Schools to Implement Home-based Learning on Selected Days Regardless of the Pandemic: Ong Ye Kung
"Education will not be the same post Covid-19. It will be better" - Minister Ong Ye Kung.
In a bid to capitalise on the advantages of Home-based Learning (HBL), including cultivating more independent and self-directed learners, schools will allocate several days a month for online instruction regardless of whether or not the pandemic is present in our midst.
Speaking in his video address to school leaders at the Annual Workplan Seminar on June 25, Minister for Education Ong Ye Kung, noted that while HBL will not replace a school in terms of social interaction, the building of soft skills and values transmission, it fosters one of the most important lifelong skills of independent and self-directed learning.
“The main point is to get students to chart their own learning journey, at their own pace,” the Minister said.
Home-based learning in Singapore
Extended run of HBL on selected days
However, he further added that HBL should not mimic a regular school lesson and should not be crammed with curriculum teaching, and instead should follow a “free-for-all” approach allowing students to focus on whatever they wanted. According to Minister Ong, students may benefit from time to peruse the curriculum themselves, allow them time to read at their own pace, and even explore topics outside the curriculum.
In his video address which was uploaded on Facebook yesterday (June 28), Minister Ong noted that while everyone including teachers, students, and parents, underwent “an unexpected crash course” in remote-learning, he asked to keep the momentum going and to start it off, suggested that HBL could be held every fortnight.
“The sensible thing to do is to complement classroom teaching with HBL, and make HBL a permanent and regular feature of education,” Minister Ong noted.
In a bid to make online remote-learning accessible to all students, the Ministry of Education (MOE) will bring forward the National Digital Literacy Programme to ensure all students have access to appropriate devices and a stable Internet connection at home.
The plan that was unveiled earlier this year detailed that all secondary students would receive a personal learning device by 2028. However, Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam announced last week that MOE will be advancing the plan to ensure that every secondary school students will get a personal laptop or tablet by the end of next year.
“Overnight, all teachers shifted to delivering online lessons… Parents helped to set up spaces at home where their kids could focus on learning. Out of this crisis, and by virtue of necessity, we gained something quite extraordinary – mass acceptance of online learning,” Minister Ong said.
Calling the circuit breaker period a time of the “the universal adoption of digital learning”, Minister Ong noted that this was a step towards digital inclusion and targeting gaps that the Ministry had noticed in certain households during the pandemic.
“Education will not be the same post Covid-19. It will be better,” he noted.
Home-based Learning, and other initiatives to be implemented
In addition to calling for extending Home-based learning on selected days a month, Minister Ong also spoke about financial initiatives in place for students.
Students under The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund were given cash to buy food that they were missing out had they been in school, but many of the students on the programme did not have bank accounts to facilitate banking in of the monies.
According to a survey conducted by the MOE, approximately one-third of Primary 1 pupils do not have bank accounts, pointing out the need to ensure greater financial inclusion and awareness from young.
In a bid to tackle this problem, MOE, along with other ministries and agencies, will look into guiding parents to set up a child savings account, together with the activation of the Child Development Account.
The child savings account will require no minimum balance, fees, or charges, with the MOE looking into possibly including digital payment, to facilitate easier reception of monies from awards or financial assistance for the student.
Schools will further educate students on the topic of financial literacy, including lessons in managing their accounts, budgeting and savings.
The proposed new initiatives will ensure that Singapore’s education system will “roll with the Covid-19 punches, seizing opportunities even in the most difficult of times”, Minister Ong noted.
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