Mandatory Settling-in-Programme For Maids

05 Dec 2011


Immigration News

The Manpower Ministry is introducing a mandatory Settling-In-Programme (SIP) to replace the current English entry test, to help domestic workers better settle in Singapore.

The programme, which will take effect from the middle of next year, aims to better aid first-time foreign domestic workers (FDWs) cope with living and working here.

Four in five FDWs face initial problems settling in here, according to the Manpower Ministry's survey and consultations.

The ministry said it had received feedback to make entry requirements for FDWs more relevant to them, employers and employment agencies.

This included calls to remove the mandatory entry test for first-time FDWs, which was introduced in 2005 to increase the quality of FDWs.

Minister of State for Manpower & National Development Tan Chuan-Jin said: "Our objective has always been to see how best to help our foreign domestic workers settle in so that they can be effective, as well as to help employers.

"Over time, we have always tried to do that. We have also been consulting with the public, both employment agencies, employers and also the NGOs about what the different things that we can do. I think it's something that is useful and based on the feedback so far, it's something that will be relevant for employers and for foreign domestic workers themselves to help them settle down."

According to feedback, the test is "not a meaningful measure of quality and discourages good domestic worker from wanting to work here."

One-Accord Consultancy Services LLP senior consultant Rosalind Sun: "They are so frightened (by the test) and a lot of them are so nervous. It is really the skills that they need, not so much their literacy and their numeracy. They are not here to teach our children or be our secretary."

Several employment agencies said more maids will head to Singapore with the removal of the test.

Association of Employment Agencies Singapore (AEAS) president K Jayaprema said: "It's fantastic news for everybody. This is something we have been waiting for a long time. For employers, they can rest assure that once the domestic workers arrive, she will be staying on to work for them. One of the biggest risks is that domestic workers have to be repatriated if they fail the entry test. This is very good news for them."

Thirty-eight-year-old Filipino Alona Ramento, who arrived in Singapore sixteen years ago, was one of them.

She said the SIP programme would have helped her adapt better.

Ms Ramento said: "There were a lot of challenges. Firstly our culture is very different from here and the people are also different, so it was like completely in an alien world."

The SIP was launched by Foreign Domestic Worker Association (FAST), a non-profit organization, as a pilot programme to help foreign domestic workers adapt to living and working here.

FAST president Seah Seng Choon said: "They feel that the programme has helped them to understand the culture in the Singapore family. They also feel good about the stress management programme that we offer them as many of them do not know how to manage the stressful part of their work."

The SIP will include modules on home safety, stress management and employment conditions and responsibilities.

The programme will be conducted in English or the foreign domestic workers' native language.


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