Singapore

CDAC pledges record $36m to support needy

Minister says challenges set to persist even as recovery from outbreak continues

The Chinese Development Assistance Council (CDAC) is setting aside a record $36 million for programmes and schemes that will help needy students and their families next year as more seek help amid the Covid-19 outbreak.

These will include new initiatives such as a coaching programme for students, and cash grants of up to $800 to support their learning needs, the CDAC said in a statement yesterday.

The budgeted amount, which is about 20 per cent higher than this year's estimated spending, will cater to an expected increase in demand for support programmes as well as provide more help to students who are weaker academically, it said.

Transport Minister and CDAC chairman Ong Ye Kung noted that while recovery from the outbreak is under way, challenges are likely to persist next year.

"Many families will still need help, and so we are stretching our budget," he said.

Mr Ong was speaking on the sidelines of the CDAC's annual Ready For School event, which provides low-income families and their school-going children help in preparing for the upcoming school year.

This year, 8,700 beneficiary families, including 17,400 children, will be given family and school-ready packs containing vouchers.

Each family pack contains $260 worth of transport and FairPrice vouchers, while the school-ready pack holds $80 worth of vouchers for school supplies.

The CDAC said packs will be given to 2,200 more families than last year as more households have approached it for help. Each family will also receive an extra $100 in vouchers.

About $3.9 million worth of vouchers will be given out this year, $1 million more than at last year's Ready For School event, Mr Ong said on the second last day of distribution at Nanyang Junior College.

This year's event is spread out across three locations over four days to prevent crowding, with only one representative per family allowed to collect the packs.

While safe distancing measures have necessitated smaller group sizes for tuition classes organised by the CDAC, more online sessions will be offered in the coming year, the council said.

About 100 tuition students will also be selected next year to receive personal guidance through a new coaching programme for those in greater need.

It will entail customised learning plans, cash grants for learning expenses and support groups for parents, among other things.

Warehouse assistant Jeffrey Lim, 39, who was at Nanyang Junior College to collect a family pack and school packs for his three sons yesterday, said the vouchers will come in especially helpful this year.

His wife, who earns an hourly wage as a part-time packer, has had less work this year because of the outbreak, said Mr Lim.

Aside from financial relief, the CDAC provides the two older boys - aged 12 and 10 - help with their schoolwork through weekly mentoring sessions.

"This also helps us to know how they are coping with their assignments," Mr Lim said.

COMMUNITY ISSUES