OCBC Bank and staff contribute S$1 million to kickstart the OCBC-NTUC First Campus Bridging Programme, which will help to make pre-school education free for children from low-income families
Singapore, 23 Sep 2019 -- OCBC Bank and NTUC First Campus (NFC) today unveiled plans for the OCBC-NTUC First Campus Bridging Programme, which will make pre-school education free for children from low-income families from 2020 to 2024. Under this programme, OCBC Bank will fund an average of two years of childcare fees - after the government subsidy - for children of union members with monthly household incomes of S$4,500 or less; who are new enrolments and commence classes at My First Skool from 1 Jan 2020.
OCBC Bank and staff will contribute S$1 million to the NFC’s Bright Horizons Fund (BHF) over five years. Each eligible child will receive a one-time payout of S$400 into his or her Child Development Account (CDA) and this will be matched, dollar-for-dollar by the Singapore Government1 if the family meets the criteria for the Baby Bonus Scheme. The total amount of S$800 can cover the first two years of childcare fees of S$720 - after the government subsidy - for families with household income of less than S$4,500 a month.
For families with household income of S$3,000 and below who pay school fees of S$72 for two years after the government subsidy, the remaining money can be used for other education and healthcare expenses approved under the Baby Bonus Scheme.
An estimated 500 children will benefit from the programme each year, making it a total of 2,500 children over five years.
As added support for the children and their families, OCBC Bank will also be organising financial literacy workshops for parents, to help them better manage their family finances. These workshops will be conducted by staff volunteers from its Wealth Management team on a quarterly basis throughout the duration of the five-year programme. Details on how eligible families can sign up for the financial literacy workshops will be announced later.
The collaboration between OCBC Bank and NTUC First Campus was cemented at a signing ceremony today between Mr Samuel Tsien, Group CEO of OCBC Bank and Mr Chan Tee Seng, CEO of NFC. It was witnessed by Mr Ng Chee Meng, NTUC Secretary-General and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office.
Sharing the rationale behind OCBC Bank’s support for this programme, Mr Samuel Tsien, OCBC Bank’s Group CEO said, “OCBC believes that no child should be deprived of an education because of family circumstances. With the recent announcement of hefty subsidies for pre-school education that will take effect from January 2020, the fees to be paid by low income families will range from S$36 to S$360 a year. Yet, we understand that there are still some families who may struggle to put their children in school. And for some others, this sum of money can continue to be a reason not to send their children to school. That is why we thought – why not help to make pre-school education free for these families for at least the first two years?”
“We hope that after the first two years of engagement in school, seeing the benefits it brings to the children, families will be more willing to do all they can to support their children’s education,” he added.
The OCBC-NTUC First Campus Bridging Programme comes under the #OCBCCares Programme which focuses on addressing unfilled gaps in our society, meeting needs that really matter.
NFC Increases Income Ceiling for its Child Support Services
Separately, NFC also announced that as part of its strategic efforts in touching the lives of more low-income families, it will raise the income ceiling for its Child Support Services. The eligibility criteria will be raised from HHI ≤ $3,500 p.m. or per capita income (PCI) PCI ≤ $875 p.m. (applicable for households with 5 or more members) to HHI ≤ $4,500 p.m. or PCI ≤ $1,125 p.m. (applicable for households with 5 or more members) from 1 Jan 2020. The new income ceiling will apply to application for BHF programmes and priority registration for MFS pre-schools.
Bright Horizons Fund Programmes - The BHF provides financial support to children from low-income families which covers school uniforms and fieldtrip expenses etc. It also finances learning programmes such as the Classroom Support Programme and English literacy programme, and well-being programmes such as educational tours to the zoo. The OCBC-NTUC First Campus Bridging Programme is a new addition to BHF’s offering to children from low-income families.
Priority Registration for MFS Pre-schools - NFC also accords priority registration to Singaporean children from low-income families when they enrol in MFS’ network of pre-schools. This programme gives these children priority access to childcare places in MFS pre-schools, subject to availability of vacancies.
Professor Tan Cheng Han, Chairman, NFC said, “The challenge of social mobility will continue to be one that requires our collective commitment and resolve to manage and address. Research has shown that investments in early childhood education contribute greatly to bridging the social divide, and NTUC First Campus is determined to play a leading role in making high quality pre-school education accessible to all Singapore families. To this end, our expenditure on financial, developmental and social support programmes for low-income families and children with learning delays will increase to $8.6 million in 2020, about a 26% increase from 2019. We are able to do this because of the partnership with socially-responsible organisations such as OCBC and the Government. Equally, our educators’ and staff’s dedication and buy-in from families are critical for us to achieve the desired outcomes. Together, we can work towards a shared future where no child is denied access to education.”