Govt extends self-help groups' reach

Govt extends self-help groups' reach

HE self-help groups for the Indian and Eurasian communities will be getting more government funding from this year.

The dollar-for-dollar matching grants for donations raised by the Singapore Indian Development Association (Sinda) and Eurasian Association (EA) will be doubled so that they can help more families.

Sinda will receive up to $3.4 million this year, up from $1.7 million previously, while the EA will receive up to $400,000, up from $200,000.

Chinese self-help group Chinese Development Assistance Council (CDAC) will get a one-off $10 million grant for this year to 2018. The last time it received a similar government grant was also a one-off sum of $10 million for 1992 to 1997.

These grants will help self-help groups run more programmes, said Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong. "We will do our part to support what they are doing and support their good work."

The amounts were based on the sizes of the communities and the programmes proposed by the groups, he told reporters after a visit to a CDAC tuition centre at Rivervale Primary School yesterday.

He added that the CDAC does not get an annual matching grant like the rest because the Chinese community, being the largest, is in a "much better position to raise funds on its own".

"We do lean a bit more generously towards the smaller ones," said Mr Wong.

The grants increases announced yeterday came after the self-help groups said on Saturday that they will be raising contribution rates from next year to cope with rising costs and pay for new programmes.

The monthly contribution rates will go up by between 50 cents and $23. These donations are deducted from workers' salaries, but workers can opt out.

The matching grant for Malay self-help groups Yayasan Mendaki, the Association of Muslim Professionals and other Malay Muslim organisations was raised from $4 million to $5 million earlier this year.

Self-help groups welcome the extra government funds.

An EA spokesman said that it will explore running more programmes, without giving details.

Sinda's chief operating officer, Ravindran Nagalingam, said the group will expand programmes targeted at Indian families.

CDAC executive director Goh Chim Khim said: "The one-off grant will help us to serve more lower income families and individuals." It is also looking at expanding enrichment classes for primary school pupils, on top of basic tuition.

Housewife Y. L. Wong, 40, who has two daughters in Primary 4 and 6 attending CDAC's weekly tuition and enrichment classes, supports the expansion of tuition programmes.

"The CDAC teachers are volunteers and they are passionate about teaching. My daughters' grades have improved," she said.

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