Education expenditure increased by 40 per cent in 5 years: Minister Heng

Education expenditure increased by 40 per cent in 5 years: Minister Heng

SINGAPORE - Expenditure on education has increased over the past five years by 40 per cent,  with annual expenditure at $10.5 billion in FY2012, said Education Minister Heng Swee Keat. This constitutes more than 20 per cent of government expenditure, Mr Heng added.

Mr Heng was responding to a question posed in Parliament by Nominated MP Janice Koh on how the government's annual expenditure on education compares to the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) average and countries like Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, which score highly on the international assessment, PISA.

Here is the written reply in full:

Ms Janice Koh: To ask the Minister for Education how does Singapore's annual Government expenditure on education compare with the OECD average and countries that score high on the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) such as Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

Mr Heng Swee Keat:

The Government invests significantly in education to provide every child the opportunity to develop to his fullest potential. Expenditure on education has increased over the past five years by 40% - from $7.5 billion in FY2007 to $10.5 billion in FY2012, equivalent to 3.1% of our GDP, and accounting for more than 20% of government expenditure.

While OECD countries and other top performing education systems (as measured by PISA) spend between 4 - 7% of GDP on education, but because their governments tax and spend more as a percentage of GDP, expenditure on education makes up, on average, only about 13% of their government expenditure - significantly less than Singapore.

Beyond input factors, we also need to focus on educational outcomes. Recent OECD findings show that higher expenditure does not guarantee better student performance. The key to good outcomes for our students lies in the quality of teachers and the effective deployment of resources across the system.

For example, Singapore students were ranked fifth in Reading, second in Mathematics and fourth in Science in the most recently published PISA results (2009), performing better than the OECD average, despite Singapore spending a lower percentage of GDP on education.

More importantly, more than 95% of our students progress on to post-secondary education institutes (PSEIs), building on the strong foundations acquired in 10 years of good quality basic education.

candicec@sph.com.sg

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