Parliament: MOE has process to vet external vendors, says Heng

Parliament: MOE has process to vet external vendors, says Heng

The Ministry of Education (MOE) has a vetting process to evaluate external vendors before schools engage them to run enrichment programmes, Education Minister Heng Swee Keat said in Parliament yesterday.

This includes interviewing potential instructors, looking into their background, taking feedback from other organisations that previously engaged them, or asking for a lesson observation, he said.

Mr Lim Biow Chuan (Mountbatten), who chairs the Government Parliamentary Committee for Education, and Mr Zaqy Mohamad (Chua Chu Kang GRC) had asked about the vetting process, after a controversy last month over a relationship programme offered by an external vendor.

Hwa Chong Institution student Agatha Tan, 17, had gone on Facebook to criticise the programme by Focus on the Family Singapore, a pro-family Christian charity, for being sexist and reinforcing gender stereotypes.

Although this case was not specifically mentioned yesterday, Mr Heng said the ministry discourages students from providing comments on social media.

He added: "There is an existing channel for students to provide feedback to teachers to see how classes can continue to be improved."

Yesterday, Mr Heng also spoke about why schools engage external vendors.

They do so for enrichment programmes such as sports and social skills when there is value in tapping "the external expertise of those with the prerequisite professional training or relevant life experiences to complement the teacher's role", he said.

Schools may get their teachers to conduct the enrichment programmes and workshops after they have built their own expertise in a defined area, the minister said.

This article was first published on Nov 4, 2014.
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