A united and caring society means that no one gets left behind. Sometimes, that means deploying targeted approaches rather than a one-size-fits-all solution to uplift and inspire different communities.
During Day 7 of the Committee of Supply debate (Mar. 6), our MPs spoke up on the challenges facing Malay/Muslims today and how we, as a society, can overcome them.
Uplifting lower-income families
“The Malay/Muslim community has made significant strides over the decades to achieve self-reliance and social mobility,” noted Minister-in-Charge of Muslim Affairs Mr Masagos Zulkifli.
However, all of us have a role to play in uplifting the community to build a stronger Singapore, said Minister Masagos.
This ethos is behind the launch of Project [email protected]3 in 2021—an initiative endowing Malay/Muslim families in rental flats with the tools to achieve economic sufficiency and build a positive family environment.
Lauding these as admirable goals, Dr Wan Rizal (Jalan Besar GRC) asked about the reach and progress of the Project so far.
In addition, Mr Mohd Fahmi Aliman (Marine Parade GRC) asked if there are any plans to expand the network of partners within the M3 framework to benefit more families.
Responding to these queries, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Dr Maliki Osman, shared that Project Dian has reached out to over 70 per cent of Malay households in its pilot phase.
The Dian Ambassador programme, launched in October 2022, also provides learning support to Project Dian families with young children in the hopes of closing the education attainment gap.
The endgame is to give all children the best start in life, a proven solution to improve intergenerational mobility.
And as Project Dian continues to bring about tangible changes to the lives of many, it will be expanded to three new towns (Choa Chu Kang, Jurong and Tampines) this year, announced Minister Maliki.
Building a solid learning foundation
Besides integrated support, providing children with a solid learning foundation is also one of the key ingredients to achieving social mobility.
In that regard, Ms Mariam Jaafar (Sembawang GRC) asked if MENDAKI’s education programmes are doing enough for our children.
To that, Senior Minister of State (SMS) for Manpower and Defence Zaqy Mohamad shared that MENDAKI conducts several programmes to ensure children are ready for the rigours of school.
KelasMateMatika (KMM), for example, is an upstream developmental programme that builds parents’ confidence in assisting their children learning basic numeracy concepts.
Since 2018, the programme has supported approximately 4,000 children, and 80 per cent of KMM graduates do not require additional learning support in Math at the primary level.
Another stalwart programme is the MENDAKI Tuition Scheme (MTS), available at 100 centres island-wide.
According to SMS Zaqy, fees for MTS have also been reduced from $210 to $10 per year for tuition of up to three subjects.
“With the opening of more centres in the neighbourhood and more affordable fees, I hope more will join and benefit from the programme.”
Improving employment prospects
The next stage after education is employment.
But faced with global and domestic challenges, Mr Saktiandi Supaat (Bishan–Toa Payoh GRC) asked for an update on whether Malay-Muslim professionals are prepared to seize potential opportunities to ensure future employability and progress.
In his reply, SMS Zaqy shared that the Government has strengthened the partnerships across the M³ network to better assist Malay/Muslim workers with their employment needs (i.e. training, upskilling and job placements).
“Since establishing this referral process, we have reached out to close to 2,000 Malay/Muslim workers to advise and guide them on their careers.”
Furthermore, MENDAKI will expand its Professional Network programme, a real-life LinkedIn helping Malay/Muslim professionals connect with others in their field.
By including other in-demand industries such as Finance, Sustainability and Engineering, we can inspire and guide younger workers to pursue a wide range of career pathways in growing industries, said SMS Zaqy.
Images: MENDAKI/M3 via Facebook/MCI via YouTube/KidSTART