Singapore Infopedia


Established in 1993, the Edusave scheme aims to provide Singaporean students with a holistic education.1 The scheme maximises learning opportunities for Singaporeans by providing schools and students with financial assistance to develop resources and fund enrichment courses.2 The scheme also rewards students with various awards and scholarships to recognise their academic and non-academic achievements.3

The Edusave scheme was initiated by former Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong, who wanted every student to have equal educational opportunities, regardless of financial background.4 Goh regarded education as an investment and the key to building a bright future.5 In December 1990, Goh officially announced the $5 billion Edusave scheme.6 Drawing inspiration from Medisave, a national medical savings scheme Goh had introduced in 1984, the scheme was similarly named Edusave. Edusave sought to nurture excellence in students in both academic and non-academic fields.7

Education Endowment Scheme Act
In January 1993, the Edusave Endowment Scheme Act was officially launched by the government.8 In September 1992, parliament approved legislation for the establishment of an Edusave Endowment Fund for the government’s annual contributions.9 In 1993, the fund had an initial capital sum of $1 billion, which was subsequently increased to the targeted sum of $5 billion in 1997.10 In the 2013 financial year, the fund stood at $5.5 billion.11 The capital funds were allocated for funds and grants, as well as awards and scholarships given to schools and students annually.12 Edusave primarily comprises the Edusave Pupil Fund, Edusave Grants, and Edusave Awards and Scholarships.

Edusave Pupil Fund
Every Singaporean pupil aged 7 to 16 enrolled in government schools are given an Edusave account through which they receive annual Edusave contributions.13 Primary and secondary school students receive a yearly contribution of $200 and $240 respectively,14 and can utilise these funds for educational and enrichment programmes.15 Any unused Edusave funds are then transferred into the student’s Post-Secondary Education Account (PSEA) when he/she leaves secondary school.16

Edusave grants
All government and government-aided primary and secondary schools, special education schools, junior colleges and centralised institutes, independent and specialised schools (such as schools geared towards practical learning and those focused on specific areas like sports or the arts) and the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) receive annual Edusave grants to conduct enrichment programmes and acquire supplementary resources for students.17 Each school would form a management committee to decide how to allocate the funds.18 Furthermore, an additional grant is given to all government-funded special education schools annually to disburse school-based achievement awards to recognise outstanding students. The qualification criteria are determined by the respective special education schools.19

Edusave awards and scholarships
Edusave awards and scholarships recognise Singaporean students who demonstrate excellence in both academic and non-academic domains. The Edusave Scholarship (ES), Edusave Merit Bursary (EMB) and Good Progress Award (GPA) recognise students with outstanding academic performances. The Edusave Award for Achievement, Good Leadership and Service (EAGLES), Edusave Character Award (ECHA) and Edusave Skills Award (ESA) recognise students who demonstrate excellence in non-academic fields.20

The Edusave scholarships for primary, secondary and specialised schools are awarded to upper primary, secondary and specialised schools students who constitute the top 10 percent of their cohorts in academic performance and conduct.21 The Edusave scholarships for independent schools comprise the Edusave Entrance Scholarships for Independent Schools (EESIS), Edusave Independent Schools Yearly Award (E(IS)YA) and Edusave Scholarships for Integrated Programme Schools (ESIP).22 EESIS are awarded to the top one third of the secondary one cohort in independent schools based on their Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) results.23 E(IS)YA are awarded to the top five percent of each cohort based on their annual school examination results.24 ESIP are awarded to secondary three and first year junior college students in independent schools offering the Integrated Programme based on their Integrated Programme Scholarship Test (IPST) or GCE O Level Examination results.25

EMB was introduced in 1995 to nurture academic excellence in students from lower-middle and low income families.26 EMB are presented to students who make up the top 25 percent of their cohort and have a total monthly household income below $3,000.27 The GPA was introduced in 1997 to recognise students who make remarkable progress in their academic work.28 Students who emerge in the top 10 percent of their cohort in terms of academic progress with a good conduct record are also entitled to this award.29

EAGLES is presented to students from primary four onwards studying in government-funded schools, independent schools, pre-university institutions, specialised schools and ITE.30 Up to 10 percent of eligible recipients are selected based on their co-curricular achievements, conduct, leadership qualities and services rendered to the community and schools.31

ECHA was introduced in 2012 to cultivate character development among students.32 The ECHA is presented to up to two percent of students who have exhibited exemplary character and values.33 There was some concern among citizens that honoring character with a cash reward could promote materialism.34 However, former Education Minister Heng Swee Keat said that the award was an appreciation of students who had persevered through challenges to perform well.35

ESA was introduced in 2017 in all polytechnics, specialised schools and ITE in light of the National SkillsFuture movement.36 The National SkillsFuture movement was launched in 2014 as part of the government’s efforts to foster lifelong learning by providing Singaporeans with opportunities to learn and upgrade their knowledge and skills continuously.37 ESA is presented to up to 10 percent of graduating students from each course who have demonstrated outstanding professional and soft skills during their course of studies.38 Students are assessed based on their performances during internships and final year projects, as well as achievements at competitions.39

Recent developments
Since 2014, Edusave contributions have been extended to all Singaporean students aged 7 to 16, including students not enrolled in MOE-funded schools.40 This includes students who are studying overseas, home-schooled or enrolled in madrasahs and private schools.41 Moreover, Singapore’s Budget 2015 reported that a supplementary sum of $150 would be given to primary and secondary school students.42 As a result, current Edusave contributions comprise $350 for primary school students and $390 for secondary school students.43

In 2017, Edusave was also extended to polytechnic students with the introduction of the Edusave Skills Award (ESA).44 Polytechnic students are now eligible for the Edusave Merit Bursary (EMB) and Good Progress Award (GPA) as well. Prior to the change, Edusave awards were applicable to the primary and secondary schools, junior colleges and ITE.45 Acting Education Minister for Higher Education and Skills Ong Ye Kung remarked that the extension was timely as polytechnic students should be recognised for their contributions to the community.46

In September 2018, MOE announced that from 2019 onwards, weighted assessments and examinations at the lower primary levels would be removed to reduce emphasis on academic results. As a result, Edusave awards criteria for students at the lower primary levels would now recognise their learning attitudes, such as diligence, curiosity and enthusiasm instead of their performance in academic areas.47

Liviniyah P.

1. “Edusave Account,” Ministry of Education, accessed 5 June 2018.
2. Ministry of Education, ‘Edusave Account.”
3. Ministry of Education, ‘Edusave Account.”
4. “PM Goh: Equal Start for All,” Straits Times, 18 December 1990, 1. (From NewspaperSG)
5. “Equal Start for All.”
6. “Equal Start for All.”
7. Pundarik Mukhopadhaya, Income Inequality in Singapore (Oxon: Routledge, 2014), 94. (Call no. RSING 339.22095957 MUK)
8. “Education Endowment Fund Act Gazetted,” Straits Times, 1 November 1992, 20. (From NewspaperSG)
9. “Education Endowment Fund Act Gazetted.”
10. Ministry of Education, ‘Edusave Account.”
11. Ministry of Education, ‘Edusave Account.”
12. “Education Endowment Fund Act Gazetted.”
13. Koh Ai Tee, et al. ed., Singapore Economy in the 21st Century: Issues and Strategies (Singapore: McGraw Hill, 2002), 104. (Call no. RSING 330.95957 SIN)
14. “Edusave Account: Overview,” Ministry of Education, accessed 5 June 2018.
15. “Education Endowment Fund Act Gazetted.”
16. Vernon Loke and Michael Sherraden, “Building Children’s Assets in Singapore: The Post-Secondary Education Account Policy,” CSD Publication, no. 7–36 (June 2007
17. Ministry of Education, ‘Edusave Account”; Ministry of Education, Secondary School Education: Shaping the Next Phase of Your Child’s Learning Journey (Singapore: Ministry of Education, 2014)
18. Leong Chan Teik, “How Schools Will Spend $100,000 Govt Grants,” Straits Times, 2 January 1993, 3. (From NewspaperSG)
19. “Achievement Awards for Special Education Students,” Ministry of Education, accessed 5 December 2018.
20. “Pilot on Paynow Electronic Payment for Edusave,” Ministry of Education, accessed 5 December 2018.
21. “Edusave Awards and Scholarships,” Ministry of Education, accessed 5 December 2018.
22. “Edusave Scholarships for Independent Schools,” Ministry of Education, accessed 5 June 2018.
23. Ministry of Education, “Edusave Scholarships for Independent Schools.”
24. Koh et al., Singapore Economy in the 21st Century, 105.
25. Ministry of Education, “Edusave Scholarships for Independent Schools.”
26. Koh et al., Singapore Economy in the 21st Century, 105.
27. “Edusave Merit Bursary,” New Paper, 16 December 1996, 12. (From NewspaperSG)
28. Koh et al., Singapore Economy in the 21st Century, 105.
29. Ministry of Education, “Edusave Awards and Scholarships.”
30. Ministry of Education, “Edusave Scholarships for Independent Schools.”
31. “Edusave Award for Achievement, Good Leadership and Service (EAGLES),” Ministry of Education, accessed 5 June 2018.
32. Kezia Toh, “8,000 Students to Get Character Awards,” Straits Times, 15 December 2012, 17. (From NewspaperSG)
33. Ministry of Education, “Edusave Awards and Scholarships.”
34. Toh, “8,000 Students to Get Character Awards.”
35. Toh, “8,000 Students to Get Character Awards.”
36. “Edusave Awards to Extend to Poly Students from 2017,” Today, 9 January 2016. (From Factiva via NLB’s eResources website)
37. I. Saad, I. (2015, December 18). Singapore to Build on SkillsFuture Initiative in 2016,” Channel NewsAsia, 8 December 2015 (From Factiva via NLB’s eResources website); Sandra Davie, “UniSIM's Mission Fits with SkillsFuture Movement,” Straits Times, 13 October 2016, 4. (From NewspaperSG)
38. Leong Weng Kam, “First Batch of Students Receives New Edusave Award,” Channel NewsAsia, 15 January 2017. (From Factiva via NLB’s eResources website)
39. “Edusave Awards to Extend to Poly Students.”
40. Robin Chan, “Edusave Extended to Madrasah and Home-Schooled Students,” Straits Times, 19 August 2013, 5. (From NewspaperSG)
41. “More to Get Edusave Grants,” Straits Times, 9 October 2014, 4. (From NewspaperSG)
42. Ministry of Education, ‘Edusave Account.”
43. Ministry of Education, ‘Edusave Account.”
44. Leong, “First Batch of Students Receives New Edusave Award.”
45. Samantha Boh, “Edusave Awards for Poly Students Too,” Straits Times, 10 January 2016, 12 (From NewspaperSG); “Edusave Awards to Extend to Poly Students.”
46. Leong, “First Batch of Students Receives New Edusave Award.”
47. Jolene Ang, “Edusave Award Criteria for Lower Primary Pupils to Shift from Grades to Learning Attitudes,” Straits Times, 28 September 2018; Lydia Chia, “Fewer Exams, Assessments in Schools to Reduce Emphasis on Academic Results: MOE.” ChannelNews Asia, 28 September 2018. (From Factiva via NLB’s eResources website)

The information in this article is valid as at December 2018 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history on the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading on the topic.


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