Committeeof Supply debate: Ministry of Education

Ideas of the day

Kuik Shiao-Yin
Kuik Shiao-Yin
Daniel Goh
Daniel Goh
Mr Desmond Choo
Mr Desmond Choo
Mr Patrick Tay
Mr Patrick Tay
Mr Zainal Sapari
Mr Zainal Sapari

Yesterday's debate on the spending plans of the Education and Manpower ministries saw MPs discuss ways to enhance learning in schools and assist workers in the uncertain economic climate. Chong Zi Liang lists five ideas that stood out.

REDESIGN REPORT CARDS

Nominated MP Kuik Shiao-Yin suggested that school report cards be redesigned to give more space to non-academic attributes so as to signal their equal importance in students' development.

Acting Education Minister (Schools) Ng Chee Meng said this was already being done as a "holistic development profile" included in report cards at the end of the year. It reflects a student's achievement in different programmes and describes the child's qualities like responsibility and teamwork.

SPECIALISED TEACHERS FOR THE UNDERPRIVILEGED

A corps of teachers specialising in educating underprivileged students should be set up, Non-Constituency MP Daniel Goh said. They can be trained in a one-year diploma programme that includes counselling, cultural sensitivity and teaching for social mobility. Acting Education Minister (Schools) Ng Chee Meng replied that Singapore, as a small country, is able to centrally train and deploy teachers to ensure their quality. A special group of educators to deal with disadvantaged children is therefore not needed.

LIST OF SKILLSFUTURE COURSES SHOULD HAVE RECOMMENDATIONS

Mr Desmond Choo (Tampines GRC) suggested an online system that would recommend SkillsFuture courses to individuals based on their preferences. It should allow peer reviews to differentiate the quality of courses and better guide Singaporeans, he said.

Acting Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) Ong Ye Kung said the Singapore Workforce Development Agency and the Employment and Employability Institute already have career coaches to give guidance. Ultimately, there should be time, space and freedom for individuals to explore and make their own decisions, he said.

STRICTER RULES TO ENSURE SINGAPOREAN CORE

Mr Patrick Tay (West Coast GRC) proposed a series of tougher rules for firms that have a low proportion of Singaporean employees and that lack commitment to hiring and developing Singaporeans. For instance, stricter Employment Pass (EP) application conditions and requirements can be enforced on these firms. Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say said firms that are weak in developing a Singaporean core, among other areas, will face difficulties renewing EPs of existing workers and getting new ones.

MANDATORY 13TH MONTH BONUS IN SOME SECTORS

Mr Zainal Sapari (Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC) wanted the annual wage supplement, or 13th month bonus, and the annual increment to be made mandatory for workers in the cleaning, security and landscape sectors, many of whom are poorly paid.

Minister of State for Manpower Sam Tan said such a move would have an impact on not only the workers, but also employers and the industries.

The tripartite committees responsible for the welfare of workers in those sectors will study if the proposal is feasible, taking into account workers' interests and economic conditions, he added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 09, 2016, with the headline 'Ideas of the day'. Print Edition | Subscribe