Saturday, 22 June 2019

CDAC to revise income eligibility criteria for its programmes and help more needy families from January 2020

By Jolene Ang, The Straits Times, 21 Jun 2019

The Chinese Development Assistance Council (CDAC) will ease the qualification criteria for its help schemes from January next year. More needy families will benefit, with the monthly income threshold lifted from $1,900 to $2,400.

The CDAC announced the move yesterday, and said the per capita income criterion will also rise from $650 to $800.

With these changes, the CDAC projects that about 1,500 new families will benefit from its schemes, and about 1,500 families who are already on its programmes will qualify for even more support.

The CDAC is a self-help group for the Chinese community that provides learning support for students through tuition and other enrichment programmes.

In another change, beneficiaries from more disadvantaged families will receive deeper support on a more sustained basis, the organisation said. It will "make adjustments to extend assistance on a multi-year basis" to families who need greater support.

For example, a child from a family facing long-term financial and job challenges could be given a three-year continuous bursary. Currently, bursaries have to be applied for and are disbursed yearly.

This will be on a case-by-case basis, and case workers will be given room to exercise judgment, the CDAC added.

Families with a monthly household income of $4,000 and below, or a per capita income of $1,200 and below, will also be eligible for certain programme subsidies after the criteria revision. The thresholds now are $3,300 and $900, respectively.

Education Minister Ong Ye Kung, who is also the CDAC board chairman, said: "While we will continue to expand outreach and offer quality programmes to more low-income families, we are identifying the more disadvantaged families to provide them with holistic and deepened support.

"The objective is to ensure social mobility within the Chinese community, and recognising that education for children and stable jobs for parents are the best ways to bring this about."

Similar self-help groups serving other communities include the Eurasian Association, Singapore Indian Development Association and Yayasan Mendaki.

Speaking further to reporters on the sidelines of CDAC's annual general meeting yesterday, Mr Ong said that last year, the CDAC managed more than 800 cases that gave customised help to vulnerable families.

He added: "CDAC operates on a small scale. But that means our case workers can have a deeper relationship with our beneficiaries, and we can be flexible in the kind of help we provide."

Easier now to secure multi-year assistance
By Jolene Ang, The Straits Times, 21 Jun 2019

Every August, housewife Chua Siew Tin has to compile a raft of documents detailing her family's Central Provident Fund contribution history, among other things, so that she can apply for bursaries from the Chinese Development Assistance Council (CDAC) for her children to pay their fees and other school expenses.

Her oldest daughter, aged 17, suffers from chronic asthma, and she has three other children aged 16, 14 and seven. Her husband is an assistant at a hawker stall.

Another financial burden is the mortgage on their flat in Commonwealth that sets them back about $600 each month.

Mrs Chua, 44, welcomed the CDAC's move to extend multi-year help to families who need more sustained assistance. The adjustments mean that she no longer has to go through the hassle of applying for bursaries every year, as her children may get them now for several years.

Mrs Chua said: "It may not sound like it makes a big difference, but it saves us a lot of trouble - we are also receiving help under the Ministry of Education's financial assistance scheme - as we don't have to fill out so many forms.

"It is actually very worrying to have to keep thinking about things like whether our application will go through every year. At least now, there is one load off my mind."

Mendaki gave out record $42 million in tertiary tuition subsidies in 2018
By Lester Wong, The Sunday Times, 23 Jun 2019

Tertiary tuition fee subsidies (TTFS) disbursed by self-help group Yayasan Mendaki to the Malay-Muslim community here reached an all-time high last year at $42 million, enabling more than 10,000 beneficiaries to carry on with studies at government institutions.

Giving a financial overview of the self-help group's 2018 initiatives yesterday, Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs and Mendaki chairman Masagos Zulkifli said it also gave out $5 million in study loans and spent $33 million on a host of community outreach programmes under its three pillars: School Ready, Perform in School and Future Ready.

In total, Mendaki supported almost 67,000 beneficiaries. The increased TTFS figure came on the back of the income eligibility criteria for the scheme being revised in March last year.

Students from households with per capita income of $1,400 and below became eligible for a 100 per cent subsidy, while those with per capita income of between $1,400 and $1,700, and between $1,700 and $2,000, received 75 per cent and 50 per cent subsidy, respectively. These were up from $1,000 and below, $1,001 to $1,200, and $1,201 to $1,500, respectively.

"Going forward, as I said in my Hari Raya speech (on June 15), we want to have nobody behind the red line, which means ensuring all Malay-Muslim students at the very least graduate from an Institute of Technical Education," said Mr Masagos at Mendaki's 30th annual general meeting.

"At the same time we also want to push as many people as possible beyond the blue line, which means getting a university education."

He also said Mendaki has been developing new youth mentorship initiatives, led by Ms Rahayu Mahzam, an MP for Jurong GRC. These will be rolled out before the end of the year.

Mr Masagos, who is also Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, added that support for young people must operate in tandem with support beginning in early childhood. "What you invest in early childhood development will pay off many more times than if you intervene later," he said.

KelasMateMatika@CC (KMM), a programme introduced last September in three locations, aims to equip children aged four to six with basic numeracy skills and empower their parents to be effective guides in their development.

Owing to strong take-up, Minister of State for National Development and Manpower Zaqy Mohamad announced in Parliament in March that KMM will be expanded to five more locations, potentially benefiting over 1,500 Malay-Muslim parents and children.

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