The latest NTUC U Care Fund assistance programme - U Care Back to School vouchers - will see $5 million set aside to assist 40,000 school-going children of low-income union members with school-related expenses. Applications for the vouchers have commenced till 7 October 2011.
With the focus this year to help low-income union members cope with rising cost of living, the eligibility criteria and validity period of the Back to School vouchers were revised to reach out to more.
Union members can apply for all school-going children within their family if they fulfil the eligibility criteria. The easing of the eligibility criteria involves the raise in the income ceiling. Union members with a gross household income of $2,200 and below or a per capita income of $600 and below are now eligible for the programme. This is a marked increase from a gross household income of $1,800 and below or a per capita income of $500 and below previously.
Each eligible school-going child will receive $125 worth of vouchers valid from 15 November 2011 till 31 March 2012. After feedback from union members, the validity period of the vouchers has been extended beyond the usual three months to four and a half months this year.
The vouchers can be used to purchase textbooks, school shoes, uniforms and other school-related items from bookshops and authorised suppliers at 337 Government and Government-aided schools, 12 Junior Colleges and one Centralised Institute under the Ministry Of Education. This year, there are seven participating retailers accepting these vouchers, offering merchandise such as assessment books, stationery, spectacles, haircuts and others.
The vouchers can also be used at the Back to School Fair from 9-11 December 2011. Held yearly to complement the voucher programme, the fair offers exclusive deals and special promotions for the voucher holders and all union members.
“With concerns like rising cost of living falling on the shoulders of our workers, we need to constantly review and improve our assistance programmes so as to provide relevant help to our low-income members. In the case of our Back to School vouchers, we hope that the revised criteria are timely, and that the programme will continue to reach out to more of our union members to help them with their children’s educational expenses.”
NTUC Care and Share Director Zainudin Nordin
The application period for the vouchers will commence now till 7 October 2011. Ordinary Branch union members can apply directly with the respective unions they belong to. For General Branch union members, they can download the application form from http://www.ntuc.org.sg/backtoschool or obtain the application form from the NTUC Member Services Centre located at NTUC Centre, One Marina Boulevard, #B1-01, S(018989). Further enquires may be directed to the NTUC Hotline at 6213 8008.
Members’ child/children who will be attending schools stated below in Year 2012 are eligible for the vouchers:
• Pre-School Level (Kindergarten 1 and 2)
• Primary to Secondary School Level (Government & Government-aided School under MOE)
• Post-Secondary Level, including Junior Colleges, Millennia Institute, Institute of Technical Education (ITE) and Polytechnics