Families hit by pandemic grateful for Recess@Home scheme
Initiative to support students affected by pandemic extended, helps them buy food and other essentials
When Mustafa Centre was identified as a Covid-19 cluster, a Secondary 2 student who wants to be known only as Azeema was worried for her father, who works as a supervisor at the jewellery department there.
The Beatty Secondary student told The New Paper yesterday: "My family and I were worried for his health."
Their fears grew when her father was placed on a two-month stay-home notice last month, with his salary cut by almost 50 per cent.
Said Azeema: "When we found out, Ramadan was approaching and we were worried about how we were going to put food on the table."
The pay cut resulted in her mother having to take up more shifts and longer hours at her part-time job at Sheng Siong to support Azeema and her two sisters.
To help families like Azeema's, the Ministry of Education (MOE) - together with the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS) and other community donors - started the Recess@Home programme.
This community-initiated programme aims to support students whose families are impacted by the pandemic, such as unexpected loss of income.
The programme, initially aimed at providing meal subsidies for needy students during home-based learning (HBL), which ended on May 4, has been extended to the end of the mid-year school holidays.
Each primary school pupil received $80 while secondary students got $120 each during the HBL period.
CFS has committed up to $300,000 in funding to extend Recess@Home until June 1.
Students who are identified by schools to need additional support will be given more help under the extended scheme. They will receive $60 if they are in primary school, and $120 if they are in secondary school.
Azeema said: "My family would go grocery shopping every three weeks or so, but with my father losing half his salary, we had to tighten our belts."
The $120 she received really helped her family, said Azeema.
"It helped us get essential grocery products that were running low. We also used the money to buy food for break fast."
Primary 2 pupil Chong Yee Lin from Punggol Primary School is another beneficiary of the scheme.
Yee Lin's father, who works in the construction industry as a site supervisor, has had no income since he had to stop work last month.
Her mother, Madam Tan Hwee Li, 47, told TNP: "My family had to cut expenses by 50 per cent."
Now the sole breadwinner of the family, Madam Tan said she sometimes feels pressured.
The administrative assistant said: "We were thankful to receive the assistance. The money bought us groceries for at least two weeks."