By many metrics, Singapore has one of the world’s most high performing primary education systems. Primary school completion is close to 100%, and outcomes in international benchmarking exercises such as the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) are routinely high. At the same time, a prevailing emphasis on meritocracy continues to raise concerns about educational disparities for more vulnerable groups.
Data from the TIMSS shows that socio-economic status (SES)-based disparities are present in educational outcomes at the primary school level, both in terms of achievement and learning attitudes/dispositions. As such disparities begin to manifest in the late pre-primary years, opportunities to address them during primary school can be identified. The Ministry of Education has led initiatives such as the set-up of the UPLIFT Programme Office, and has also further undertaken longer-term systemic changes such as altering the PSLE scoring system and moving to Full Subject-Based Banding. However, not all children and families may benefit equally from current efforts, leading to persistent or even widening gaps over time.
Octava Foundation recently commissioned a Global Evidence Review to understand ‘what works’ in enabling academic attainment for children from low SES families in similar country settings such as Singapore. We also conducted a landscape mapping to understand the current ecosystem of existing services, programs and policy provision and to identify opportunities where Octava Foundation could play an active part in supporting the existing ecosystem.
Informed by our research and landscaping mapping , Octava Foundation has set up a Young Learners Fund in 2022 with an objective to support solutions, organisations and innovators working towards closing the disadvantage gap in education for primary school-aged children from socioeconomically disadvantaged families in Singapore.
Through this fund, we aim to partner with organizations and innovators developing or scaling solutions that:
Social purpose organisations, social innovators, and agencies with programs or solutions aligned with the fund’s objectives could apply for:
Octava Foundation takes a venture philanthropy approach to develop long-term partnerships and aims to offer partners grants that also support capacity building and technical assistance to further the partners’ impact. Based on the assessment of the potential partner and when appropriate, Octava Foundation can consider offering flexible grant to access technical expertise such as program design expertise, monitoring and evaluation capabilities or other capabilities that directly contribute to strengthening the intervention.
If you are developing a new solution or improvising an existing solution aimed at minimising the disadvantage gap in education for children from economically disadvantaged families, we would love to hear from you. Please reach out to have a chat with our team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Around the world, the disadvantage gap related to socioeconomic status (SES) leads to disparities in educational outcomes in terms of achievement and learning attitudes, and Singapore is no exception. While such differences can be observed even in kindergarten, they may not always be redressed effectively.
Interventions that improve future outcomes for students (excluding interventions carried out within the education system or those aimed at addressing the root causes of socioeconomic disadvantage) include those intended to:
To be successful, measures implemented elsewhere need to be adapted as appropriate for the local context. As such, what are the considerations for design and implementation in the Singapore context? How might we advance an evidence-based dialogue on disparities in Singapore?
This white paper by Research for Impact for Octava Foundation discusses potential interventions for Singapore to address this SES-related gap at the primary school stage, applying insights from both published global evidence and local stakeholders.
It is especially relevant for those involved in the public education system, service organizations working to support schools and/or children in community settings, as well as funders targeting children and youth in Singapore.
Download this white paper to learn more about:
* This report was prepared for Octava Foundation by Research For Impact to inform future work on SES-related education disparities. The findings in the report are based on publicly available information, insights from interviews and other sources believed to be true. The findings are for general guidance only, represent a point in time and have not been verified independently. While every effort is made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information contained, Research For Impact and Octava Foundation take no responsibility and assume no liability for any error, omission or inaccuracy of the information. Users bear their own responsibility for checking facts and no user can use the report as a basis for any claim, demand or cause of action; Research For Impact and Octava Foundation are not responsible for any loss incurred based upon actions taken as a result of the report.
Enhanced Numeracy Enrichment Programme
Established in October 2018, UPLIFT (Uplifting Pupils in Life and Inspiring Families Taskforce) is an inter-agency team led by the Ministry of Education (MOE) that aims to support and strengthen the partnership between schools and community partners to enhance upstream wraparound support for disadvantaged students. In particular, UPLIFT is committed to tackling long-term absenteeism – a key barrier that impedes students’ educational progress and prevents them from achieving their full potential.
The Enhanced Numeracy Enrichment Programme leverages the after-school space to complement schools’ efforts in addressing the issue of math-related learning anxiety through a games-based approach to boost learners’ confidence and motivation. The programme is coordinated by MOE who partners Self-Help Groups (SHGs) and community volunteers on the programme. The programme is currently in its pilot phase.
Find out more about UPLIFT here.