SINGAPORE - Some 350 Malay parents and children will, by March next year, go through a free enhanced version of an educational programme that helps with mathematics skills, encourage creativity and bond families.
This KelasMateMatika@CC programme (KMM) will build on self-help group Mendaki's existing Tiga M programme. It will be open to all Malay/Muslim families with young children between four to six whose net household per capita income is $450 or less.
The programme is the first initiative from the M³ collaboration between three key Malay/Muslim organisations: Mendaki, the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) and the People's Association Malay Activity Executive Committees Council (Mesra).
Minister of State for Manpower Mr Zaqy Mohamad, who is the deputy chairman of Mendaki, announced this at a post-National Day Rally dialogue organised by Mesra on Tuesday (Sept 4).
Speaking at the sidelines of the event at the Singapore Management University School of Law, Mr Zaqy said that the Tiga M programme has been successful, and it intended to scale up this success by reaching out to more needy families.
"This is a programme that is able to help families, especially those in the lower income, and help children have a good start in education. We are aiming for preschoolers in which we have seen this programme be successful within a smaller base," he said.
In the Tiga M programme, groups of 25 families - each with a child and at least one parent or family member - go through six weekly sessions that are run by qualified trainers.
Children are exposed to various basic mathematics concepts like numbers, shapes, sorting, while parents learn about teaching approaches that they can use to help their children improve these skills.
In addition to these six sessions, with KMM, parents and children will also go through four weeks of supplementary courses at Community Centres that will expose them to other skills and encourage family bonding.
Each group of 25 families will have to choose and undergo four out of eight pre-selected courses over the four weeks. The courses include cooking, arts and crafts, performing arts and sports.
The first three KMM batches will start on Sept 15 in the CCs at Nee Soon Central, Marsiling and Pasir Ris East.
Organisers said that seven batches of families would have gone through the KMM programme by March next year.
Muis will be carrying out outreach efforts about KMM to needy families that it will identify through its Zakat database.
During his National Day Rally speech last month, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong held up M³ and said that collaboration between Malay/Muslim organisations and the Government can help tackle some challenges faced by the community.
These include getting more children to attend pre-school, empowering and mentoring youth and supporting those who are left behind because of drugs or social problems.
When asked why education was chosen as the first issue to be tackled by M³, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Social and Family Development and Education Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, who was at the event on Tuesday, said that it was important that every child in Singapore had a good start in education.
"At the end of the day you want a Singaporean to have a good start in life and you need to go to where it is critical to ensure this," he said.
"It is in education, and also how you can support the families to ensure that they have the right skills and techniques to raise their child."