Parliament Briefs: Specialised primary schools

Specialised primary schools

Mr Darryl David (Ang Mo Kio GRC) yesterday suggested that the Ministry of Education help set up autonomous, specialised primary schools that could cater to students with different learning needs.

Such students include those with the less severe conditions of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, dyslexia, or Asperger's syndrome, and who may find aspects of mainstream schools challenging, he said.

He added that such schools could be given the freedom to design their own curriculum and hire their own staff with specialised skill sets, among other things.

To allay concerns that this model may be too expensive for some, he suggested mandating a tiered school fee structure that subsidises families who cannot afford full fees.

Direct admission to secondary schools

Workers' Party MP Png Eng Huat (Hougang) proposed a way to ensure more diversity in secondary schools.

This can be done by granting pupils who top their primary school - based on Primary School Leaving Examination results - direct admission to a secondary school of their choice, he said.

Such a move can help to prevent elitism from entrenching itself in popular schools, he added.

"The lack of diversity in our schools is one issue we need to address to tackle the problem of social inequality," he said, adding that education is seen as a key pillar of social mobility.

SkillsFuture for special-needs staff

Ms Denise Phua (Jalan Besar GRC) yesterday turned her attention to adult education, calling for the SkillsFuture movement to be adapted to a "non-traditional workforce" involving people with special needs.

Noting that this is a group that can be tapped for the labour market, she suggested developing SkillsFuture plans for adult Singaporeans most at risk of being left behind.

Competent special schools could also be turned into lifelong learning institutions or Continuing Education and Training providers, to train their alumni or others with similar learning profiles, she added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 17, 2018, with the headline 'Parliament Briefs'. Print Edition | Subscribe