More stringent rules for Singapore's private schools soon
By Satish Cheney, Channel NewsAsia Posted: 10 March 2009 2128 hrs
SINGAPORE: There will be more stringent rules and regulations, including advertising, for the private education sector in Singapore soon. Authorities are hoping the new Private Education Bill will be passed in Parliament by July - under which, more than 1,000 private schools must adhere to the new rules. And once the new bill comes into effect within the next two years, a new EduTrust scheme will take over the current CASETrust scheme dealing with private schools. EduTrust will focus on the school's financial health and academic processes, as well as the student's overall happiness and welfare.
While the scheme is voluntary, the Education Ministry believes the some 350 schools currently having the CASETrust status will strive for the EduTrust mark. Chairman of Council for Private Education, Lin Cheng Ton, said: "Those schools that can get the EduTrust certification are the better schools. So in this case, the better schools are able to take foreign students."
Currently, only private institutions (PIs) with the CASETrust status can enrol foreign students. And soon, they must have the EduTrust mark when it comes into effect. CEO of Council for Private Education, Henry Heng, said: "Let's not forget that the new regime is a little different from what it is presently. The new regime has a regulatory enforcement act which requires the managers of the PIs, who are identified by name and in person, that… if they close down, they have to be able to make transitory plans for the students and failing which, it's an offence under the act itself."
The ministry will also step up efforts to check on errant private schools and employ more officers to conduct these checks. In addition, only schools with approved courses will be allowed to advertise them. There will be focus group discussions to get feedback from private education institutions and students. There will also be a public consultation exercise with industry players as well as the public from March 11 till May 6.
The above article is copied from CNA online.
What is happening is that CASETrust did not work the way it wants and the shortfalls in the private education industry are being exposed with more students falling victims to fly by night operators. The new regulations and power of enforcement have been late in coming and should be in force long ago to maintain a high standard of integrity in the education industry. A lot of pain and suffering could have been avoided if actions were taken much earlier.
We can now hope that the Singapore brand has not been tarnished beyond recognition and foreign students and their parents still have faith in our system.