee Rajah, who spoke at MOE's Committee of Supply debate yesterday, said the enhancements to the bursaries and scholarships for full-time Nitec and Higher Nitec students will see MOE spending about $28 million a year, in addition to the $44 million more a year spent on enhanced bursaries for polytechnics and universities.
Ms Indranee added that MOE's Financial Assistance Scheme will also be enhanced, such as increasing the public transport subsidy from $10 to $15 a month for students and the meal subsidy for secondary school students from $2.50 a meal to $2.90 a meal from April.
Bursaries for pre-university students will also be enhanced.
Ms Indranee said: "Similar to last year, we expect around 52,000 students from the primary to pre-university levels to benefit from the enhancements. This will cost around $52 million each year, a 20 per cent increase from today."
She also said to tackle long-term absenteeism, Uplift has worked closely with the Ministry of Social and Family Development to introduce an Uplift town-level coordinator stationed in the social service offices in Woodlands, Kreta Ayer and Boon Lay.
Ms Indranee said the purpose is to "close (the) coordination gap", as schools and community organisations may not always know the support programmes available or which students or families need help.
The town-level coordinator will help to integrate both school-based and community-based support.
Schools with students who have attendance issues and other needs can be referred to the coordinator, who will then match the needs of the students and families to appropriate programmes and resources.
Ms Indranee said more than 300 students could benefit from this pilot programme from this year to 2022.
She said: "By improving coordination, we can set up protective factors around the students and their families faster, and address underlying causes of absenteeism earlier."