May 03, 2020
Supporting Students in Financial Need: School Meal Subsidies to Continue Till End of Circuit Breaker Extension
1. The Ministry of Education (MOE) had earlier provided school meal subsidies in the form of School Smartcard top-ups to all Primary and Secondary students from low-income families during the period of Full Home-Based Learning. This coincided with the original Circuit Breaker (CB) period which was up to 4 May 2020. MOE is grateful that the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS) had come in as a partner for this effort earlier.
2. The CB period is now extended by another 4 weeks to 1 June 2020, and the mid-year school break will be advanced to May. Typically, meal subsidies are not provided during school holidays. However, given the exceptional circumstances this year, together with the Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund (STSPMF), MOE has decided to continue providing meal subsidies through School Smartcard top-ups during this mid-year holidays. STSPMF has committed up to $2 million for this effort. Depending on the amount utilised, the contribution by STSPMF will be matched dollar for dollar by MOE.
3. This top-up is expected to help more than 47,000 Primary and Secondary students on the MOE Financial Assistance Scheme (FAS), MOE Independent School Bursary (ISB), and Special Education (SPED) FAS, who have been receiving meal subsidies during school term. Primary and Secondary students will be receiving $60 and $120 respectively via two top-ups to their School Smartcard, which they can use to purchase food and essential groceries at selected hawker centres, food courts, minimarts, convenience stores and supermarkets. Students can redeem the first top-up at TransitLink Add Value Machines from 5 May 2020, and the second top-up from 18 May 2020. The redemption for both top-ups will end on 10 June 2020. Eligible MOE ISB and SPED FAS students will be separately informed by their schools of the disbursement arrangements.
4. Commenting on this joint initiative, Second Minister for Education Ms Indranee Rajah said: "With businesses unable to operate during the Circuit Breaker, household incomes have been affected and low-income families are feeling the impact more than most. With the school holidays coming up, we wanted to ensure that children from low income families would continue to receive financial support for meals even though there is no school or Home-Based Learning. Hence, we reached out to the Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund and are delighted that they are able to partner us in this meaningful project where we will match their donations dollar for dollar to provide meal support for these children. This is what the spirit of SGTogether and SGUnited is about – pooling resources and helping each other so that we can all pull through together."
5. Mr Warren Fernandez, Chairman of STSPMF, Editor-in-Chief of Singapore Press Holdings' English/Malay/Tamil Media Group and Editor of The Straits Times, added: "The STSPMF was set up to try to prevent kids from going to school hungry. The idea that some might not have enough money to tide them over during the coming school holidays was hard for us to contemplate. When MOE approached us to help address this need, my colleagues on the Board and I felt we should do all we can at this very difficult time. The STSPMF marks its 20th anniversary this year and has been fortunate to have the strong support of many generous donors over the years. In the face of this devastating crisis that has hit the entire world, now is the time to dig deep to help as much as we can."
6. STSPMF provides school pocket money to about 10,000 primary, secondary and post-secondary students from low-income families yearly. The money is disbursed to these students through the support of mainstream schools and social service agencies islandwide.
7. This joint initiative complements the range of support measures put in place under the Unity, Resilience and Solidarity budgets, to support Singaporeans who are affected by the outbreak of COVID-19 and the circuit breaker measures. MOE will continue to monitor the situation closely and work with community partners and stakeholders to support our students during this challenging time.