More youth pursuing post-sec education: MOE study

More students are pursuing post-secondary education, with Malay students showing the biggest increase among the country's three main ethnic groups, new figures from the Ministry of Education (MOE) show.

Of the 47,256 pupils entering Primary 1 in 2004, 96.5 per cent proceeded to post-secondary education last year.

A decade ago in 2005, just 90.9 per cent of the 1995 Primary 1 cohort made it to post-secondary institutions. The figure stood at 96.3 per cent for 2013, and 95.9 per cent in 2012.

The MOE yesterday released its annual set of data on how students from different ethnic backgrounds have fared over the last 10 years.

Malay students showed the most improvement, with 92.5 per cent of the Primary 1 cohort in 2004 entering post-secondary institutions. This is an increase of 10.8 percentage points compared with the 81.7 per cent in 2005.

The number of Chinese students studying beyond secondary level saw an increase of 4.2 percentage points, while Indian students saw an increase of 9.9 points.

Post-secondary enrolment has been on the rise. Post-secondary institutions included in the study were the junior colleges, polytechnics, the Institute of Technical Education (ITE), art colleges such as the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, and other private education institutions.

Former Education Minister Heng Swee Keat said last year that initiatives such as specialised schools meant to help the academically weak have helped to decrease student dropout rates.

Before NorthLight School and Assumption Pathway School - both of which take in those who failed the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) - were set up, about 60 per cent of pupils who had failed the PSLE would drop out of school.

With the start of the two specialised schools, the figure has been lowered to about 10 per cent to 15 per cent.

Most students who graduate from these two schools move on to the ITE. Those who do not can opt to participate in a two-year work and study programme, where they work three days a week and spend another two days learning modules accredited by the Singapore Workforce Skills Qualifications system.

The MOE report also showed that students fared better at the A levels and the O levels over the years, while PSLE pass rates remained stable.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 21, 2015, with the headline 'More youth pursuing post-sec education: MOE study'. Print Edition | Subscribe