Lower-to middle-income families in Singapore will receive more support to defray the cost of education for their children, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said yesterday.
Primary and secondary school students will also receive $30 and $50 more, respectively, for their Edusave accounts from next January.
Overall, this will result in the Government spending nearly $200 million a year on several schemes.
More students from lower-income families will be eligible for the Edusave Merit Bursary when the Ministry of Education (MOE) raises its gross monthly household income criterion from $6,000 to $6,900. To qualify, these students must be in the top 25 per cent in academic performance in their level and course.
More students will also benefit when the income eligibility criterion for the Independent School Bursary is revised, said Mr Heng, adding that more details will be given at the debate on the MOE's budget.
The ministry will also raise the annual bursary quantum from $750 to $900 for pre-university students - those in junior college or Millennia Institute, which offers a three-year programme leading to the A levels - under its Financial Assistance Scheme (FAS), said Mr Heng.
Secondary school students will have more meals covered under the School Meals Programme, he added. Currently, primary and secondary school students on the FAS get subsidies for seven meals a week in school.
Mr Heng also announced that the annual contribution to the Edusave accounts for primary school pupils will go up by $30 to $230; for secondary school students, it will go up by $50 to $290.
Edusave funds can be used to pay for school-based enrichment programmes or approved miscellaneous fees. The Edusave Scheme was implemented in 1993 to maximise educational opportunities for Singaporean children aged seven to 16.
Mr Heng also said polytechnics and the Institute of Technical Education will pilot a financial education programme for students to help them build a foundation in financial literacy from a young age.
The increased financial support is good news for Madam Norainni Mes Adi, 38, and her 41-year-old husband, who have three sons aged five, 16 and 17. She was diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer in 2014 and stopped work as a clinic assistant to undergo surgery and chemotherapy. Her husband is a cleaning supervisor.
"I don't expect much, so I'm really grateful for any help that my children can get to study. Education is very important for their future, for them to achieve their ambitions," said Madam Norainni.