Sep 26, 2013

    New MOE portal to help students learn

    BY 2016, all primary-school pupils and secondary-school students can log-in to an online portal with learning materials that aim to help them understand difficult concepts taught in school.

    The materials will be prepared by teachers, together with a team of specialists from the Ministry of Education (MOE).

    Parents whom My Paper spoke to lauded the learning portal, which they said would benefit students - especially weaker ones and those who cannot afford private tuition.

    Education Minister Heng Swee Keat, who revealed plans for the free portal yesterday at MOE's workplan seminar, described the initiative as a way to "level up" students across schools.

    "For students, whatever school they are in, they can have even better access to high-quality and relevant learning resources," he said.

    Kindergarten centre manager Anna Tan, 46, said learning online might even be better than tuition, as the material will be up-to-date, since it comes directly from the Education Ministry.

    "For tuition teachers, we usually hire them through word of mouth. At times, they might not be up-to-date (on the school syllabus) as many are former teachers. So, they might not know what is current," said the mother of two teenage boys.

    She said the portal might also help to narrow the gap between brand-name schools and neighbourhood schools.

    "With my elder son, who wasn't in a top school, the onus was on me to get additional notes to supplement his learning. I felt like I had to do more work," said Ms Tan.

    But when it came to her younger son, who attends an independent school, she did not have such difficulties because the school would provide supplementary learning materials.

    Project coordinator Jasper Kwan, 56, whose two sons were from neighbourhood schools, said the online portal is a good way to make learning "fairer" across different schools.

    He said that students from schools that do not have the resources to provide the same high-quality learning materials as brand-name schools can turn to the MOE portal.

    A secondary-school teacher, who wanted to be known only as Ms Ng, said the portal will be helpful in engaging students, but noted that the students' different learning abilities must be considered.

    "The resources have to be varied, with different difficulties to cater to students with different learning paces," she said.