The Ministry of Education’s (MOE) Financial Assistance Scheme will be enhanced by increasing the annual bursary amount from $900 to $1000 for the pre-university students from low-income families, said Finance Minister, Heng Swee Keat in his budget speech on Tuesday (18 February).
The scheme enhancements which also include the increase of transport subsidies for all students and school meals subsidies for secondary school students will cost an additional $9 million per year, bringing to a total of $52 million per year.
During the budget speech, Finance Minister noted that Singaporeans education is already “heavily subsidised” in their primary to pre-university school years.
“Primary school is free for all Singaporeans, while the secondary school fee is $5 a month. Students pay only a few dollars of miscellaneous fees,” Mr Heng said.
Apart from that, the government will also enhance the bursaries for full-time Institute of Technical Education (ITE) students from the 2020 academic year.
On top of the cash bursary, students from households who qualify under the lowest income tier for the bursaries will now receive 100% fee subsidies.
Mr Heng added that the bursaries enhancement will also benefit the students from low- and middle-income families where they can receive cash bursary increase up to $200 a year.
It was noted that the bursaries for higher education are on top of the subsidies provided to all Singaporeans, which can be seen in the rising of bursaries cost–from $148 million per year to $198 million per year.
Meanwhile, for the pre-school subsidies, Mr Heng said that the subsidies will be significantly increased and available to more families from this year.
The share of government-supported pre-school places will increase from just over 50% today to 80% by around 2025, Mr Heng noted, saying that government support is doubling for the pre-school years.
“In 2018, the Government spent about $1 billion on the early childhood sector. Within the next few years, this will double to over $2 billion per year,” Mr Heng added.
Mr Heng concluded that a Singaporean child will receive over $180,000 of education subsidies by the time they turn 16, which include about $50,000 in government subsidies over five years when they enrol in a full-day childcare programme with one of the Anchor Operators.
Not forgetting those from less-privileged backgrounds, Mr Heng said, there are additional subsidies for pre-school, bursaries, and other financial assistance schemes.
Mr Heng noted that the government has been providing significant education subsidies for every child as they believe a good education lays a strong foundation for a better future.
“The substantial investment is to maximise every child’s potential, regardless of family circumstances. This is a promise that I, as a former Education Minister and now Finance Minister, am committed to keep,” Mr Heng added.