MOE to deploy more counsellors, 2021 exam scope reduced: Chan Chun Sing

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Education Minister Chan Chun Sing delivering his Ministerial Statement on the River Valley High School incident in Parliament on 27 July 2021. (SCREENSHOT: Ministry of Communications and Information/YouTube)
Education Minister Chan Chun Sing delivering his Ministerial Statement on the River Valley High School incident in Parliament on 27 July 2021. (SCREENSHOT: Ministry of Communications and Information/YouTube)

SINGAPORE — The Ministry of Education (MOE) aims to deploy more than 1000 teacher-counsellors across Singapore in the next few years, said Education Minister Chan Chun Sing in Parliament on Tuesday (27 July).

This is an increase from the over 700 teacher counsellors that MOE has deployed in schools.

Chan announced the measure while delivering his Ministerial Statement on the River Valley High School (RVHS) incident where a 13-year-old student was found dead on RVHS' premises. A 16-year-old student of RVHS has been charged with murder.

“First, we will strengthen the support network in our schools. All teachers will receive enhanced professional development on mental health literacy as a baseline. This will further strengthen our ability to identify and support students in need,” Chan said.

All schools currently have at least one school-counsellor, while some have two, Chan said. MOE will recruit more school counsellors or assign suitable educators to augment the counselling support network where feasible, he added.

The authorities will also dedicate more time and attention to checking in on the well-being of students regularly.

“Schools currently have orientation programmes for new students at the start of every school year. Henceforth, teachers will devote time at the start of every school term to check in on the well-being of their students, and guide them to know how, where and when to get help,” Chan said.

Due to the disruptions to learning caused by COVID, MOE will remove the Common Last Topics (CLT) from the 2021 GCE examinations. Last month, MOE had announced the removal of the CLT for the 2021 Primary School Leaving Examination.

The Delta variant of the COVID virus has created much greater disruptions than envisaged and has affected the social and emotional well-being of students, Chan said.

“We are especially concerned for the graduating cohorts, and so we will also remove the CLT from the 2021 GCE O-, N- and A-level examinations. While these topics would have already been taught in schools, removing them from the national examinations would help to relieve the revision load and exam stress for our students.”

For the non-graduating students, all schools will also reduce the scope for their 2021 end-of-year examinations to alleviate their revision load, Chan added.

Whole-of-Government/Whole-of-Society approach

The Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Social and Family Development have set up a new interagency Taskforce, chaired by Dr Janil Puthucheary, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Communications and Information & Ministry of Health, Chan said.

The Taskforce will develop an overarching national strategy on mental health and well-being. As a member of this Taskforce, MOE will work with MOH and MSF to give focus to the youth segment, Chan said.

Students are influenced by factors in and beyond school and the tragic incident could have happened outside of school as well, according to Chan. 

"We will therefore need a whole-of-society effort to keep our children, families and community safe to avoid such a tragic incident from happening again."

If you are feeling distressed, you can call SOS' 24-hour hotline at 1800 221 4444. You can also email pat@sos.org.sg.

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