40 more student care centres by end of next year

Student care centres, which provide before- and after-school services like homework supervision for pupils, are set to become a standard feature in primary schools here.

Forty more of these centres will be introduced by the end of next year, bringing the total to 120.

In all, two-thirds of Singapore's primary schools will have these centres, Education Minister Heng Swee Keat told Parliament on Friday.

Currently, the 80 centres are used by about 7,500 pupils.

Sited within their schools, they provide meals for the pupils, who are supervised on their schoolwork and encouraged to take part in games and activities such as speech and drama.

"I have visited many of our student care centres, and it is a joy to see happy, engaged children," said Mr Heng.

With the additional 40 centres, there will be room for 2,500 more pupils at these centres, most of which are run by voluntary welfare organisations.

The average non-subsidised fee is $250 a month, but low- income parents pay as little as $5 a month at centres in Ahmad Ibrahim Primary School in Yishun and Keming Primary in Bukit Batok, among others.

The new centres are among several initiatives announced by Mr Heng to help students with different needs, from financial to learning.

He said the expansion of the student care centres will provide a conducive environment for learning, especially for those from less well-off homes.

Ahmad Ibrahim Primary's principal, Mrs Melinder Goh, said with the student care centre sited in the school, it is able to run programmes that reinforce the school's curriculum and values.

Keming Primary's principal, Ms Chew Tock Lee, said her teachers are better able to understand the needs of the pupils from their conversations with the centre's supervisors who work closely with the children.

"There is close communication between the child, the parent, school teachers, and supervisors at the student care centre," said Ms Chew.

Administrative assistant Latipah Hashim, a 38-year-old mother of four, said student care centres are a safer and more reliable alternative to leaving her children at home without adult supervision.

Her two sons, Mohammad Esryan, 10, and Mohammad Nick Irfan, nine, attend the centre in Eunos Primary School.

"I don't let my sons own mobile phones. If they were left at home, I won't know if they are playing or doing their schoolwork," she said.

"But here, they are in school and well taken care of, so it puts my mind at ease when I am working."

The convenience of attending a student care centre in the school was also a big draw for her.

"They don't have to go to some other place on their own after school. Also, the teachers and student care centre staff here know one another," she added.

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