SINGAPORE: Budget 2014 addresses key concerns like creating opportunities and providing assurance for Singaporeans. Education Minister Heng Swee Keat noted that these concerns were raised during "Our Singapore Conversation".
Describing this year's Budget as "forward-looking", the minister said it ensures that opportunities are created for Singaporeans, and also addresses long-term challenges such as ageing.
Turning to education, Mr Heng said middle-income families can look forward to a "fairly substantial increase" in bursaries for their children.
He said: "I think we are in the position of strength to be able to set aside our Budget surplus to fund these very important long-term programmes.
"And as long as we continue to be prudent in our spending, I think we can continue to build Singapore, to build a better society."
On the Pioneer Generation Package, he said not having means testing for this package is the "right thing to do".
He said: "We should not forget that apart from Pioneer Generation Package, there are also a number of means-tested schemes to help pioneers and Singaporeans in general from the lower-income group. So in fact, this Pioneer Generation Package builds on existing packages which have elements of means testing."
Mr Heng was on Sunday speaking to reporters at “Back to Play! - A Tampines Learning Initiative” - a family festival that aims to encourage parents to give their children more unstructured playtime.
Unstructured play allows children to engage in and create activities without adult guidance.
Mr Heng said he agrees with the importance of "play", especially in early childhood development.
He said: "Play time is not a waste of time - in fact play brings very important values in developing the self-confidence and social skills of our children, in stimulating their curiosity to explore the world around them and in nurturing their creativity. That is our approach in our MOE kindergartens and in our lower primary education."
The Education Ministry had earlier said its new kindergartens will feature a learning principle of "purposeful play". - CNA/xq
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