Education has long been acknowledged as a great social leveller, and the policies announced in this year's National Day Rally address will go some way to make sure this remains so in Singapore. Increased funding will make pre-school and tertiary education more accessible. The monthly income ceiling for additional pre-school subsidies will go up from $7,500 to $12,000, benefiting 30,000 more families. Government spending, at $1 billion in this sector, will more than double over the next few years. Today, 50 per cent of pre-school places are government-supported. This will go up to 80 per cent. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's announcements at the rally are the latest in a raft of measures in recent years that together aim to make quality, affordable pre-school education accessible like public housing and healthcare.
This represents a major and welcome shift in thinking on the part of the Government, consistent with recent research demonstrating that quality pre-school enhances a child's school and work life, and spending in this area should be seen as an investment in a nation's future. The Government is also increasing bursaries for poorer students at universities and polytechnics, spending $44 million more - from $123 million to $167 million. Top-tier bursaries for poorest students in the bottom 20 per cent of household income will cover 95 per cent of polytechnic and 75 per cent of university fees. So, needy poly students pay at most $150 of the $2,900 annual fees, instead of the $550 they pay now. Needy university students pay $2,000 a year, down from $4,200. The full fee for a general degree is $8,200.