SINGAPORE - Junior colleges (JCs) and Millennia Institute can choose to tap the Ministry of Education's (MOE's) bulk tender to purchase personal learning devices (PLDs) for their students, said MOE on Tuesday night (Dec 29).
This follows the announcement made earlier that day that all secondary and junior college students will undertake home-based learning at least two days a month from the third term of next year.
However, the roll-out of PLDs by the end of 2021 applies only to secondary school students and not their JC counterparts.
The devices - either tablets or laptops - will be chosen by each secondary school from a range of models selected by MOE.
This flexible arrangement will allow different schools to choose a device that best supports their teaching and the learning needs of their students.
A ministry spokesman said on Tuesday night that each JC has developed its own approach to using digital devices for educational purposes.
He added that the use of such devices has grown significantly over time.
MOE will continue to support JCs and Millennia Institute with resources and train teachers to effectively use tablets and laptops, said the spokesman.
MOE said on Tuesday its bulk tender will lower the cost for students but did not state how much each device will cost them.
It said cost will depend on the PLDs selected by the school and emphasised that expected out-of-pocket expenses from students will be kept to a minimum as students may use their Edusave account to buy the devices.
Under current Edusave disbursement rates, secondary students receive $290 a year, amounting to between $1,160 and $1,450 for four to five years of education, while primary pupils will receive $230 per year, totalling $1,380 over six years.
On top of these, a one-off $200 top-up was given to all primary and secondary students in April.
For Singaporean students on the MOE Financial Assistance Scheme, further assistance will be provided, said MOE, in the form of a subsidy before the student's Edusave funds are tapped.
Should the Edusave balance still fail to cover the remaining device cost, MOE said it will provide further subsidies to these students to bring their out-of-pocket expenses to zero.
The MOE spokesman said on Wednesday (Dec 30) that students who wish to use their own devices must have them meet specifications stated by the school.
They must also allow the school to install a device management application on their device, similar to that installed on school-selected devices.
The application allows schools and parents to monitor device usage by restricting certain applications from being accessible by students, managing screen time and allowing the teacher to monitor students’ screens during the lesson.
If parents have any questions about the devices, they can approach their child’s teachers or school leaders for assistance, said the spokesman.
Without naming specific device models, MOE said on Tuesday that its selected range has different operating systems and specifications, all of which support the running of key applications like the ministry's Singapore Student Learning Space portal.
It added that the PLDs will last long enough to cover each students' time in secondary school.