MP for Aljunied GRC, Mr Chen Show Mao spoke in parliament on Thursday, to urge the Ministry of Education (MOE) to offer more exchange programs for more students to participate in.
Mr Chen says, “At present, the Ministry of Education offers an ASEAN scholarship programme to citizens of some ASEAN countries to undertake studies in our local schools at the pretertiary and undergraduate levels. The Ministry gives out around 150 pre-tertiary and 170 undergraduate ASEAN scholarships each year, at about $14,000 for a pre-tertiary student and between $18,000 and $25,000 for an undergraduate.”
He repeated what Education Minister, Mr Heng Swee Keat had said earlier about the ASEAN scholarships, that it is being offered to promising ASEAN students to promote mutual understanding and good will in the region. And that students who interact with international students would enjoy the opportunity to learn from other cultures and expereinces and be more prepare for the global market.
He says that the aim of the Education Minister to foster closer understanding and goodwill can be achieved by offering similar opportunities to Singaporean students to study in neighbouring countries similar to the ASEAN scholarships, and also to have more Singaporen students to study the region around the country which is similar to the current Regional Studies Programme.
Besides learning through the interactions, Mr Chen said that Singaporean students will also benefit from the diversity of educational institutions in the neighbouring countries.
He therefore asked if programmes of such can be expanded to allow more students, both at the secondary and university, so that they could be given the opportunity to learn more about Singapore’s surrounding region.
He also asked if MOE could offer more chances for students to go on visits to and take part in exchange programmes with the neighbouring countries. He feels that by encouraging more of such exchanges to take place at the individual level through scholarship studies, the government will help to facilitate Singapore’s foreign relations through the students’ engagement with their peers in other countries.