Beyond financial assistance, more children from low-income families benefitting from more support programmes
NTUC-U Care Fund continues to support programmes that give children from less privileged backgrounds a good start in life.
Committed to giving all children a good start in life, NTUC’s Bright Horizons Fund (BHF) has stepped up its efforts to support children from low-income families in My First Skool (MFS) through a wider range of programmes. The key donors to the BHF are NTUC-U Care Fund and NTUC First Campus (NFC).
The BHF was established in 2008. Over the past eight years, the amount of BHF disbursement has doubled from $530k in 2008 to $1m in 2016. This is channelled into supporting child support programmes that have grown from three in 2008 to nine currently. With more programmes, BHF has extended its outreach, benefiting more children from low-income families in MFS centres – from 600 in 2008 to 1,500 this year.
Number of MFS low-income families whose children benefited from BHF
- 2008 : 600
- 2016 : 1,500
- Total from 2008 – 2016 : 8,200
- 2008 : $530k
- 2016 : $1m
- Total from 2008 – 2016 : $3.9m
Number of programmes
- 2008: 3
- 2016: 9
- Total from 2008 – 2016: N.A
NTUC-U Care Fund has been making yearly donations to BHF since 2009 as it believes in the importance of early childhood education. The cheque donation of $520,000 was presented to BHF at a “You are Special” celebration held at My First Skool at Blk 54 Chin Swee today.
NTUC Assistant Secretary-General Zainal Sapari, who is also Director of NTUC Care and Share and NTUC U Care Centre, said, “NTUC-U Care Fund strongly believes in the importance of giving children the necessary foundations to have a good start in life, regardless of their background or family circumstances. We are indeed very thankful that many children from low-income families have been able to benefit from the variety of BHF support programmes aimed at fulfilling this purpose.”
Meeting diverse needs beyond financial assistance
Recognising the need to meet diverse needs of low-income families with pre-schooling children, BHF has gone beyond financial assistance. It has invested more of its funds to support the learning and well-being of these children through various programmes in NFC’s Child Support Model.
BHF provides funding for the following learning programmes:
- Read-to-REACH (RTR) is an early literacy intervention programme for K1 children who are weak in English literacy. RTR has produced good learning outcomes. More than half of K1 children who attended RTR do not need early literacy and language intervention in K2.
Said Mr Lim Poh Tiong, whose five year-old son in MFS has benefited from the Read-to-REACH (RTR) programme, “Through this programme, my child has shown improvement in his English. He now knows how to read words and is more confident speaking English in school and at home. I am very thankful for the help given to my child in this programme.”
- Classroom Support Programme deploys Classroom Co-Facilitators to support MFS children who need additional help in classroom activities.
Ms Lyn Lim Hwee Hian, a classroom co-facilitator with NTUC First Campus shared, “Classroom Co-Facilitators support teachers by facilitating small group learning / teaching with specific children with developmental and behavioural needs during class activities. We engage children meaningfully to achieve learning outcomes and reinforcing positive behaviour for children with behavioural issues.”
BHF is also doing more to uncover hidden talents among the children by funding a new programme known as ‘You’ve Got Talent’.
- The programme exposes children to niche areas of sports and creative arts, and provides opportunities to nurture their talent in these areas. Piloted in four of MFS centres in 2015, this programme has since been rolled out to nine MFS centres, benefiting some 150 children so far.
- This programme is currently offered in MFS centres with higher number of children from low-income families, and is specially set aside for BHF beneficiaries. Under the programme, children attend wushu, visual arts or dance classes in their MFS centres once a week. The programme is conducted in partnership with the Sports Association Singapore, Little Arts Academy and Singapore Repertory Theatre.
Ms Darnyza Daud, Principal of MFS at Blk 54 Chin Swee, who has seen children from her centre benefiting from the programme, shared, “You’ve Got Talent has helped to uncover the potential of children.” She added, “This programme provides opportunity for children from low-income background to build on their development outside of classrooms, be it in the areas of arts or sports. Besides enhancing their fine motor or creativity skills, children also build up their sense of self confidence that leads to higher self-esteem.”
Other than developmental programmes, BHF takes care of the well-being of the children by providing funding for the following programmes:
- “You are Special”, which provides birthday cakes for children to celebrate their birthdays with their classmates in MFS centres.
- FAST (Family And School Together), which organised educational tours and excursions for low-income families and their children, and provide opportunities for family bonding.
- “My School Bag” project, which provide essential schooling items such as school bags, stationery and shoes for our graduating K2 children who are moving on to primary school.
Said Mr Chan Tee Seng, NFC’s Chief Executive Officer, “With the support of BHF’s major donor, the NTUC-U Care Fund, we have been able to reach out to more low-income families and their children, and provide holistic child support programmes that are tailored to meet the diverse needs of these children and families. We believe strongly in providing a good start to all children who come through our doors, and believe in realising the potential of every child.”