SINGAPORE: By 2023, all primary schools in Singapore will have an Applied Learning Programme (ALP), Minister for Education (Schools) Ng Chee Meng announced in Parliament on Monday (Mar 5).
Speaking during his ministry’s Committee of Supply debate, Mr Ng said the Education Ministry (MOE) will also support schools with ALPs to further enhance and strengthen their capabilities and programmes. “This is an investment worth making to nurture innovation and creativity,” he said. “And importantly, prepare our children for the future.”
Since 2017, more than 80 primary schools of the 191 in Singapore have an ALP. ALPs are programmes designed by schools to help students apply their learning to the real world.
Mr Ng said schools have been encouraged to develop ALPs since 2013, and currently, all secondary schools have such a programme. “It is a diverse, colourful and exciting landscape, catering to a wide range of interests: STEM, languages, humanities, business, entrepreneurship, aesthetics, inter-disciplinary fields,” he said. “All the ALPs, importantly, encourage exploration, ideation and creativity.
There are no tests or exams. I have emphasised this to MOE. Students learn through experimentation – they try, fail, try, learn from it and try again.”
Mr Ng added that the new Science Centre will play a key role in providing applied learning experiences for all students when it is completed by the mid-2020s. He also noted that MOE will make another “major investment” and put aside a “significant budget” to develop the new Science Centre.
“It will bring science to life – through immersive and interactive exhibits and experiences,” he said. “It will partner home-grown and international companies to provide a wide range of programmes for our students and youth – hands-on maker workshops, experiments in specialised laboratories and opportunities for mentorship and research.”
In a press release providing more details on applied learning, MOE added that by next year, more than 50 schools will offer MOE Applied Subjects at O-Level, and 30 schools will offer MOE-ITE Applied Subjects at Normal (Technical)-Level.
These subjects, which are examinable at the O and N-Level, include electronics, exercise and sports science, drama and mobile robotics. Currently, 49 secondary schools offer Applied Subjects, and 18 secondary schools offer MOE-ITE Applied Subjects, said MOE.
ENHANCEMENTS TO FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE SCHEME TO BENEFIT AROUND 90,000 STUDENTS
In his speech, Mr Ng also said that more will be done for students from lower income families by enhancing the MOE Financial Assistance Scheme. Singaporean students at the primary to pre-university levels who need assistance can tap on the scheme, he said.
The income criteria will be raised, said Mr Ng, from S$2,500 in gross household income per month to S$2,750. Similarly, the monthly per capita income, which benefits larger families, will be raised from S$625 to S$690. About 6,000 more Singaporean students are expected to benefit from this increase in the income criteria, MOE said.
Mr Ng also gave more details on the enhancements to the School Meals Programme, which were earlier announced in Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat’s Budget speech. He said 10 meals will be provided for secondary school students under the programme, up from seven currently.
He added that overall, with the enhancements, the various financial assistance schemes will cost the Government close to S$100 million per year, and benefit around 90,000 students in total.