The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund will raise monthly quantum for beneficiaries from July 2011 to help them cope with inflation.
SINGAPORE, 22 MARCH 2011 - Some 11,000 primary and secondary school students from low-income families will get more financial help from The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund (SPMF) for school-related expenses from July 2011.
Primary and secondary school students will each get $10 more a month - from the current $45 and $80 respectively - to help them cope with inflation which has surged to a two-year high, rising to 4.6 per cent in December from a year ago.
Many school tuckshop vendors, faced with rising cost of food items, have also raised their prices in recent months.
The Government expects inflation for this year to come in at 3 to 4 per cent, with consumer prices set to rise further to 5 to 6 per cent in the first few months of this year.
Mr Han Fook Kwang, Editor of The Straits Times, said the Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund collected a record $8.3 million last year - more than its annual target of $5 million, thanks to the robust Singapore economic recovery and a surge in donations from big-hearted companies and individuals.
With the extra donations, SPMF and National Council of Social Service (NCSS), which administers and disburses the fund, felt it was timely to raise the monthly quantum as a way for SPMF to share more with poor children in time of need.
Mr Han announced the extra financial help for SPMF beneficiaries today (22 March 2011) at the 25th anniversary celebration of Stuttgart Auto at The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore where he received a cheque donation for $250,000 from the Porsche distributor in Singapore.
He said: "Our donors have been wonderful. They identified with the cause and the need to get our children to move up the education ladder. We are exploring new ways to ensure that the Fund is well-utilised to further meet our beneficiaries' school-related expenses.''
The School Pocket Money Fund, a community project started by The Straits Times in October 2000, has raised more than $30 million since its launch and supported some 86,000 needy cases with school related expenses such as money to pay for public transport to school or buy a meal during recess.
The NCSS has estimated that the increase in monthly quantum will benefit about 10,900 needy students this year - 60 per cent of whom are in primary schools. About 4,800 or 44 per cent of the beneficiaries are projected to be new cases, with the rest being carried forward from last year.
The higher quantum – an average of 17 per cent more than the previous amounts set in 2008 - will help the children in coping with rising costs so that they can stay in school. With the increase, the School Pocket Money Fund expects to disburse about $4.5million this year, nearly $400,000 more than last year.
The latest move is the collective effort by NCSS, The Straits Times, which is published by Singapore Press Holdings Ltd, and voluntary welfare organisations to help lower-income families to achieve self-reliance and independence, and allow children from poor families to move up.
Two new disbursing agencies - Assumption Pathway School and Northlight School - will also be included this year, bringing the total to 67 disbursing agencies altogether.
Ms Tina Hung, Deputy CEO of the NCSS, which disburses the funds through its network of Family Service Centres, children's homes, special schools and disability agencies, said: "NCSS conducts regular reviews to ensure that the fund remains responsive to the needs of the children from low-income families through feedback from our network of social workers. We are grateful for the higher quantum of assistance from SPH so that the children can do well in school, be confident and engaged without worrying about basic needs."
Mr Karsono Kwee, Executive Chairman of Stuttgart Auto, said the $250,000 donation to the School Pocket Money Fund reflects the company's commitment to the community.
“While we want to celebrate the launch of this very special Porsche today and the 25th Anniversary of Stuttgart Auto, it is also important to remember the wider community and to continue to do our part to help the needy. As a long-standing partner and contributor to the Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund, we hope that the amount donated will go a long way in helping the less-fortunate and to alleviate the financial burden faced by parents in providing for their children's education. This is one of the ways that Stuttgart Auto hopes to contribute back to the society.”