SINGAPORE - NTUC Income has announced that it will commit $2.5 million to help needy students studying in the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) and polytechnics.
Its latest Future Development Programme will offer 1,000 bursaries over three years to students from low-income families who are likely to forego tertiary education for a job to support their families.
The bursaries will provide students from polytechnics $3,000 annually, while those from ITE will receive $1,800 a year.
The funding will also help the recipients with living expenses so that they have more time to concentrate on their education.
The Future Development Programme is a new initiative under NTUC Income's flagship OrangeAid fund.
Said Mr Ken Ng, Chief Executive of NTUC Income: "OrangeAid strives to level the playing field and provide equal opportunities for children and youth from disadvantaged circumstances. Through the Future Development Programme, we want to make an impact by ensuring that youth from lower income families can achieve a better future through education."
Besides monetary assistance, NTUC Income will empower the selected students by enhancing their financial literacy, as well as provide opportunities for their personal and career development.
NTUC Income will also offer these students internship programmes and contract jobs at NTUC Income during their vacation. It will also provided them with career profiling and guidance, and the opportunity to work at NTUC Income upon graduation.
Ms Serene Koh, Director of Student Services, Ngee Ann Polytechnic, said: "I am delighted that co-operatives like NTUC Income are coming forth to assist needy students. The bursaries awarded by NTUC Income's OrangeAid will complement the existing financial assistance schemes at the educational institutions.
"I am sure that the bursaries will ease the families' financial burden and allow the recipients to continue with their education."
Some 200 students from both the five polytechnics and ITE will receive the bursaries for the first year. The number will double to 400 in 2016, and 400 in 2017.
Mr Bruce Poh, Director & Chief Executive Officer of ITE, said: "More than just extending financial assistance to our needy students, NTUC Income's Future Development Programme provides opportunities for our students to learn about financial planning and management at a young age. This is a skill that will last them throughout their lifetime. The offer of internships and contract positions will also provide our students with the real experience of working in financial institutions. This is consistent with ITE's mission of providing young Singaporeans with the opportunities to acquire skills, knowledge and values for employability and lifelong learning."
Students will apply for the bursary through their schools.
Among the students who have been accepted is Loo Zhi Wei, a second-year student from Republic Polytechnic. An orphan, Zhi Wei, lives with his grandmother and 12-year-old sister. The family survives on $1,000 given to Zhi Wei and his sister by their Community Development Council each month. Zhi Wei also works part-time during his vacation to get more pocket money.
He said: "My father passed away when I was 10 and my mother brought me up to be independent," he said. "When she died during my first year in Republic Polytechnic, my family made do with the resources that we have through careful planning and spending only on things that are absolutely necessary."
The 20-year-old added: "I was very pleased to be informed that I have been awarded the bursary from NTUC Income. The additional funds will ease our financial burden considerably. I will be able to focus more on my studies and, hopefully, get better grades and fulfil my ambition of entering a local university."