MOE-organised Gifted Education Programme (GEP) has ceased with the introduction of the of Integrated Programmes (IP) schools in 2004, and the establishment of the NUS High School of Math and Science in 2005.
These schools cater to the learning needs of GEP and other high-ability students through school-based programmes.
The Minister for Education, Dr Ng Eng Hen stated this in his written Parliamentary reply to MP Dr Fatimah Lateef's queries on the plans for the GEP in secondary schools.
Dr Lateef also asked how successful schools have been with the GEP students in terms of promoting their greater interaction with mainstream students by intermingling them for non-core subjects such as physical education, art and music at Primary 4 and 5 levels.
Below are Dr Ng's replies to these questions, in full:
Dr Ng Eng Hen:
The Gifted Education Programme is one of many ways we have to discover talent and take it as far as possible. At the primary level, GEP pupils are placed in separate classes in designated schools and stretched and challenged through a differentiated curriculum.
Although the programme was working well, the intermingling initiative was introduced in 2007 to achieve a better balance between stretching the potential of the pupils and integrating them with other pupils. Apart from participation in CCAs and joint Community Involvement Projects, GEP and other pupils also attend the same classes in subjects like PE, Music and Art. This will enable GEP pupils and their non-GEP peers to maintain regular contact and develop closer bonds with their schoolmates through meaningful shared experiences.
All 9 GEP schools have provided positive feedback on the intermingling initiative.
Both pupils and parents have found intermingling beneficial.
With GEP and mainstream pupils spending more curriculum time together, engaging in hands-on activities as well as exchange of ideas and personal experiences, pupils have developed meaningful friendships. For example, as pupils are in mixed PE classes, they had to form mixed teams to represent the classes in competitions at the School Sports Day, and this has been invaluable in building team work.
Schools have also made it a point to organize pupils in mixed groups for school camps, outings and Community Involvement Programme (CIP) projects. This also provides opportunities for both groups to have a better understanding of their strengths and weaknesses, and learn to appreciate each other's talents.
We are encouraged by the positive feedback, and will continue with our efforts to promote intermingling of GEP and mainstream pupils.
At the secondary level, GEP classes used to be organised by MOE. These were hosted in selected schools. Since the introduction of Integrated Programmes (IP) schools in 2004 and the establishment of NUS High School of Math and Science in 2005, MOE-organised GEP has ceased as such schools could cater to the learning needs of GEP and other high-ability students through school-based programmes.
The small number of GEP pupils who prefer the 'O' Level track may enrol in schools like Anglo-Chinese School (Independent), Catholic High School, Methodist Girls' School, Singapore Chinese Girls' School, and St Joseph's Institution, which offer school-based talent development programmes.
MOE, with its rich experience of running the GEP, now plays a major role in providing training for IP and specialised school teachers and the sharing of resources and expertise in educating the intellectually able.
Gifted education remains an integral part of Singapore's education system, and will continue to evolve to cater to students who are intellectually gifted and talented to ensure they reach their maximum potential. MOE will continue to play a key role in supporting schools to deliver school-based gifted education programmes. What we aim to achieve is a diversity of such programmes.