All secondary school students in S'pore to have personal laptop or tablet by 2021: Tharman

Tharman said that good schools are critical to social mobility.

Ashley Tan | June 17, 2020, 09:01 PM

By next year, all students in secondary schools in Singapore will have their own personal learning device, like a laptop or tablet.

This was announced by Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam during a national broadcast on June 17.

His broadcast is the fifth of six delivered by various ministers, including Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, on what a post-Covid-19 landscape will look like for Singaporeans.

Tharman's speech centered around social mobility and the need to strengthen Singapore's social compact in the coming years.

Covid-19 has merely accelerated the widening of social divisions in many countries. The economy has not been spared as well.

To further fortify the country against the threat of unemployment and the impending economic downturn, the Singapore government will be providing opportunities for everyone in terms of education, skills and jobs.

They will also be "keeping social mobility alive" by ensuring students from different backgrounds have access to equal opportunities.

As Tharman, also the Coordinating Minister for Social Policies, highlighted, "good schools are critical to social mobility".

More support for students from disadvantaged backgrounds

Tharman revealed that Education Minister Ong Ye Kung will be accelerating plans to equip all students in secondary schools with their own personal laptop or tablet for learning, by 2021.

This is seven years ahead of MOE's original target.

Ong first made the announcement that all secondary students will have their personal learning device during the Committee of Supply debates on March 4.

As part of a broader effort to provide more support for students from disadvantaged backgrounds, Tharman said MOE will be hiring more teachers, allied educators, student welfare officers, and teacher-counsellors.

Students who are not doing as well in schools will receive support through the UPLIFT programme as well.

"They will strengthen the school teams that support students who are doing less well in primary schools, and our UPLIFT efforts to help those at risk. And they will help students to go as far as they can through the Full Subject-Based Banding system in secondary schools."

This, Tharman emphasised, was to ensure equity for the learning journey of all students.

"We must never become a society where social pedigree and connections count for more than ability and effort...

...When you add up all we are doing, starting from the earliest years of childhood, we are making a determined effort to keep Singapore a place where every individual can do well, regardless of their starting points."

Top photo from Orchid Park Secondary School / FB