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Growing up without a computer

Some Singaporean families cannot afford a computer at home but there are schemes to help them

Published on Aug 24, 2014 1:01 PM

In retiree John Welford's household, the six children do not suffer from a problem that afflicts many other families - addiction to the use of the computer for games or social media.

They strictly take turns to use the computer only on weekends or on weekdays between 8 and 10pm. Those are the only times they have a computer to use, when one of the Welford children, advertising manager Vargilia, 27, brings home her company- issued laptop.

Apart from that, they have no other computers at home. They are among Singaporean families who could be lagging behind in information technology developments because they have less financial resources.

Their children conduct research or send e-mail in school or public libraries. Some borrow their siblings' work computers or go to their neighbour's house.

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Background story


The Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) has a programme to help low-income families with schoolgoing children own a new computer with Internet access.

The NEU PC Plus scheme provides subsidies of up to 75 per cent of the cost of a computer. Under it, a desktop can cost as low as $146, and a laptop as low as $214.

Started in 2006, the programme has helped more than 18,000 families. It was enhanced in May this year, and households with a gross monthly income of less than $3,000 can now qualify. Previously, the income ceiling for eligible families was $2,700.

Families can apply for the programme through their children's schools or at lead agencies appointed by IDA, such as the Singapore Indian Development Association, the Eurasian Association of Singapore and Mendaki.

The application process takes about three months, including the delivery of the computer and/or the setup of the broadband service.