Singapore

Easier way for parents to settle kids' school matters

Parents Gateway to be rolled out to all schools from later part of next year

From paying fees to granting permission for activities, parents can soon settle their children's school matters online.

They will be able to carry out these tasks and more on a new digital platform known as the Parents Gateway, which aims to bring them greater convenience.

The concept, one of the citizen-friendly initiatives announced at the launch of the Government Technology Agency - the agency behind tech transformation in the public sector - last October, has since been tested out at five schools.

It is now undergoing further review before being progressively rolled out to all schools from the later part of next year, the Ministry of Education (MOE) said.

Available via mobile devices or on a Web browser, the platform will allow parents to engage with their children's schools.

For instance, they can receive information about school events, grant permission for their children's participation in activities and carry out transactions such as making payment for school-related programmes.

"The Parents Gateway provides an alternative to paper forms and enables parents to interact with schools more conveniently on key administrative and financial issues," an MOE spokesman said.

The parents interviewed largely welcomed the initiative.

Ms Lim Ren Sing, 45, who has four children aged between eight and 15, said it will streamline the parents' transactions on their children's school matters.

The good thing is that everything can be consolidated onto a single platform and retrieved at the click on a button. Mr Loh Tian How, who has three sons aged 10 to 16

"Sometimes, the kids may forget to ask us to sign their consent forms or they may lose those documents," said Ms Lim, a music teacher.

Mr Loh Tian How, who has three sons aged 10, 13 and 16, said the platform could help parents keep track of activities their children are involved in, such as co-curricular activities and remedial classes.

"The good thing is that everything can be consolidated onto a single platform and retrieved at the click on a button," added the 44-year-old director of an education centre.

"However, a platform is still a platform. The most important thing is how judiciously schools put in the effort to share information."

Observers believe this digital platform is a step in the right direction.

Dr Timothy Chan, director of SIM Global Education's academic division, said schools have to keep pace with the digital world parents live in.

"Parents would like to have access to regular feedback on their child's development in school on a continual and timely basis, which an online system can make possible," he said, adding that the platform can also be a powerful tool to engage busy parents.

National University of Singapore lecturer Kelvin Seah said the online system will likely cut down manual administrative work and reduce the costs incurred by schools.

"Teachers will be better able to focus on their primary roles as educators, rather than be burdened by administrative tasks like collecting consent forms."

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