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The Straits Times: She helps pupils with special needs cope in school

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portrait of Madam Tutek Alauyah Amir

by Nur Syahiidah Zainal, 3 October 2016

Just as school starts to wind down in the last quarter, Madam Tutek Alauyah Amir’s work picks up speed.

Her mind skips ahead to new pupils entering Tampines Primary School next year – specifically the ones with special needs like dyslexia, autism or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder – that she is gearing up to help.

For her dedication, the 56-year- old, an allied educator for learning and behavioural support at the school, won the Leading Foundation Teacher Award (LFTA) last year. The LFTA, started in 2014, specifically recognises early childhood and special needs education teachers who have made a difference to their pupils. Read more.

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Singapore Tatler: Living Legacy

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Engaging magazine article highlighting living legends, individuals whose exceptional contributions have made them iconic figures in their respective domains.

More people are starting to think about philanthropy and giving back, instead of leaving it as a post-retirement consideration. Thio Shen Yi and Stefanie Yuen Thio, and Adrian and Susan Peh tell Singapore Tatler how they are making more strategic and effective giving through their private charity funds with the Community Foundation of Singapore.
Read more.

Courtesy of Singapore Tatler, October 2018

Speaking after the association’s annual general meeting at Kallang Netball Centre on Friday, Liang-Lin, a fund manager for a US$7 billion (S$9.5 billion) firm focused on green real estate investments in Asia, hopes to bring her expertise to the table and increase the amount of financial support for Singapore netball during her four-year term.

The 53-year-old took over from Deputy Speaker of Parliament Jessica Tan, who has been the association’s president since 2012. Tan had reached the end of her tenure, which saw the national team make several breakthroughs, including a gold medal at the 2015 SEA Games in Singapore.

Liang-Lin holds various appointments such as being Singapore’s representative to the G20 for Women appointed by the Ministry of Finance. She is also a board member of the Community Foundation of Singapore, which promotes philanthropy through facilitating the establishment of charitable funds.

She said: “One of the things that is overlooked when we look at philanthropy and fundraising is that sport is not really part of the things that people will automatically think about.

“Less than one per cent of the funds that we raise in the Community Foundation goes to sport. The values that sport brings need to be amplified more, so that corporates… see the need to support sport. I think that link needs to be stronger so that we get not just more corporate sponsors, but also they can come in for longer periods of time.”

While national agency Sport Singapore provides funding to netball, corporates can also do their part, she added.

She said: “If we play our cards correctly, we can get corporates to come in and hopefully support them, to see the wider purpose of sport and bring the nation together.”

She also hopes the association can be proactive in looking for financial support, adding: “We must work more strategically with governing bodies on educating corporates on the importance of really supporting sport.”

The former netball player also made references to the recent Women’s World Cup for football, noting the “ability for a game that focuses on women in the sport to bring global attention”.

She said: “I want that kind of trajectory of the limelight going to women’s sport. I think that is a trend that will continue, and I hope that netball will be part of that trend.”

Meanwhile, Tan was satisfied that she has achieved the three objectives she had set out to do when she came on board – to improve quality of play, build a fan base and create an ecosystem which involves coaches and players.

The 57-year-old added: “As much as I do feel sad about having to step down, but at the same time, leadership renewal is very important.

“I think Trina will help to galvanise the team together, and bring a lot of new perspectives and quality to the association.”

Join us in making an impact on Singapore sports scene! Reach out to us for more information.

Source: The Straits Times © SPH Media Limited. Permission required for reproduction

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The competition was organised by City Harvest Community Services Association and received support from FUN! Fund, a Community Impact Fund jointly established by the Community Foundation of Singapore and the Agency for Integrated Care, with the aim of addressing social isolation among the elderly.

Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Communications and Information & Ministry of National Development Mr Tan Kiat How attended the event. He encouraged the elderly to stay physically and mentally well, as well as urging them to participate in community activities and enjoy their golden years together.

Learn more about FUN! Fund at https://www.cf.org.sg/fun-fund/.

 

The programme provides the children with a non-threatening platform to connect with peers and have positive conversations. In addition, it exposes them to different people who can assist to broaden their perspectives.

L.S., a volunteer with the Reading Odyssey programme @ Spooner Road

中心“常胜将军”胡锦盛:比赛限时反应要快

现年92岁的胡锦盛是最年长的参赛者。自2017年退休后,他几乎每天都到活跃乐龄中心报到,从此爱上了玩拉密,每次可玩上三个小时,在中心是“常胜将军”。

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社区基金会让善款发挥更大爱

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portrait of CFS CEO Catherine Loh

随着出生率不断下降和人口老龄化,慈善事业下来可更专注在老人方面。

新加坡社区基金会(The Community Foundation of Singapore,简称CFS)总裁罗佩仪告诉《联合早报》,政府虽然负责照顾老人的基本需求,但公众可协助提升老人的生活素质,维护他们尊严,让他们在暮年,可以过得更有意义和活跃。

“在教育方面,除了孩童和青少年,受日新月异的科技影响、必须重新受训的成人学生,也应该获得额外支援。”

罗佩仪说,CFS有13年管理基金的经验,致力于确保有高水平的透明度和治理,好让捐款者有信心,知道他们的基金能协助和满足社会现有和未来的变更需求。

她指出,CFS与个人捐款者和慈善机构合作,加强各种慈善事业。

“到CFS的个人、家庭和企业,都希望能支持新加坡的慈善事业,发挥影响力。我们能协助捐款者通过一个有组织和战略性的形式,达到他们的慈善目标。”

过去13年来,捐献者的基金支持性质和规模不一的慈善机构,包括医疗和福利项目,以及教育学府等。

她坦言,一些人虽然知道CFS,但CFS也意识到需要更多信息,协助个人作出知情决定。

为了提高人们的认识,CFS积极向律师和金融专员和顾问介绍“捐献者指示基金”(Donor Advised Funds,简称DAF),让他们考虑将DAF当成客户规划慈善事业的工具之一。

她说,像律师和金融顾问这类提供咨询服务的人,可以为准备捐款的客户提供选项,包括直接捐助特定慈善机构,或通过DAF支持有需要的社区。

“我们因此希望专业咨询顾问与客户谈论财富规划时,也能把慈善列为其中的项目。”罗佩仪说,去年冠病疫情期间,国人鼎力支持慈善,包括不幸者、教育、健康医疗等项目。”

她以因应疫情推出的Sayang Sayang Fund为例说,有超过5185人和企业捐出超过900万元,受益者有13万6000人左右。

“国人慷慨解囊,真的鼓舞人心。作为立场中立、获公益机构(IPC)资格的慈善机构,CFS致力于加强不同社群的生活素质。”

去年4月至7月,全国志愿服务与慈善中心(NVPC)和CFS通过调查公司Toluna展开的调查显示,每10人中有六人认同人人都可以作出遗赠。

她指出,除了全国慈善遗产捐赠(legacy giving)计划,以及CFS本身的“伟大捐赠”(A Greater Gift)运动,CFS专注于提高遗赠的意识,以及捐献慈善机构的价值。

她说,CFS下来将推动捐献的各种方法,并鼓励人们多谈论遗赠和慈善事业,“不论是在餐桌或办公室”。

另外,2021年是“欢庆新加坡女性年”(Year of Celebrating SG Women),推动性别平等与促进女性发展。

罗佩说,CFS将侧重表扬参与慈善事业的女性,不论是捐款者、决策者、董事成员和义工。

以已故总统纳丹的名字命名的“纳丹教育提升基金”今年成立10周年,至今累积逾1000万元资金。这个捐赠基金已发放超过370万元,通过助学金、奖学金,以及各项经济援助计划,支持工艺教育局和高等教育学府的贫困学生顺利升学。

前总统纳丹是在2011年同新加坡社区基金会合作成立这个基金。纳丹同年卸任总统,2016年逝世,享年92岁。

纳丹教育提升基金属于“捐献者指示基金”(DAF),由CFS负责管理。该基金开放让公众捐款。纳丹生前委任一个拨款咨询委员会,负责就基金可支持的项目提供建议。这些年来,委员会的成员不时更新。

纳丹教育提升基金拨款咨询委员会主席陈育宠受询时说,前总统纳丹乐善不倦,他的一生体现出慷慨助人、关怀,以及奉献的精神。“纳丹出身贫寒家境,向来体恤和关怀社会上的弱势群体。”

陈育宠指出,纳丹生前深信教育对促进社会平等扮演重要角色,能赋予弱势家庭的孩子改善自己和家人生活的机会。

基金起初援助的项目包括四个自助团体的教育援助计划,为印度人发展协会、华社自助理事会、回教社会发展理事会,以及欧亚人协会的受益学生提供援助。多年下来,基金也支持包括工艺教育局、南洋理工学院、共和理工学院,以及新跃社科大学、新加坡国立大学和南洋理工大学等学府。

基金去年就为工教局拨款超过40万元,支持的项目包括面向弱势学生的经济援助计划,通过每月发放津贴,减轻这些学生的交通及生活费负担。

至于跃大,基金在2019年拨款为该大学设立“纳丹教育津贴”(S R Nathan Study Grant),给修读部分时间课程的跃大生提供经济援助。这些学生一般先完成工教院和理工院课程后才报读跃大,升学道路较为曲折。

陈育宠说,社会各阶层人士深受纳丹的启发,不少人慷慨解囊捐钱给纳丹教育提升基金。“我们希望纳丹教育提升基金可作为规划遗产捐赠的一个典范。”

已故家庭科医生林文忠生前时常免费为贫困病人看诊。为纪念他乐善好施的精神,家人从他的遗产拨款2400万元设立慈善基金会,援助年长及末期病人,也资助癌症研究。

林文忠是一名敬业乐业的家庭科医生。他在70多岁时被诊断患上前列腺癌,坚持行医至80岁才退休。林文忠晚年笃信天主教。他于2002年逝世,享年84岁。

新加坡社区基金会受询时说,林文忠生前多年的行医经验,以及他晚年患病的经历,促使他生前非常希望能援助弱势年长者及泌尿科疾病患者。

据林文忠的女儿林春娘透露,她的祖父生前也患前列腺疾病,父亲当年对祖父的病情爱莫能助,为此感到懊恼,当父亲患病后,更希望尽一己之力,推展泌尿科癌症方面的研究,以造福癌症患者。

林文忠两个女儿林春娘和林素真按照他的遗愿,于2018年咨询CFS,以父亲的名义设立基金,支持父亲生前关心的慈善和医疗研究项目。林文忠医生基金会也是“捐献者指示基金”,由CFS负责管理。基金会并不开放让公众捐款。

CFS指出,林春娘和林素真对父亲希望这个基金能发挥怎么样的社会影响力有清楚的概念,CFS提供专业咨询协助她们设立基金会,并建议基金会可资助的项目。


新加坡国立大学医院的“林文忠医生泌尿科癌症研究”是其中一个受益的项目。林文忠医生基金会捐赠700万元资助这个项目进行临床试验研究,以提升泌尿科癌症患者的护理及医疗水平。

经营三家疗养院的天主教福利协会(Catholic Welfare Services)获基金会捐赠800万元,作为提升其疗养院设施和运作的经费,让院内年长住户受惠。

此外,基金会也捐赠800万元资助雅西西慈怀病院(Assisi Hospice),帮助该病院拥有16个床位的圣迈克病房减轻提供住院护理方面的开销,让有需要的末期病患获得慈怀护理。

信用:联合早报©新加坡报业控股有限公司。复制需要许可

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Opinion

4 Critical Educational Gaps for Disadvantaged Children & Youth in Singapore

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While abilities and talents are distributed equally across the population, access to educational resources is often not. Children from low-income families are the ones who pay the price. Without the right educational opportunities, they underperform in school and end up with lower-paying jobs. Studies show that students from low-income families are more than four times as likely to be low performers than their affluent peers. (OECD, 2016) Without intervention, this cycle of income inequality will persist.

The growing special needs community is also in need of our urgent attention. One key area that we highlight is the need for integration with mainstream students. There needs to be greater awareness about creating better school and work opportunities for this community while preparing them to function independently as adults.

In this article, we highlight critical educational gaps for disadvantaged and vulnerable children and ways to level the playing field and improve their opportunities for social mobility.

#1 Funding for Early Education

The pre-school landscape presents over 1,900 childcare centres and kindergartens. They offer a wide-ranging fee structure that can range from a few dollars to over S$2,000 a month, depending on whether they are full or half-day programmes and with or without subsidies. 

During these early childhood years, pre-school education provides the foundation for children. It helps them develop the confidence and social skills to get them ready for formal education. However, low-income families may struggle even with subsidised fees. 

Children from families that can set aside additional resources for pre-school education have more opportunities to strengthen their social and behavioural skills than those from disadvantaged backgrounds. As the child is placed into a learning environment earlier in pre-school, they are weaned into the academic lifestyle earlier, which also aids their performance in formal education. Studies show that social-economically advantaged children in Singapore outperformed disadvantaged students in reading by 104 points. (PISA, 2018

While pre-school education is not compulsory, it is critical to ensure that all children get off the starting block of formal school without too much difficulty. Therefore, parents must understand the importance of pre-school education and available financial assistance schemes. It ensures that the children have access to critical education in their formative years.

#2 Developing Life Skills

A child’s home environment has a powerful impact on school readiness. Parents or caregivers in low-income homes tend to be busy working or absent; they have little time to support their children’s learning needs. Children often do not receive the stimulation they need and do not learn the social skills required to prepare them for school.

The resulting lower self-confidence, lower motivation, and reduced resilience pose further obstacles in their struggle for social mobility.

Activities such as team sports, drama, and public speaking encourage interaction. They are great for boosting confidence, self-esteem, and socio-emotional skills. We need funding for programmes to provide alternative avenues for these children to develop these essential skills.

#3 Rising Cost of Higher Education

Education has not been spared, with consumer prices increasing steadily over the years. 

Singapore’s average annual education inflation rate from 2001 to 2021 was 2.87%. Higher education, specifically polytechnic diploma fees, rose 20% between 2015 and 2022. The average cost of a 3-year polytechnic education is close to $37,000. (MOE 2022)

Although statistics show that a polytechnic graduate earns 1.4 times more than an ITE graduate, many students will not choose to study at a polytechnic. One reason for this is due to the high school fees. Those who do may drop out of school for the same reason. 

Even with existing public financial aid programmes, students from financially disadvantaged backgrounds still struggle to pay their school and living expenses. More financial assistance from the private sector, in the form of pocket money, bursaries, or scholarships, will help these students bolster the shortfall in higher education expenses.

#4 Lack of Integration

For the special needs community, a critical piece that is sorely lacking is inclusivity. Special education schools are separate from mainstream schools in Singapore, and students do not intermingle.  However, research shows that special needs children benefit from interacting with peers with stronger academic abilities. This benefit goes both ways, as children who have interacted with people with special needs from young develop greater empathy and respect for diversity. (Association for Psychological Science, 2014).

This is a strong push for special education and mainstream schools to work together to create opportunities for meaningful interaction between their students. Children with disabilities are given a chance to develop their potential and thrive in the same environment as their peers.

Funding is required to beef up resources, training and partnerships to facilitate exchange among educators from different backgrounds. We could achieve greater harmonisation across mainstream primary schools, special education, pre-schools and early intervention sectors. An inclusive educational environment would offer a curriculum that caters to different needs, paces of learning as well as provide the facilities and resources required.

Other than school, these children tend to spend less time in public spaces or in recreational activities. Sometimes it is due to practical reasons like access difficulties, which is a great pity as they miss out on opportunities to connect to the larger community. Funding can be directed towards the intentional design of public spaces, sports, and cultural activities so that those with special needs can feel that they are truly a part of society.

Do more with your giving—how CFS can help

To enable every child to shine to their fullest potential and better support the disadvantaged, CFS can help you make a positive impact by aligning your donations with the needs of this community. 

CFS is a cause-neutral organisation that enables us to support grant-making to a wide range of charitable areas that match the donors’ interests and uplift diverse communities in Singapore. These charitable areas include children, youth, education, families, seniors, persons with disabilities, sports, health, animal welfare, environment to arts and heritage.

We partner with charities that focus on clearly identified problem areas or social gaps which might be under-supported. Charities must also demonstrate measurable outcomes and good stewardship of funds.

A simple and effective way to contribute to a variety of causes in Singapore is by setting up a Donor-Advised Fund (DAF). A DAF can be set up by an individual, a beneficiary of a will, a trust, or a family office. CFS will handle all fund administration and leverage our unparalleled insight into Singapore’s charitable landscape to provide philanthropy advice that ensures your giving is targeted, accountable and impactful. CFS strives to ensure that every grant which goes out creates positive change.

As a donor, you will save on legal expenses and enjoy upfront tax deductions at the prevailing rate on eligible donations. Donors will also receive regular statements tracking incoming donations to the DAF and outgoing disbursements to charities. CFS has an established track record when it comes to setting up DAFs and our DAF payout rates outperformed the entire US DAF industry by 12% and their community foundations by two times.

If you would like to begin your giving journey with CFS, get in touch with us.

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Law firm Rajah & Tann donates $225k to ST School Pocket Money Fund and Dementia Singapore

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(From left) Dementia Singapore’s chief executive Jason Foo, ST Singapore editor Zakir Hussain, Community Foundation of Singapore chief executive Catherine Loh, R&T managing partner Patrick Ang and R&T Foundation chairperson Rebecca Chew.

Law firm Rajah & Tann (R&T) has contributed $225,000 to The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund (STSPMF).

The donation was part of the firm’s 45th anniversary celebration on Thursday (May 5) at the Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore, where it also gave $225,000 to charity Dementia Singapore.

Mr Zakir Hussain, a board trustee of STSPMF and ST’s Singapore editor, and Dementia Singapore chief executive Jason Foo jointly received a cheque from R&T managing partner Patrick Ang and Rajah & Tann Foundation chairman Rebecca Chew.

Mr Ang said: “The spirit of caring and giving back to society is part of R&T’s DNA, which we inherited from our founders T. T. Rajah and Tann Wee Tiong.”

A commemorative book about Rajah & Tann titled Duty of Care+ was also unveiled during the celebration on Thursday.

Written by former ST senior writer Cheong Suk-Wai, the book traces the law firm’s growth from its beginnings as a two-man partnership to the regional firm it is today.

“The Rajah & Tann story is essentially about how a group of talented lawyers came together to build a top-rated indigenous Singapore law firm, while holding fast to the principle of excellence with heart in the way they practised law and cared for others,” said Mr Ang.

Among Rajah & Tann’s notable alumni are T.T. Rajah’s son V. K. Rajah, who was Attorney-General from 2014 to 2017 and a former Judge of Appeal; Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon; former Attorney-General and current Judge of Appeal Justice Steven Chong; and current Judge of the Appellate Division Justice Quentin Loh.

STSPMF general manager Tan Bee Heong said the fund gave out almost $9 million to help more than 12,000 beneficiaries last year.

“This donation will help us continue our work in providing thousands of students from low-income families with school pocket money for meals and other schooling needs,” she added.

The STSPMF was started in 2000 as a community project by ST to help children from low-income families.

It has given out nearly $90 million to date and has helped more than 200,000 beneficiaries.

This article was originally published in The Straits Times hereSource: The Straits Times © SPH Media Limited. Permission required for reproduction.

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