SINGAPORE - About 44,000 students will benefit when transport and meal subsidies for needy children in primary and secondary schools and bursaries for pre-university students are increased from January 2023.
The subsidies fall under the Ministry for Education (MOE) Financial Assistance Scheme, which helps to cover the cost of basic schooling expenses such as meal and transport subsidies.
In a statement on Wednesday (Aug 24), MOE said one of the enhancements will look at increasing current subsidies from $2 per school meal for seven meals a week for primary school to $2.60.
Secondary school meal subsidies will increase from $2.90 per school meal for 10 meals a week to $3.50.
Next year, school bus operators will be able to ask for a one-time fare hike, which MOE has capped at 7 per cent.
This, the ministry said, will allow operators to continue providing transport services to students while keeping their operations sustainable.
MOE said: "School bus fares are set by the bus operators through a competitive bidding process with the respective schools, with a pricing cap that is fixed for a number of years.
"The rise in fuel and manpower costs in recent months has made it more challenging for school bus operators to sustain their operations at pricing caps that had been fixed before the recent rise in fuel prices."
Bus operators will inform parents and guardians of any revisions to fares from September 2022, so that parents and guardians can plan for transport arrangements in the new school year.
MOE said it will continue to monitor developments and work closely with school bus operators to ensure that fares are kept affordable for students.
In a Facebook post on Wednesday, Education Minister Chan Chun Sing said he benefited from scholarships, bursaries and subsidies during his school years and understood the impact of this kind of support.
“We hope that the increased assistance for schooling, transport and meal expenses will give students from lower-income households greater peace of mind, and support them in maximising their potential,” he wrote in the post.
MP of Pioneer, Mr Patrick Tay, who chairs the Government Parliamentary Committee for Education, said he welcomed MOE’s move to enhance support for students.
“All this will help alleviate the rising costs and inflation impacting our students as prices of foodstuff and essentials for school are on the rise.”