What is Aidha?

Aidha is a micro-business school in Singapore offering classes tailored for foreign domestic workers.

Set up in 2006, it provides two courses in financial and computer literacy, business management and entrepreneurship. Each course, which costs $350, is conducted on alternate Sundays over nine months at the United World College of South-east Asia on Dover Road.

They need to study three modules in each of the two courses to receive a certificate in entrepreneurship.

Aidha initially saw over 100 students, but that number increased to 708 for both modules last year.

Some 23 per cent have ventured into their own businesses back home.

Other schools here that offer similar courses include the Bayanihan Centre, the Foreign Domestic Worker Association for Skills Training, and the Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics.

Dr Noorashikin Abdul Rahman, a board member of Transient Workers Count Too, a maid advocacy group, said some employers only send their maids for cooking classes because of the perceived direct benefits.

"Spending your time to upgrade your skills may not have direct relevance to domestic work, but it contributes to the holistic development of a person," she said.

And they can pick up soft skills which help them become more confident and communicate better.

"I have seen how domestic workers who attend these classes do community work like organising trips to old folks' homes to give back to society," Dr Noorashikin added.

She was quick to allay employers' concerns that their maids, newly empowered with skills and knowledge, will leave for greener pastures back home.

"Employers should learn to be more open-minded about it and slowly shape a new kind of culture (of domestic workers going to school)," she said.

Domestic workers who are interested in enrolling can call 9789-4041 or e-mail