Mr Gerald Giam Yean Song asked the Minister for Education in the last five years (a) how many individuals have been convicted of offences under the Compulsory Education Act; and (b) what is the duration of absence that schools will wait for before invoking the Compulsory Education Act.
Mr Chan Chun Sing: As non- and irregular attendance issues are often complex and multi-faceted, the Ministry of Education (MOE) and schools take a holistic approach in dealing with each child’s unique circumstance without predetermined timelines.
Schools monitor students’ attendance closely and engage students and their parents proactively when they observe non- or irregular attendance. This includes providing counselling to the students, having conferences with parents and conducting home visits. If necessary, schools may also refer the child or family to community-based support, such as the Enhanced STEP-UP Programme or Family Service Centres.
If the child’s attendance does not improve, schools will refer these cases to the Compulsory Education (CE) Unit in MOE for further investigation and engagement with parents. Where other forms of social assistance are required, other agencies such as the Ministry of Social and Family Development and community groups will be brought in to help resolve underlying familial issues that affect the children’s attendance.
In cases where parents still refuse to ensure their children’s attendance, their cases are escalated to the Compulsory Education Board, which may summon the parents and children for a formal Hearing. Legal enforcement is used as a last resort. Due to the effectiveness of these actions by schools, community and the Compulsory Education Board, no parent had been convicted under the CE Act since its inception in 2003.
Ministry of Education
20 March 2023