G2 subject to be allowed for polytechnic admission - and other MOE announcements during Budget debate

G2 subject to be allowed for polytechnic admission - and other MOE announcements during Budget debate
Special education teachers will receive higher salaries in the next few years, as part of broader moves to raise the quality of education in the sector.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

SINGAPORE — A wide range of measures covering skills upgrading, special education and arts appreciation were announced in Parliament on March 4.

They were unveiled during the second day of the debate on the Ministry of Education's (MOE) budget.

Here are several highlights:

For students, parents and teachers:

1. More arts and cultural appreciation opportunities

More students will get to attend live music performances at professional concert venues, with the nationwide roll-out of the Performing Arts-Based Learning scheme for secondary schools, following a successful pilot.

Minister of State for Education Gan Siow Huang said the scheme was trialled in 2023 at 22 secondary schools, allowing students to experience such performances that were specially produced and staged at a professional concert venue.

They also had pre- and post-concert music lessons held in class.

MOE and the National Arts Council partnered key cultural institutions and local performing arts groups to make the scheme possible, added Gan.

The scheme will be progressively rolled out to all secondary schools from 2024 to 2027.

2. More sharing between parent support groups

Almost every school today has a parent support group, which has unique and useful experiences that other groups can learn from, noted Gan.

To encourage sharing of these experiences across groups, every parent support group will be part of a Support Circle from 2024, said Gan.

These circles will be made up of parent support group representatives from around 10 schools.

They can decide on the topics to collaborate on, such as supporting parents of children with special education needs or strengthening student mental well-being.

3. Higher salaries for Sped teachers

Special education (Sped) teachers will receive higher salaries in the next few years, as part of broader moves to raise the quality of education in the sector and strengthen support for students with special needs.

Second Minister for Education Maliki Osman said that between 2024 and 2026, Sped classroom teachers can receive salary increases of up to 12 per cent, while teacher aides can receive increases of up to 15 per cent.

From 2024, starting salaries for Sped classroom teachers and teacher aides will increase by up to 15 per cent and 17 per cent, respectively, he said in Parliament on March 4.?

There are currently close to 1,700 Sped teachers and about 800 teacher aides.

4. Lower fees for Sped students

Nine Sped schools are expected to further reduce fees by up to 60 per cent, said Dr Maliki. This comes after six Sped schools with higher fees had lowered their fees by at least 25 per cent in 2020.

The latest move means the maximum monthly fees chargeable for Singaporean students will be reduced from $150 to $90, he said.

The nine schools are Awwa School @ Napiri, both Eden School campuses, Pathlight School, Rainbow Centre at Margaret Drive, Yishun Park and Admiral Hill, as well as St Andrew's Autism School and St Andrew's Mission School. They serve students with autism spectrum disorder and multiple disabilities.

About 3,500 students will benefit from this shift, which will take effect by mid-2025, said Dr Maliki. There are currently about 8,000 students in 25 Sped schools here.

5. Broader admission criteria for polytechnics

From the 2028 intake of polytechnic first-year admissions, students will be able to offer one 'Best' subject at the G2 level, said Dr Maliki.

All students will be assessed on a common benchmark of four G3 subjects and one G2 subject.

Under full subject-based banding, students can take subjects at G1, G2 or G3 subject levels, which are broadly mapped from the Normal (Technical), Normal (Academic) and Express standards respectively.

The current criteria require students to offer five G3 subjects based on English language, two 'Relevant' subjects and two 'Best' subjects (ELR2B2).

From the 2028 intake, students can offer one 'Best' subject taken at either G2 or G3, while the remaining four subjects will still be at the G3 level.

Students who offer both 'Best' subjects at G3 level will have the lower grade mapped from G3 to G2.?

This change will allow students to focus on their strengths and enjoy their learning more, said Dr Maliki.

For companies and workers:

1. More will be able to use Skills Profiler tool

The Skills Profiler tool was piloted with 400 small and medium-sized enterprises in 2023.

The tool, developed by SkillsFuture Singapore and JobKred, allows employers to benchmark the skill sets of their employees against similar jobs in the industry. Companies will then receive customised course recommendations for any skills gaps.

All slots for the pilot were snapped up within seven months, said?Gan.

This tool will be made available to 1,000 more enterprises in 2024, she announced.

2. Workplace Skills Recognition Programme expansion

In 2023, the Workplace Skills Recognition Programme was piloted in selected Progressive Wage Model sectors.

Under this programme, the National Centre of Excellence for Workplace Learning certifies companies that have established workplace learning systems and skills development plans for their staff.

Once certified, the companies can help their employees receive Workforce Skills Qualifications certifications more quickly for the skills they have attained at the workplace.

This programme will be expanded so more employers and workers can benefit, said Gan.

3. Support for external training costs

Gan said employers who decide to send their staff for external training will receive significant support for training costs.

Companies will be able to tap $10,000 of SkillsFuture Enterprise Credit to defray out-of-pocket costs. The credit has been extended to June 2025.

Corporate tax deduction for training has also been enhanced, from 100 per cent to 400 per cent under the Enterprise Innovation Scheme, said Gan.

This will kick in from the 2024 year of assessment.

ALSO READ:?'Removing PSLE will not remove stress': Chan Chun Sing recommends approaching stress with the right mindset

This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.

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