CDAC to open two more centres for after-school care

Mr Baey Yam Keng (from left), chairman of CDAC's volunteers committee, Mr Gan Kim Yong, CDAC's board chairman, and board members Low Yen Ling and Grace Fu meeting reporters after the council's 23rd AGM yesterday.
Mr Baey Yam Keng (from left), chairman of CDAC's volunteers committee, Mr Gan Kim Yong, CDAC's board chairman, and board members Low Yen Ling and Grace Fu meeting reporters after the council's 23rd AGM yesterday.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

THE Chinese Development Assistance Council (CDAC) will open at least two more school-based student care centres by the end of the year.

The move follows the success and popularity of two centres the Chinese community's self-help group started in the past 11 months.

In making the announcement yesterday, CDAC board member Low Yen Ling said details of the the upcoming centres will be unveiled in the next two months.

These centres provide supervised after-school care within the schools' premises. Most of the pupils at the centres are from lower-income families with working parents who pay a subsidised fee.

Last July, the first centre opened its doors at Bendemeer Primary school, with 60 pupils.

By January this year, it had doubled its intake to 120.

The CDAC is now working with the school to raise it further to 180, said Ms Low, who is Parliamentary Secretary for Social and Family Development and chairs the CDAC's Student Education and Development Committee.

The second centre was opened at Chongfu School, a primary school in Yishun, in January this year. Half of the 60 places have been taken up, and the rest are expected to be filled soon.

Pupils at the centres are supervised as they do their homework and take part in art and sports activities before going home at 7pm.

The fee is $285 a month, but government subsidies of between $55 and $255 are available for those in need.

Ms Low expects the demand for such after-school care to rise as dual income households become increasingly common.

It is therefore important for the centres to focus on holistic development programmes to nurture positive behaviour in the children and not just concentrate on academic work.

"It is not an afterthought but an integral part of the schools' effort to provide holistic education," Ms Low told reporters after the CDAC's 23rd annual general meeting (AGM) yesterday.

Last year, about 16,000 students - 20 per cent more than in 2013 - gained from programmes such as tuition, enrichment and assistance schemes, she said.

At the AGM, CDAC board chairman Gan Kim Yong, who is also the Health Minister, gave a report on its activities last year.

For instance, the CDAC held five sessions in the heartlands to help some 2,200 residents better understand the Pioneer Generation Package.

This effort for the elderly was carried out by CDAC volunteers who were conversant in Mandarin and Chinese dialects, said Mr Baey Yam Keng, chairman of CDAC's Volunteers Engagement and Development Committee.

He added that 600 volunteers joined the CDAC last year, bringing the total to 4,200.

Of these, half were 30 years old and younger.

As for the CDAC's future plans, Mr Gan said it is doing a strategic review of its workers' training and upgrading programmes to better complement the new SkillsFuture scheme to encourage lifelong learning of industry-relevant skills.

The review will be completed by year's end.

ziliang@sph.com.sg

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 20, 2015, with the headline 'CDAC to open two more centres for after-school care'. Print Edition | Subscribe