‘Promising’ outcomes in Uplift scheme so far
Better attendance rates, improvement in behaviour among students in initiative
Secondary 2 student Reuben Wong used to shout at his classmates during group activities as he struggled to manage his emotions.
"When they didn't cooperate or do their part, I would be angry," he said.
Tensions got so high that his teachers at Serangoon Secondary School stepped in to help him at the end of last year.
It took five months of counselling and mentorship before his relations with his peers improved, and he is now a school prefect and his grades are improving.
The 14-year-old, who was in a programme that his school started in partnership with Thye Hua Kwan (THK) Moral Charities last year, attributed the changes to a mentor he could relate to.
The programme comes under the larger Uplift Enhanced School Resourcing initiative, which the Ministry of Education (MOE) has piloted in 23 schools since 2019.
These schools get additional resources - such as four or five more teachers - as well as referrals to organisations in the community that can support students with greater needs.
Next year, 24 more schools will join the programme. It will expand to about 100 primary and secondary schools in the next few years.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced last month that about 13,000 students will benefit from the added resources that the schools will receive.
Second Minister for Education Maliki Osman said on Monday that MOE is tracking the progress of students in schemes under the Uplift initiative, in terms of their school attendance, academic results and behaviour.
He said the outcomes have been "very promising".
He was speaking to reporters in his first interview reflecting on the past year as chairman of Uplift, a multi-agency task force set up to support vulnerable students and their families. Uplift stands for Uplifting Pupils in Life and Inspiring Families Taskforce.
Dr Maliki said students who need help vary - from those in financially difficult situations to others with behavioural problems to those who are long-term absentees.
Referring to students who have absenteeism issues, he said: "Schools report to us that they have better attendance rates now."
He added that students with behavioural issues have also shown improvement.
Efforts to strengthen after-school care, especially for students from disadvantaged backgrounds, are paying off, said Dr Maliki, who is also Minister in the Prime Minister's Office.
More primary school pupils have enrolled in school-based student care centres over the past decade, from 3,000 in 2012 to 28,500 this year, he said.
And at the secondary school level, some 9,000 students have been part of a programme known as Gear-Up since its launch in 2019.
The scheme provides a space for those who require more structured after-school supervision, befriending and guidance.
In the interview, Dr Maliki said MOE is also monitoring the progress of these at-risk students in terms of their post-secondary pathways.
"Our hope is that all our students will be able to achieve a higher post-secondary education qualification... We hope that with the early support we're giving these students, they will be able to aspire to minimally attain their Higher Nitec education."