Woodgrove residents get help with new skills

Woodgrove residents get help with new skills
Woodgrove MP Ong Teng Koon wants to encourage education for residents through all ages.

Sembawang GRC MP Ong Teng Koon wants to help his constituents, both young and old, learn new skills.

He announced plans for a Continuous Learning Bursary on Thursday, ahead of Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin's visit to his ward on Oct 27.

The bursary will be for residents aged 30 to 60 who are unemployed or earning $1,900 or less a month. It will support them when they sign up for Singapore Workforce Skills Qualifications courses by defraying fees, and transport and other costs.

"Even though these courses are already subsidised, (the extra costs) can still be a few hundred dollars," said Mr Ong. "We'd like to help someone who's just trying to earn that little bit more to support their family."

He plans to launch the bursary next year and grassroots organisations are still working out the details, such as the bursary sum.

For younger residents, there are bursaries for those from needy families and a reading programme for those of pre-school age.

These are just some of the education-related projects by the grassroots organisations of Woodgrove division in Sembawang GRC.

Another is a free six-week computer course for senior citizens which retiree Lee Khuay Boon, 66, attended last year.

He learnt how to browse the Internet, set up an e-mail account and sign up to Facebook. Now he chats on the social media site with his friends.

"It helps me link up with grassroots colleagues and friends," said Mr Lee, who is also chairman of the Zone 2 qigong group.

Mr Ong, the grassroots adviser and MP for Woodgrove, said: "We try to encourage education through all ages."

Woodgrove division was created after the 2011 General Election, which was when Mr Ong entered politics. A community centre had to be built from scratch, across two Housing Board void decks. Yet though 98 per cent of its public flats are four-room or larger, Woodgrove still has its needy residents.

Madam Er Bee Ching's family is one of about 150 who receive food rations every other month, distributed by Woodgrove Citizens' Consultative Committee.

The 46-year-old homemaker lives in a four-room flat with her taxi driver husband and their three children, two of whom have received Woodgrove's bursaries. With necessities such as rice and oil covered, their grocery list is now much shorter. Said Madam Er: "It's really helped us save money."

janiceh@sph.com.sg


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