BUDGET 2019: Honouring the Merdeka Generation

Special needs teacher grateful for healthcare benefits

Ms Barbara D'Cotta, 60, put her higher education dreams aside at age 19 and started work as a special needs teacher as she had to support herself and her mother. She had not felt until recently that her work had helped build a nation.
Ms Barbara D'Cotta, 60, put her higher education dreams aside at age 19 and started work as a special needs teacher as she had to support herself and her mother. She had not felt until recently that her work had helped build a nation.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

Despite having worked for four decades as a special education teacher, Ms Barbara D'Cotta, 60, had not felt until recently that her work had helped build a nation.

"But the advertisements on the Merdeka Generation got me thinking, and when I looked around at many of my friends, I realised that they were actually pioneers in their own field," she said.

She is glad about the Merdeka Generation Package. "It is very thoughtful of the Government to look into the needs of a generation like mine... Many of us did not go for higher education because of family needs or the lack of opportunities,"said Ms D'Cotta.

She could not pursue higher education when she wanted to as she had to start work as a special needs teacher at age 19 to support herself and her mother.

She went on to get a bachelor's degree in special education.

Ms D'Cotta, who is now studying for a master's degree, was hailed by Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat as "an excellent example of lifelong learning and giving".

She is determined to continue contributing to the community and mentor other teachers.

 

The healthcare subsidies and Medisave top-ups in the package would make up for the 10-year shortfall in her CPF savings when she stopped working to care for her two children, she said with a laugh. "It'll certainly come in handy now that we're all edging into our 60s!"

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 19, 2019, with the headline 'Special needs teacher grateful for healthcare benefits'. Print Edition | Subscribe