Investing in our future
Speech by Mr Zaqy Mohamad, Minister of State for Ministry of National Development & Ministry of Manpower at the Committee of Supply Debate 2020
06 March 2020
- Mr Chairman, let me touch on our efforts to strengthen our community’s competencies through MENDAKI. There are three drivers in today’s education landscape that provide the impetus for transforming MENDAKI.
- First, good preschool education is critical to the development of children. Every child should have access to this regardless of background.
- Secondly, as Dr Intan highlighted, our education approach in schools is changing, and MOE is catering for greater flexibility in education for students with different abilities and interests.
- Third, in a fast-changing world, lifelong learning is a must.
MENDAKI’s policy transformation
- In response to these changes, MENDAKI will enhance its mission to provide end-to-end educational support for our Malay/Muslim community.
- As Minister Masagos mentioned, the community has shown significant progress in school dropout and failure rates. We can now focus on new challenges to take the community forward.
- Completing school today is not enough. We want our children to succeed in school, and be equipped to achieve successful careers.
Equipping our young children with a strong foundation
- Dr Intan and Mr Saktiandi asked about our plans to support the pre-school sector. For our young children, we want to equip them with a strong foundation so that they can achieve in life.
- While initiatives such as the Preschool Outreach Programme have paid off, there are vulnerable families in our community who may need extra support. Thus, Mendaki and Muis have set up the MENDAKI-MUIS Preschool Grant (MMPG), which builds on existing government initiatives to provide additional financial support for our low-income parents.
- With MMPG, beneficiaries can see a quadrupling of their CDA savings. For example, if you put just $1 a day in your child’s account, you will have $30 in a month. MMPG will double that amount to $60. The Government’s CDA co-matching initiative will double the $60 to $120 a month. The money can then be used to pay for your child’s education and medical needs. Contribute $1, and you get another $3 to support your child.
- On the academic front, MENDAKI also started KelasMateMatika@CC (KMM@CC) with the support of M3 for Malay preschoolers to (i) reinforce basic numeracy skills, and (ii) help parents be more involved in their children’s development. Last year, more than 1,200 children and parents benefitted from KMM.
- Over 90% of parents who attended KMM said they now recognise the importance of preschool education, and are confident of how to develop their children’s numeracy skills. MENDAKI is planning to scale up KMM, to benefit more families this year.
Supporting our youths to achieve their aspirations
- As our children progress into schools, MENDAKI Tuition Scheme (MTS) and MOE’s UPLIFT programme step in to help those who need extra coaching and motivation to attend school more regularly. So far, more than 7,500 students have enrolled in our 85 MTS centres. By next year, we intend to introduce 15 more centres.
- The academic performance of our MTS students has been encouraging. In 2018, 60% of MTS students who took Standard Mathematics achieved at least 1 grade improvement in their PSLE result, compared to their year-end result the previous year.
- However, like Dr Intan said, we recognise the need to improve MTS, given our evolving education landscape. This is why Mendaki will review the MTS in five areas: (i) Governance and leadership, (ii) Curriculum, (iii) Pedagogy, (iv) Professional development of our tutors, as well as (v) Outreach.
- Beyond educational support, I agree with Mr Amrin Amin that it is also important to provide emotional support and career guidance for our youths. With support of the other M3 agencies, MENDAKI has set up a Youth Mentoring Office (YMO) to grow a culture of mentoring within the community. We now have over 700 volunteer mentors, and 200 of them are already on the ground to support our work with the community.
Developing a culture of lifelong learning
- A key aspect of the Budget this year was about supporting Singaporeans in lifelong learning. The ability to upskill, adapt to industry shifts, and be ready for new opportunities is the key to staying relevant. Mr Saktiandi asked how MENDAKI will be supporting the community in this area.
- We want to encourage our adults to take up various initiatives to support their learning, such as the SkillsFuture Credit top up announced in Budget 2020. This is especially useful for our mature workers who are looking to improve their prospects.
- MENDAKI SENSE will continue to guide jobseekers and workers on how to make full use of the opportunities provided by the government, that they access desired jobs. MENDAKI SENSE has helped has helped over 2,000 Malay jobseekers, who come through its doors, find employment through their programmes in the last 5 years, and will continue to strengthen its efforts.
- This year, Raikan Ilmu will also champion Lifelong Learning. Our first Raikan Ilmu reached out to over 30,000 participants last year. We hope to further our outreach to 40,000 this year.
- Chairman, allow me to conclude in Malay.
- Kami komited untuk memberi sokongan pendidikan yang menyeluruh, pada setiap peringkat kehidupan, bagi masyarakat kita. MENDAKI sedang memperkukuhkan inisiatif-inisiatif mereka dalam menghadapi perubahan dalam landskap pendidikan dan pekerjaan.
- Ini bermula dengan usaha yang menggalak pembelajaran dan pembangunan kanak-kanak, menyokong aspirasi belia, serta membangunkan budaya pembelajaran sepanjang hayat. Di sini, kami berharap masyarakat memahami betapa pentingnya meningkatkan taraf pendidikan dan mendakap semangat pembelajaran sepanjang hayat.
- Ayuh, kita meningkatkan usaha untuk menjadikan masyarakat yang mempunyai kemahiran yang kukuh dan terus menyumbang kepada kejayaan Singapura.
English translation of Malay paragraph
- We are committed to providing end-to-end support for the community. MENDAKI is enhancing their initiatives in response to the changing education and employment landscape.
- This starts from efforts that encourage the learning and development of young children, to supporting the aspirations of youths, and building a culture of lifelong learning. In turn, we hope that Malay/Muslim Singaporeans recognise the importance of improving our educational outcomes and pursuing lifelong learning.
- Come, let us double our efforts to become a competent community and continue to contribute to the success of Singapore.
Last updated on 06 March 2020