MOE to reward good character

SINGAPORE - The Ministry of Education's (MOE's) Edusave Award, which is tilted towards academic achievement, will no longer be exclusive to students with good grades.

In line with a renewed emphasis on nurturing students with good values and character, an Edusave Character Award will be introduced to also recognise students who excel in these areas, Education Minister Heng Swee Keat said during the Committee of Supply debate yesterday.

The award will range from $200 to $500, depending on the student's level of education. It will benefit up to 10,000 Singaporean students from early next year.

"As we place more emphasis on holistic education and character development", it is time for us to realign "our recognition framework", said Mr Heng.

Virtues such as resilience, tenacity, integrity, care and respect are among the values he highlighted during the debate.

Mr Heng also said that financial support will be expanded to let more students qualify for assistance.

The MOE's Financial Assistance Scheme (FAS) will be tweaked to the potential benefit of 40,000 students.

Students from households with a gross monthly income of $2,500 can now qualify for the scheme, up from the $1,500 ceiling previously. Applications under the revised scheme will open today.

To benefit students from larger families, MOE will introduce a per capita income of $625 per month as a parallel criterion.

This means that a family of six with a monthly income of $3,600, or a per capita income of $600 per month, will now be eligible for the FAS.

To further support school- based financial assistance, MOE will provide each school with additional annual grants of up to $15,000 for the next three years.

"This will allow schools to provide additional targeted support in specific ways or to students who might have just missed the FAS criteria," said Mr Heng, adding that schools know best "their students' needs".

Besides financial assistance for needy students, MOE will also boost accessibility to after- school care centres, which provide additional supervision and guidance to students after school.

The ministry will increase the number of school-based, student-care centres in primary schools to 70 by 2014, up from the current 57.

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