I delivered the following speech during MOE COS Debate today.
Madam, there are now 80 School-based Student Care Centres (SSCs). While this is an increase since 2011, SSCs is available in just over 40% of primary schools here.
The number of student care places outside of SSCs will continue to reduce as operators find it commercially unattractive to run these due to high rental costs. Operators prefer to offer child care services which are better funded by the government or run tuition centres. The demand for student care services has increased just as it did for childcare services. The best place to run such centres is in the schools, where students need not move out of the school and the operators can best coordinate with the teachers to follow up on homework and learning. Schools’ facilities in single-session schools are not fully ultilised after school hours. If facilities are offered at token rents to operators, MOE can negotiate for lower fees and higher quality programmes. It will also reduce the need for tuition, benefiting children from disadvantaged families.
MOE did not provide figures for my PQ on the waitlist in SSCs. So I did a random check on 12 SSCs, both in new and in mature estates. I found that all, ALL have NO vacancies, with one having over 50 children on the waitlist! The demand is very strong. I like to see MOE aim for 100% of all primary schools to have SSCs as soon as possible. Existing operators that run community-based centres will likely be interested to move their operations into schools to avoid high rents and can pass the savings on to parents. I hope MOE and MSF can make this into an urgent priority.