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RDU advocates inclusivity in race-blind tuition scheme – Singapore News

RDU believes it is imperative to focus on the economic needs of the students rather than their race

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SINGAPORE — The opposition party Red Dot United’s (RDU) Malay Bureau has introduced a race-blind educational policy proposal called the ‘Supporting EduFund Tuition Scheme’ (SETS). This is to help underprivileged children in Singapore, particularly those in Primary 5 and 6, prepare for their PSLE examination.

The scheme has set itself apart from the current government-supported programmes that provide tuition programmes for students and assistance through various ethnic self-help groups. These groups include the Chinese Development Assistance Council (CDAC), the Singapore Indian Development Association (SINDA), and the Council for the Development of Singapore Malay/Muslim Community, commonly known as Yayasan Mendaki.

RDU believes it is imperative to focus on the economic needs of the students rather than their race. 

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“While ethnic self-help groups have made efforts to offer free or low-cost tuition to disadvantaged students, their reach is limited mainly due to the race-based approach where students fail to intermingle and learn from other students of different races and also because of fairly larger class sizes,” said Feroz Mohamed, head of RDU’s Malay Bureau.

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However, RDU is not downplaying the significant contributions made by the ethnic self-help groups.

“Of course, the role of ethnic self-help organisations is not in any way diminished, as they can play a supportive role by providing the specific cultural perspective and help to counsel these needy children and their families regularly,” the party said in its proposal paper on its website. 

RDU believes the SETS programmes could start with 5,000 students from lower-income families of all ethnic backgrounds. It is proposed that one tutor manage each group of four students. Each lesson will be one and a half hours long. There will be one session per week and 30 lessons per year.

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Each tutor will earn approximately S$60 per lesson, while the tuition centre could make about S$720 per month for four lessons per group.

RDU added that SETS, with its commitment to inclusivity and equal access to education, seeks to build a more equitable society, nurturing the potential of underprivileged students while fostering social cohesion in Singapore’s diverse landscape.

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Currently, all three ethnic self-help groups provide tuition programmes with low fees.

There is a one-time $10 commitment fee for students enrolled with the CDAC if they come from families with a gross monthly income not exceeding S$4,800 and/or a gross per capita income not exceeding S$1,400. The CDAC provides a tuition fee waiver for students from families with a gross monthly household income not exceeding S$2,400 and/or gross per capita income not exceeding S$800.

There is a S$10 flat fee for primary and secondary school students enrolling in SINDA’s Tutorials for Enhanced Performance programme if their family has a S$1,000 per capita income. However, SINDA will waive the fee if their family’s per capita income falls below S$1,000.

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For Malay-Muslim students who register under the MENDAKI Tuition Scheme, there is a one-time registration fee of S$10 and no income criteria.

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