Four school-based student care centres to open on June 27

SINGAPORE - Four centres which provide after-school care for primary school pupils will open on June 27, when the new school term starts. The student care centres will be based at Fuchun Primary, Greenwood Primary, Teck Whye Primary and Yumin Primary.

This was announced on Monday (June 20) by Parliamentary Secretary for Education and Trade and Industry Low Yen Ling, who chairs the Chinese Development Assistance Council (CDAC)'s Student Education and Development Committee.

The four centres will be run by a joint venture company owned by the four self-help groups: CDAC, Yayasan Mendaki, Singapore Indian Development Association, and Eurasian Association.

Each centre will have about 60 places, though this could increase depending on demand and space. The four centres add to six existing ones. They are among 30 Big Heart Student Care centres that the company aims to run by 2020, to benefit about 6,000 pupils in total.

Ms Low, who spoke to reporters after the CDAC's annual general meeting, said the partnership among the self-help groups allows schools to better support the development of pupils, especially those who are unprivileged, by tapping the resources of the groups.

She said: "After-school care is not an afterthought or just a time-filler. It's a golden opportunity for us to provide holistic support."

Unlike CDAC's tuition programmes run once a week for a few hours each, student care centres open for longer hours during school term and holidays, so there is more time to engage pupils, she added.

Partnerships with schools also allow CDAC to reach out to pupils' families more easily, said CDAC board chairman and Health Minister Gan Kim Yong.

Mr Gan also gave a report card on CDAC's activities last year and an update on its broad strategic directions for the next five years.

Its core programmes benefited 20,000 low-income families last year, a 13.5 per cent increase from the year before. Its information sessions on government policies for the elderly have also gone beyond the topic of the Pioneer Generation Package, to include schemes such as the Lasting Power of Attorney document and MediShield Life.

Given changing demographics in Singapore, Mr Gan said the CDAC started a strategic review exercise in April to ensure its programmes "remain relevant and effective".

The group's boards of directors trustees last week discussed the strategic directions, which included developing more activities for seniors, and emphasising the values of self-reliance and mutual support in its programmes.

Said Mr Gan: "While we're doing good work, we need to be mindful to share these values, particularly among the better-off families. They may not be using our services, but they can also play a role (to help)."

The last review was done about eight years ago. Mr Gan said details of the new strategies are likely to be given by year's end.