Budget 2019 debate

Parliament: Hefty subsidies in education to help all level up

On average, every child entering Primary 1 in 2018 would have received over $130,000 in education subsidies by the time he completes secondary school.

Those who go on to post-secondary education receive another $15,000 to $22,000 for every year they remain in school, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat told the House yesterday, as he underlined how the Government invests heavily in ensuring high-quality education is affordable and available to all.

And there will be no let-up in efforts to do more for Singapore's young, he added.

"We have been investing more in pre-school - to make pre-school education better, more accessible, and affordable especially for the lower income. This will help our children build a solid foundation from an even younger age," Mr Heng said in his wrap-up of three days of debate on the Budget.

Helping Singaporeans from all walks of life by empowering them and building their capacity is one of the key principles of the Budget which the minister termed the "Singapore way". There are specific forms of help targeted to assist workers, the less well-off and seniors.

As for the young, education is kept affordable. Mr Heng said: "Parents pay $13 each month, per child, in primary school fees. This is possible due to the significant subsidies provided to every child."

A quality education is also provided for all, and not just for top achievers or those who are better-off, he added. Last year, the Government provided at least 60 per cent more in resources for primary school pupils with a weaker foundation in literacy and numeracy, through learning support programmes in schools.

To maximise students' pathways, there are specialised schools catering to the needs of Normal (Technical) students, or those with interests in science and technology, or the arts or sports, he added.

Mr Heng said he agreed with Nominated MP Lim Sun Sun, who spoke on Tuesday on the need to help students develop "cross-cultural, digital and ethical" competencies. Singapore's schools provide this holistic education by making available co-curricular activities and other programmes, all of which are heavily funded by the Education Ministry. There are also awards to recognise students who demonstrate excellence in areas beyond their academic performance.

As for learning about other cultures, the Global Ready Talent Programme, for example, helps students at institutes of higher learning to intern with Singapore firms overseas.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 01, 2019, with the headline Hefty subsidies in education to help all level up. Subscribe