$9m given out to 40,000 families under U Care schemes

A salesgirl arranging shoes at the Back To School fair at the National Library. The two-day fair complements a voucher programme in which $125 tokens are given out to help children buy school supplies.
A salesgirl arranging shoes at the Back To School fair at the National Library. The two-day fair complements a voucher programme in which $125 tokens are given out to help children buy school supplies.ST PHOTO: ASHLEIGH SIM

The National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) revealed that almost $9 million has been given out to more than 40,000 needy families this year under its U Care assistance programmes.

Launched in 2009, these aim to improve the welfare of its low-income union members through schemes such as the Back To School voucher programme.

"The cost of buying new school supplies can pose quite a heavy burden for them, especially if they have more than one child," said Mr Zainal Sapari, director of NTUC Care and Share, last Saturday.

Revealing the figure in a speech at a Back To School fair, he later added that NTUC is looking to help these children gain access to enrichment programmes in areas such as sports and art.

The annual Back To School fair complements the voucher programme, in which $125 tokens are handed out so that schoolchildren can buy items such as assessment books, spectacles and stationery.

The voucher programme allows them to buy not only school textbooks but also things that interest them, such as magazines and colour pencils to spur their interest in art, said Mr Zainal.

More than 29,000 schoolchildren have benefited from the scheme this year.

Madam Rofina Tan, 36, received the vouchers for the first time this year and used them to buy schoolbags and stationery for her two sons at the two-day Back To School fair, which was held at the National Library over the weekend. "I'm very happy because with the vouchers, the bags we got are much better," she said.

"Usually we try not to spend money on such items because they're very expensive."

kcarolyn@sph.com.sg