'Grade' changes in store for students
Parliament sat for the fifth day yesterday, as MPs discussed issues affecting the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Manpower in the Committee of Supply debates.
A collective paradigm shift is needed to move away from an excessive emphasis of grades, said Acting Education Minister (Schools) Ng Chee Meng yesterday.
Mr Ong Ye Kung, Acting Education Minister (Higher Education and Skills), spoke about allowing students' interests to be matched with their course of study as much as possible so that they make it a lifetime pursuit and achieve mastery.
Here are changes that will affect students at different stages:
WIDER BANDS FOR PSLE SCORING
The Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) T-score will be replaced with wider scoring bands in 2021, affecting this year's Primary 1 cohort.
This will give all schools time to develop their distinctive strengths and niche programmes as the change will impact secondary school posting.
Details about the changes to PSLE scoring - which will resemble the system adopted by O and A levels - will be released in the next two to three months.
Mr Ng said: "A student may score one point more than his friend, but educationally that one point does not mean he is better prepared for secondary school than his friend.
"It also does not mean he is very much smarter or will grow up to be more capable or lead a more successful or fulfilling life.
"We should, in time, move away from such fine distinctions, which are not meaningful, especially at this young age."
All primary schools will also have school-based student care centres by 2020.
DSA FOCUS SHARPENED
The Direct School Admission (DSA), which was first introduced in 2004, will be reviewed.
Students with specific aptitudes and talents will be able to select from a larger range of secondary schools.
The focus of the DSA will also be sharpened to better recognise talents and achievements in specific domains, rather than general academic ability that can be demonstrated through the PSLE.
Separately, all Secondary 3 students will go for a new five-day Outward Bound Singapore (OBS) expedition-based camp by 2020.
The new OBS campus will be built on Coney Island and camp facilities at the MOE Outdoor Adventure Learning Centres will be upgraded.
MORE HOLISTIC POLY ASSESSMENTS
At polytechnics, a total of 75 courses - or one-third of the total courses - will admit up to 50 per cent of their students based on more holistic aptitude-based assessments.
The Direct Polytechnic Admissions, which will be renamed the Early Admissions Exercise, will increase its intake from 2.5 per cent to 12.5 per cent. The Joint Polytechnic Special Admissions Exercise will be part of the new exercise.
There will be a new aptitude-based admissions exercise for students progressing from the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) to polys.
At universities, the discretionary admissions intake allowance for the National University Singapore, Nanyang Technological University and Singapore Management University will increase from 10 per cent to 15 per cent.
The changes will be implemented next year.
NEW PROGRAMMES FOR ITE, POLY
Another 20 new Earn and Learn Programmes (ELP) will be available to ITE and poly graduates.
This will bring the total number of ELPs to 37, covering 22 sectors.
There will also be a new ELP pathway that will allow ITE graduates to work towards a full, part-time polytechnic diploma.
"A student may score one point more than his friend, but educationally that one point does not mean he is better prepared for secondary school than his friend."
- Acting Education Minister (Schools) Ng Chee Meng
More measures to strengthen workforce
UPGRADING: Visitors at a roadshow for the SkillsFuture Credit programme at One Raffles Place in February. - ST FILE PHOTO
The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) announced plans to support Singaporeans of different jobs and ages.
FOR PROFESSIONALS, MANAGERS, EXECUTIVES AND TECHNICIANS (PMETS)
- The Career Support Programme currently offers wage support to employers who hire Singaporean PMETs aged 40 years and above and unemployed for more than six months.
It will now be extended to younger PMETs - aged 40 and below - who have been unemployed for more than six months, and all retrenched PMETs aged 40 years and above.
For the first six months, the Government will provide wage support of 20 per cent of the gross monthly salary, capped at $1,400 a month. Employers need only provide 80 per cent.
- The Professional Conversion Programme (PCP) allows PMET job seekers to reskill themselves in a different sector or job scope. Individuals are employed by companies and go through a period of structured training to acquire new skills.
The PCPs will be available to over 20 sectors from the current 10 sectors.
There will be enhanced salary support of 90 per cent, capped at $4,000 a month, for Singaporean PMETs who have been unemployed for more than six months, and Singaporean PMETs aged 40 and above.
- Under the P-Max scheme, small and medium-sized enterprises will get a one-time $5,000 grant if they successfully implement recommended human resource processes and retain PMETs for at least six months.
They aim to place nearly 1,500 PMETs with SMEs each year.
- The processing of applications for Employment Pass (extended to foreigners who earn $3,300 and above) will be refined. Companies that display weak commitment to recruit and develop local PMETs can have their Work Pass privileges suspended.
FOR RANK-AND-FILE WORKERS
- Place and train programmes will increase. Participating employers will get salary support of 70 per cent capped at $2,000 a month and a course fee subsidy of up to 90 per cent.
- The Work-Trial programme, which helps individuals to be attached to companies for on-the-job training while exploring if they are a fit for permanent employment, will be enhanced.
The workers' training allowance will increase from $4.50 to $7.50 an hour. Retention incentive for trainees who stay on the job for over three months will increase from $300 to $500.
FOR OLDER WORKERS
- Re-employment age will be raised from 65 to 67 by July next year.
- Remove provision in law that will allow wage to be cut at the age of 60.
BY THE NUMBERS
Amount of funds disbursed for SkillsFuture credits
Skills future by the numbers
Number of Singaporeans who have utilised their SkillsFuture Credit from January to March
Percentage of those aged 60 and above who used their credits
Number of eligible courses, from 10,000 in January