MARSILING Secondary School Student Loh Foong Ooi, 15, will be adding another set of her school uniform to her wardrobe this year.
Her divorced mother is the sole breadwinner, managing with $900 a month to cover family expenses.
The uniform, and other benefits, come with the enhanced Financial Assistance Scheme (FAS) which applies to primary pupils and secondary students alike. The Ministry of Education scheme will now give free uniforms, in addition to free textbooks already on offer. Also, school fees are waived for needy secondary students, along with 75 per cent of O-level exam fees.
Families with one to two children qualify for FAS if their gross monthly household income is $1,500 or less.
'We can use the money saved to pay off our utility bills and I can even buy assessment books,' said Foong Ooi, who will be sitting for her O-levels this year.
She lives with her mum and elderly grandparents in a three-room Marsiling flat. Foong Ooi has contributed $1,100 to the family coffers from an MOE Scholarship she has got over the past three years.
WHAT'S NEW IN THIS BUDGET
- Free school uniforms on top of free textbooks
- All schools will receive a one-time grant of $10,000
- Schools with more than 10 per cent of students under FAS will receive an additional $10,000
This article was first published in The Straits Times.