Dr Wan Rizal: To ask the Minister for Social and Family Development and Minister-in-charge for Muslim Affairs what are the types of assistance made available to Singaporean students who are studying Islamic studies abroad during this pandemic.
Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs & Minister for Social and Family Development:
- Amidst the global COVID-19 pandemic, Muis has been working closely with government agencies to ensure the safety and well-being of Singaporean students in overseas Islamic universities, and limit disruption to their learning.
- As the pandemic started to spread across the world, Muis worked with Ministry of Foreign Affairs, our overseas missions and foreign embassies to repatriate 410 Singaporean students studying in overseas Islamic universities on chartered flights and special travel arrangements. For 180 students with financial constraints, Muis provided subsidies totaling $102,000 to defray the costs of airfare back to Singapore.
- Where possible, Muis also facilitated online university examinations, so as to minimise disruption to the students’ Islamic studies. Muis also facilitated online Arabic classes and placement tests for students enrolling in overseas Islamic courses during the pandemic.
- In order to make the best use of the repatriated students’ time in Singapore, Muis organised a total of 41 workshops, webinars and engagements between August to December 2020, to allow them to pick up relevant skills and prepare themselves for employment in the Islamic religious sector. The webinars and workshops covered topics such as digital literacy and marketing, communication and public speaking, countering exclusivism, as well as support for mental health. Muis also arranged internships and part-time employment for these students, in religious organisations and the social services sector. 72 students also served as Safe Distancing Ambassadors in the mosques, to keep our community safe from COVID-19.
- Muis will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation and advise students accordingly on the resumption of their overseas studies.