Islamic Education Fund to be made available to more needy students

The number of needy students who benefit yearly is expected to rise from 2,000 to 4,000 by 2016, with more people now qualifying for assistance, said Muis chief executive Abdul Razak Maricar. -- PHOTO: BERITA HARIAN FILE
The number of needy students who benefit yearly is expected to rise from 2,000 to 4,000 by 2016, with more people now qualifying for assistance, said Muis chief executive Abdul Razak Maricar. -- PHOTO: BERITA HARIAN FILE

SINGAPORE - A scheme to finance Islamic education will be made available to more young Muslims.

The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) said on Saturday that it has revised the eligibility criteria for assistance programmes under the Islamic Education Fund scheme.

The fund, which got a $2 million boost from Muis this year, was introduced in 2004. It provides subsidies for needy students and aims to widen outreach to young Muslims.

For now, 2,000 needy students benefit yearly. But this number is expected to rise to 4,000 by 2016, with more people now qualifying for assistance, said Muis chief executive Abdul Razak Maricar.

Under the revised criteria, the Needy Student Grant will now be made available to students from families with a per capita income of $500 and below, up from the previous limit of $450.

This means children from a family of four, with a total income of up to $2,000, will be able to qualify.

A Family Support Rebate - up to two months of mosque madrasah fees - will also be extended to families with at least two children, and with a per capita income of between $501 and $750. Previously, it was capped at a total household income of $3,000.

To encourage more children to attend religious classes, financial assistance will also be extended those who attend such classes at non-profit organisations, something not done before. A sum of $100,000 has been set aside for this purpose for the next two years.

Speaking at the Al-Mawaddah Mosque in Sengkang, Mr Abdul Razak said: "Islamic education will continue to be one of the areas of Muis' focus and we are committed to reach out to many more of our young who have not been touched by Islamic education."

He also pledged to ensure that religious classes for the young will "take into account contemporary issues and provide relevant guidance for them in their daily lives".

Since 2004, a total of $3.5 million has been disbursed to help defray the costs of monthly fees and learning materials for more than 11,000 students attending mosque madrasahs.

On Saturday, Mr Abdul Razak also launched Muis' Kids aLIVE Home Edition - a home-schooling programme for children aged five to eight.

Adapted from an existing aLIVE curriculum that is offered in 35 mosques here, the new programme aims to help parents who want to teach their children on their own.

Under the programme, these parents will receive support from religious teachers on content and teaching approach.

Mr Abdul Razak said 12 Singaporean families - including one living in Dubai and one in Azerbaijan - have taken part in a pilot of the programme and have given positive feedback.

"It is an opportunity for you to be your children's first teachers and to also tailor it to your child's unique learning style and needs," he said.

waltsim@sph.com.sg