Mendaki gave out record $43 million in tertiary tuition fee subsidies in 2019

Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Masagos Zulkifli said the group expects to distribute even more funds from the scheme this year. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - More than 10,600 beneficiaries of Yayasan Mendaki's Tertiary Tuition Fee Subsidies (TTFS) were given assistance in pursuing further studies to the tune of $43 million last year - a record high.

The self-help group had spent $42 million under this scheme to support 10,000 beneficiaries in 2018.

The scheme subsidises fees for eligible Malay students pursuing their first diploma or degree at local government tertiary institutions.

Mendaki released its 2019 report on Monday (Aug 24), offering a financial overview of the group's activities.

It also announced that $3.7 million in study loans were disbursed and that it spent $32.3 million on a host of community outreach programmes.

In total, Mendaki supported more than 91,000 beneficiaries.

In a virtual press conference that day, Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs and Mendaki chairman Masagos Zulkifli said while the group recorded a surplus of $12.6 million from last year which it is now using to fund its operations, it has been spending more this year and has already had to dip into its reserves for the first time.

Mendaki, which taps a variety of sources for funds, including grants, donations and investments, had to spend $1.9 million from its reserves so far this year, which Mr Masagos said had been mainly spent on securing laptops for children in the community during the circuit breaker period - when most lessons were held virtually - and to help ITE students whose family income was impacted by Covid-19.

Mr Masagos, who is also Minister for Social and Family Development, said that the group expects to distribute even more funds from TTFS this year.

It announced in April that it would reopen applications to include those whose family income might have been affected due to Covid-19.

Typically, applications would have closed by the end of July, but students can currently still apply for TTFS.

"We have not seen a surge yet. There are already new applications, but we foresee that more TTFS will be disbursed next year too, and we are budgeting for this," said Mr Masagos.

The minister added that Mendaki will maintain its focus and continue to encourage children in the community to attend early childhood education and to get parents more involved in their children's learning.

Senior Minister of State for Manpower and Defence Zaqy Mohamed, who is the group's deputy chairman and was also at the press conference, said that another priority for Mendaki is supporting community members whose jobs were affected by Covid-19 disruptions.

Mendaki has launched a dedicated hotline and works with job seekers to find opportunities via an app called CariKerja. It will continue to share information on available jobs with the community, said Mr Zaqy.

It is also working with government agencies to link job seekers, including fresh graduates, with companies looking to fill vacancies created by the spread of the coronavirus, as well as training opportunities that could help them re-skill to eventually gain employment.

"I think Mendaki's role is to prepare them, to make sure that they know where the opportunities are, (to) do the outreach; and certainly for those who are coming out of school, (to help them) better prepare themselves to take up some of these traineeships in the short term," he said.

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