Tertiary tuition fee subsidies (TTFS) disbursed by self-help group Yayasan Mendaki to the Malay-Muslim community here reached an all-time high last year at $42 million, enabling more than 10,000 beneficiaries to carry on with studies at government institutions.
Giving a financial overview of the self-help group's 2018 initiatives yesterday, Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs and Mendaki chairman Masagos Zulkifli said it also gave out $5 million in study loans and spent $33 million on a host of community outreach programmes under its three pillars: School Ready, Perform in School and Future Ready.
In total, Mendaki supported almost 67,000 beneficiaries. The increased TTFS figure came on the back of the income eligibility criteria for the scheme being revised in March last year.
Students from households with per capita income of $1,400 and below became eligible for a 100 per cent subsidy, while those with per capita income of between $1,400 and $1,700, and between $1,700 and $2,000, received 75 per cent and 50 per cent subsidy, respectively. These were up from $1,000 and below, $1,001 to $1,200, and $1,201 to $1,500, respectively.
"Going forward, as I said in my Hari Raya speech (on June 15), we want to have nobody behind the red line, which means ensuring all Malay-Muslim students at the very least graduate from an Institute of Technical Education," said Mr Masagos at Mendaki's 30th annual general meeting.
"At the same time we also want to push as many people as possible beyond the blue line, which means getting a university education."
He also said Mendaki has been developing new youth mentorship initiatives, led by Ms Rahayu Mahzam, an MP for Jurong GRC. These will be rolled out before the end of the year.
Mr Masagos, who is also Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, added that support for young people must operate in tandem with support beginning in early childhood. "What you invest in early childhood development will pay off many more times than if you intervene later," he said.
KelasMateMatika@CC (KMM), a programme introduced last September in three locations, aims to equip children aged four to six with basic numeracy skills and empower their parents to be effective guides in their development.
Owing to strong take-up, Minister of State for National Development and Manpower Zaqy Mohamad announced in Parliament in March that KMM will be expanded to five more locations, potentially benefiting over 1,500 Malay-Muslim parents and children.