Singapore

New $4 million fund to help adults with disabilities upskill

Money will help them with course fees, buying support devices

Adults with disabilities looking to upskill or go for training will soon be able to tap a new $4 million fund by Temasek Trust and the five Community Development Councils (CDCs).

Launched yesterday, the fund will provide up to $1,000 each to 4,000 adults with disabilities to defray course-related fees or purchase learning-support devices. The Temasek Trust- CDC Lifelong Learning Enabling Fund will be administered by SG Enable.

It aims to support people with disabilities in lifelong learning, as a common concern among them is that learning opportunities are few after they graduate from special education schools around the age of 18.

At the virtual launch yesterday, Central Singapore District Mayor Denise Phua noted that adults with disabilities, depending on their level of support needs, require continued training in vocational and independent living skills.

These include skills related to employability, self-management, community living, residential living, mobility, work readiness and communication.

She said: "From our understanding of the challenges faced by persons with disabilities, we know there are still gaps, especially for the adults in the post-school years...

"Many persons with disabilities stop learning after they leave their formal schooling years, usually at the age of 18."

CONTINUING EDUCATION

People with disabilities can tap the fund to enrol in continuing education and training programmes, such as those offered by institutes of higher learning, or courses offered by social services agencies and training providers endorsed by SG Enable.

The fund can help to cover course fees, registration fees, course materials and assessment fees. It can be used to buy assistive technology equipment and IT equipment, as well as to acquire accessibility services of sign interpreters, for example.

Those eligible for the fund are people with disabilities aged 18 and above who are not currently enrolled in mainstream or special education schools. They must also be Singapore citizens or permanent residents.

They can apply for the fund more than once, up to a cap of $1,000. Applications for the fund will open on Dec 3, in conjunction with the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. The application period ends on Dec 31 next year. More information on the application process will be provided later.

Ms Phua said she hopes the fund will not only nudge adults with disabilities to adopt lifelong learning, but also encourage more quality training providers to develop more accessible learning opportunities.

Ms Jaspreet Sekhon, 41, who has Down syndrome, plans to apply for the fund to upskill and achieve her goal of becoming a motivational speaker.

A dancer with the Diverse Abilities Dance Collective, she also teaches ethnic dance to young children with autism.

She is involved in advocacy work on the need for education to overcome barriers and limitations in the community. "I plan to use this fund to improve my dancing skills and public speaking skills. I want to speak up for myself and others who cannot communicate as well, and help them achieve their dreams.

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