All learners from pre-schoolers to working adults can level up
Access to education and training addresses Singaporeans’ concern of being left behind
Singapore, 29 September 2016 – NTUC Social Enterprises announced today the Group’s suite of programmes that enable Singaporeans at different stages of their lives to level up and achieve good progress through life.
In the pre-school segment, My First Skool (MFS) has in place the Child Support Model to meet the social, developmental and financial needs of each child in a holistic and integrated manner.
Meeting social needs
MFS ensures that children from low-income families have priority placement at its centres. It established a new role of the Child Enabling Executive (CEE) under its KidStart initiative to monitor the well-being of these children and encourage them to attend childcare regularly. The CEEs are deployed at MFS centres with higher number of children from low-income families and work with community partners such as Family Service Centres and Social Service Offices to provide social support to vulnerable families. The support could range from counseling, career counseling, to provision of household items, etc. The idea is to help families manage their difficult circumstances and alleviate some of their worries, so that they will be more inclined to allow their children to attend childcare. In addition, to aid parents in dealing with the ever increasing parenting challenges of modern-day, MFS has also introduced the “Parenting Years” series of workshops to equip parents with practical parenting skills. This is to help them foster a closer bond with their children as well as improve children’s behaviour which, in the long term, will help their children display positive social and emotional development and positive attitudes towards school.
Meeting developmental needs
Children at MFS who show signs of mild developmental delays benefit from early intervention programmes that enable them to acquire age-appropriate language, literacy and social skills. Programmes such as the Development Support Programme, conducted by in-house Learning Support Educators and/or external therapists, include one-to-one instruction focusing on a child’s area of learning needs, as well as small group lessons, depending on the child’s learning needs. There are also two small group early intervention programmes comprising Read-to-Reach and FLAiR, to reinforce the child’s learning, where appropriate.
Meeting financial needs
On top of government subsidies, MFS also provides additional subsidies to the childcare fees of children from low-income families. For example, a child from a family in dire financial straits may pay a little as just under $4 a month as a result of subsidies from the Bright Horizons Fund set up by NTUC First Campus. The Fund also pays for enrichment classes, birthday celebrations, field trips, school excursions, uniforms and school bags for children from low-income families, so that they are not deprived and are able to enjoy as happy a childhood experience as their peers in the MFS centres.
In 2016 alone, more than $5 million has been invested in the various Child Support programmes at MFS, enabling close to 2,000 children to make progress in their learning journey regardless of their circumstances. The various funding sources include NTUC First Campus, the Ministry of Social and Family Development, the Early Childhood Development Agency and the Ministry of Education. Details of the Child Support Model are at the Annex.
Primary, Secondary and Pre-University
Primary, Secondary, and pre-university students from under-privileged families receive practical help from NTUC FairPrice’s Share-A-Textbook programme. Since 1983, Share-A-Textbook programme has collected more than three million used textbooks, which allowed more than 200,000 students to save on textbook expenses. A revolutionary scheme at the time when it first started, its relevance has endured all these 33 years. Just last year alone, Share-A-textbook collected a record number of 400,000 used textbooks.
ITE and Polytechnic
Deserving students from disadvantaged circumstances studying in the Institute of Technical Education and polytechnics, who might otherwise have dropped out of school because of financial difficulties, can receive financial aid in the form of bursaries from the Income OrangeAid Future Development Programme (FDP). OrangeAid is NTUC Income’s community development arm and the FDP is its flagship initiative. One thousand bursaries amounting to $2.5 million have been committed for this programme over a three year period beginning from 2015. The objective is to provide opportunities and empower youth in need to create a better future for themselves through education.
The bursary, which pays for school fees and contributes towards their living expenses, also provides students with opportunities to learn about financial planning and management. In addition, the students on bursary are also offered career and personal development programmes, along with internships and contract positions, which aims to give them a foretaste of working life in not just a financial institution like Income but also in other NTUC social enterprises.
At this morning’s Children’s Day celebration at an NTUC My First Skool centre, NTUC Secretary-General Mr Chan Chun Sing outlined how NTUC cares for people in this aspect. Said Mr Chan: “These programmes provide timely and needful assistance to Singaporeans across the various age-groups. Some programmes are new, pioneering new concepts, while others have been around for longer. Yet, all of them are able to catalyze social change and help Singaporeans make progress through life.”
Continuous Education and Training
Adults who are either working or unemployed can “upskill” or “reskill” at NTUC LearningHub. Since 2004, NTUC LearningHub has equipped more than 1.9 million adult learners with new and relevant skills, which enabled them to either find employment or make progress in their careers. More than 600 courses currently offered at NTUC LearningHub are SkillsFuture ready, and Singaporeans can use their SkillsFuture Credit on them.
Said Mr Tan Suee Chieh, Group CEO of NTUC Enterprise: “As a group, NTUC Social Enterprises are able to offer a suite of solutions to address major concerns of our society. In this case, we are able to address our fellow Singaporeans’ fear of being left behind, and offer practical solutions to enable them – young and old – to make progress through life”.
NTUC First Campus’ Child Support Model
NTUC First Campus (NFC)’s Child Support Model was developed to offer a structured approach in providing for the diverse needs of its pre-school children and their families. It aims to fulfil three things:
- To give pre-school children with diverse needs a good start in life
- To support their learning in My First Skool (MFS)’ full-day integrated programme
- To partner families in children’s development
The Child Support Model targets two main groups:
- Children from low-income families who earn less than $3,500 per month.
- Children with mild developmental needs.
There are four key features in the model:
Providing social, developmental and financial support for the MFS children
- Integrated In-House Capabilities
There are 40 professionals in NFC’s Child Support Services Development. Close collaboration between HQ, MFS and SEED Institute.
- Ecological System Approaches
Partnership with families and community agencies
When fully implemented, programmes will be extended to MFS network of more than 120 centres. Aim to share best practices with Government agencies and Early Childhood Education (ECE) industry.
Services under this model include:
- Priority Placement
- Financial Support
- Social Support
- Well-Being Programmes
- Early Intervention Programmes
- Parent Partnership
Impact of outreach
About 8,000 children benefitted from the support programmes in the last five years (2012 – 2016). In 2016, close to 2,000 children were supported.
Meeting social needs
Under social support, the Child Support Model serves:
- To assist with priority placements for children from low-income families to ensure their children’s enrolment in pre-schools.
- To liaise with community agencies to assist families in need that might be beyond childcare needs such as counselling, jobs, household items, etc.
- Kidstart was set up in 2016 as a joint project with the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) which enables NFC to deepen social support and parent engagement with low-income families.
- Under Kidstart, Child Enabling executives are deployed to centres with relatively higher numbers of children from low-income families
- Child Enabling Executives help to:
- Ensure children’s well-being and development in school
- Build relationship and engage parents in centre activities and workshops
- Collaborate with community partners to support families of Kidstart children
- Currently, there are seven MFS Kidstart centres located at:
- Blk 137 Jalan Bukit Merah
- Blk 180B Boon Lay Drive
- Blk 10 Boon Lay Place #04-01 Boon Lay Community Centre
- Blk 54 Chin Swee Road
- Blk 105-106 Henderson Crescent
- Blk 333 Kang Ching Road
- Blk 505 Yung An Road
Parent Partnership (The Parenting Years)
- Set up as a pilot project in 2015, the Parenting Years offers a modular series of workshops, developed by NFC together with SEED Institute, that aim to equip parents with practical parenting skills and enable them to foster and establish a closer bond between them and their children.
- Targeted group of parents include those who may be overly anxious, do not have time, or who are unsure if what they are doing with their child is right.
- Workshops are planned with the objective to reach out to parents by:
- Sharing information and raising awareness
- Learning practical skills (Practice stations)
- Using this workshop as a platform for sharing , interacting and finding strategies that will work for them and their children
- 13 MFS centres currently offer this programme. There are plans to expand this programme to 36 MFS centres next year.
- Currently, parents who are from Kidstart centres are eligible for full subsidies for the workshops. For parents from non-Kidstart centres, depending on their household income, they may apply to NFC’s Bright Horizons Fund for subsidies.
- A total of 175 parents will benefit from this programme this year, as compared to 30 parents who have benefited from the programme when it was first introduced last year.
Meeting developmental needs
Children at MFS who show signs of mild learning delays benefit from early intervention programmes that enable them to acquire age-appropriate language, literacy and social skills.
- Programmes such as the Development Support Programme, conducted by in-house Learning Support Educators and/or external therapists, include one-to-one instruction focusing on a child’s area of learning needs, as well as small group lessons, depending on the child’s learning needs.
- There are also two small group early intervention programmes comprising Read-to-Reach and FLAiR, to reinforce the child’s learning, where deemed appropriate.
Talented children, on the other hand, benefit from “You’ve Got Talent”, a new programme funded by the Bright Horizons Fund (BHF). Piloted last year at the MFS centres with a higher proportion of children from low-income families, the initiative aims to give children who show potential in sports or the arts the opportunity to develop their talent.
Meeting financial needs
Every year, MFS sets aside places for children from low-income families. This year, 16% of MFS children are from low income families. These families may pay a little as just under $4 a month in fees at MFS. On top of this, the Bright Horizons Fund (BHF) pays for enrichment classes, birthday celebrations, field trips, school excursions, uniforms and school bags for children from low-income families, so that they are able to enjoy as happy a childhood experience as their peers.
Programmes offered at My First Skool at Blk 54 Chin Swee
MFS at Chin Swee currently offers the following services:
- Priority placement
- Financial support
- BHF You’ve Got Talent
- DSP, RTR, FLAiR
- The Parenting Years
- Classroom Co-Facilitators Programme
- Classroom Co-Facilitators support specific children in classroom activities such as having small group learning activities to facilitate behavioral management.
- Centre-Wide Positive Behavioural Support
- A centre-wide teacher training programme to enhance centre culture and environment to help children develop positive behaviours and train teachers to teach children social and emotional literacy.
- About 70% of children have benefited from child support services at this centre.
(*: Non-unique numbers as children can benefit from one or more programmes at the centre).