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9 SPED schools set to lower fees by up to 60% by mid-2025, with teachers' salaries to increase: MOE

Education ministry also announces extension of the KCare Additional Subsidy to all families earning up to $6,000 per month

One of the nine sped schools set to lower their fees is Rainbow Centre (Yishun Park).
One of the nine sped schools set to lower their fees is Rainbow Centre (Yishun Park). (PHOTO: Screengrab/ Google Street)

SINGAPORE — Nine higher-fee Special Education (SPED) schools, serving students with Autism Spectrum Disorder and multiple disabilities, are set to slash fees by up to 60 per cent, benefiting around 3,500 students by mid-2025.

The Ministry of Education (MOE) said this translates to a reduction in the maximum monthly fees from $150 to $90.

The schools included in this fee reduction are AWWA School @ Napiri, Eden School, Eden School (Campus 2), Pathlight School, Rainbow Centre (Margaret Drive), Rainbow Centre (Yishun Park), Rainbow Centre (Admiral Hill), St Andrew's Autism School and St Andrew's Mission School.

Second Minister for Education Maliki Osman made the announcement during his ministry's Committee of Supply budget debate in Parliament on Monday (4 March). He added that the Singapore government has increased funding for SPED schools over the years, and spends more on education per child in a SPED school compared to a mainstream school.

Salary increases for trained SPED teachers and teacher aides

MOE has also announced a phased increase in funding for SPED schools to enhance the average salaries of trained SPED teachers and teacher aides (TAs).

Between 2024 and 2026, existing SPED classroom teachers can expect salary increases of up to 12 per cent, while TAs can anticipate an increase of up to 15 per cent from 2024. By 2026, SPED classroom teachers can expect monthly salaries ranging from $3,000 to over $7,000, while and TAs can expect monthly salaries from $2,000 to over $4,000.

"These salary enhancements will vary depending on individuals' prevailing salaries, and their experience, competencies, job role and work performance. Funding will be provided to SSAs to implement them progressively," Dr Maliki said.

As of December 2023, there are close to 1,700 teachers across the 25 SPED schools in Singapore, with more than half of them possessing a degree. MOE added that, with more schools being set up, the SPED teaching fraternity will need to increase the number of teachers by around 350 by 2030 to meet the needs of the schools.

To strengthen SPED teachers capabilities, the ministry will introduce more professional development programmes aimed at developing expertise in supporting various disability profiles. Each SPED school will also appoint a school staff developer to facilitate the professional growth in all SPED teachers.

Support for lower-income families

Dr Maliki also emphasised ensuring children from lower-income families have access to quality pre-school education. "We know that lower-income families face multi-faceted challenges requiring whole-of-community support, especially in ensuring early access to preschool," he said.

He highlighted efforts to enhance accessibility to MOE Kindergartens (MKs), citing the increase in the household income cap for priority admission from $3,500 to $4,500 last year. Despite the adjustments, preschool fees may still deter some lower-income families from considering enrolment.

While all 55 MKs currently provide KCare, which caters to parents needing full-day care services for their children, the KCare Additional Subsidy eligibility is limited to Singaporean children with working mothers.

To address such barriers, Dr Maliki announced the extension of the KCare Additional Subsidy to all families earning up to $6,000 per month from the fourth quarter of this year. This means families with a gross monthly household income of up to $6,000 will receive subsidies, with those earning $3,000 and below paying as low as $3 a month for MK and KCare.

He hopes this move would encourage preschool enrolment among lower-income families. "This will help narrow the gap in learning and development outcomes of children from lower-income families vis-à-vis their peers," he added.

Second Minister for Education Dr Maliki Osman during the MOE COS on Monday (4 March).
Second Minister for Education, Dr Maliki Osman, spoke during the Ministry of Education Committee of Supply (MOE COS) on Monday (4 March). (PHOTO: MCI/YouTube)

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