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Parliament Highlights – 2 September 2019

02 Sep 2019 4 min read

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Consistency in the new PSLE scoring system

The new Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) scoring system for students exempted from taking mother tongue languages (MTLs) will be similar to the current T-score system in terms of secondary school choice and admission, said Second Minister for Education Ms Indranee Rajah.

Speaking in Parliament, Ms Indranee noted that any student who scores 22 or below will qualify for Express course. Under the current T-score system and the new Achievement Leve scoring system, the outcomes are similar.

“Simulations using the most recent PSLE results show that a similar proportion of students with special educational needs (SEN) and are exempted from MTL, would qualify for the Express course under both scoring systems,” said Ms Indranee.

Ms Indranee, who is also Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, said the Education Ministry and schools will support existing MTL-exempt students affected by the new scoring system in their transition by providing advice on their school choices, and to also explore Direct School Admission as an option.

“Fundamentally, we want an education system with multiple pathways and opportunities, so that every child can maximise his or her potential and be placed in good stead for the future,” Ms Indranee added.

Higher pay outs for those under CareShield Life

Parliament has passed the bill the CareShield Life and Long-term Care Bill on 2 September 2019. The bill will take effect next year, for Singaporeans born in 1980 and onwards.

Minister for Health Gan Kim Yong said that CareShield Life, a compulsory long-term disability insurance, will provide universal coverage for Singaporeans, regardless of their health, pre-existing disability or financial status.

Those who are born in 1979 or earlier will also have the option to join the scheme.

Under CareShield Life, Singaporeans with severe disabilities – defined by being unable to perform three or more Activities of Daily Livings (ADLs) such as washing, dressing, feeding, toileting, walking or moving around and also transferring –  will have higher monthly pay outs as compared to existing ElderShield scheme. The payouts will also be in cash, for claimants to have more flexibility when choosing their care arrangement.

Senior Minister of State for Health Edwin Tong also assured the House that the Ministry have put in place measures to help Singaporeans remain healthy for as long as possible. “At the same time, we will continue to invest in infrastructure and the services… to support those who fall into disability,” he added.

Tackling dengue and midges

The National Environment Agency (NEA) will progressively deploy another 14,000 Gravitraps to new HDB blocks and landed estates over the next four months, said Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Mr Masagos Zulkifli

Responding to parliamentary questions on the dengue situation, Mr Masagos said the additional Gravitraps will augment the NEA’s efforts and enhance its surveillance capabilities. This will also allow the NEA to prioritise its resources and deploy officers to focus on areas with a high mosquito population, he added.

As of 24 August 2019, a total of 10,748 dengue cases were reported in Singapore. Mr Masagos said that the rise in cases is attributable to three key factors: an increase in the mosquito population, the relatively warmer weather, and lower immunity among the population.

Mr Masagos shared that the anti-dengue efforts so far have been paying off and urged the community to stay vigilant to keep dengue cases in check.

Separately, Mr Masagos also shared that national water agency PUB will step up its measures to stamp out the midges outbreak at Pandan Reservoir.

Some of the measures taken by PUB include greasing of drain walls to trap midges and placing extra netting on reservoir dykes to capture adult midges that might be blown into residential estates. Additionally, the agency will also increase the frequency of fogging and misting to kill adult midges.

Supporting the Singaporean workforce

For Singapore to develop its tech eco-system, skilled foreign tech professionals are needed to complement the local workforce, said Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing.

Responding to questions regarding the Tech@SG, the Government programme that helps tech firms hire foreign talent, Mr Chan said that having skilled foreign workers in the specialised and growing tech industry will help grow opportunities for locals, and at the same time deepen their skills. 

“In a world where multi-sectoral, cross-discipline and cross-cultural teams are increasingly common, Singaporeans must learn how to work with people from all around the world,” said Mr Chan. He also said that working with people from around the world will increase the competitiveness of the individual and make them more attractive to employers.

Separately, Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad, who shared statistics on employment for persons with disabilities (PWDs), said that based on the annual Comprehensive Labour Force Survey, 3 in 10 PWDs between the ages of 15 to 64 are employed. 

The sectors that employ the most PWDs are community, social and personal services, food services, administrative and support services and also manufacturing. 

On the effectiveness of government schemes that help companies and employers hire PWDs, Mr Zaqy said, “More than 5,700 employers hiring over 8,600 Singaporeans with disabilities benefitted from SEC (Special Employment Credit). This number has increased from 2012, when SEC was paid to around 3,200 employers hiring 5,000 Singaporeans with disabilities.” 

He also added that employers and PWDs can tap on employment support services and programmes under the Adapt and Grow initiative including the Open Door Programme and Career Trial. Furthermore, schemes like the Workfare Income Supplement (WIS) and the Workfare Training Support (WTS) are also extended to PWDs. More Singaporeans with disabilities have benefitted from these schemes, he added.

Image: Ministry of Education Facebook