by Leong Sze Hian

I refer to the article “No family will be left behind; with some help from CDC and Koufu” (Today, Dec 21).

Helping 2,000 needy students?

It states that:

Over the next two years, some 2,000 needy primary and secondary students will benefit from the fund of about \$235,000, which is made up of Koufu’s donation of \$117,558 – raised by staff as part of its corporate social responsibility efforts – and matched dollar for dollar by the CDC.

This works out to about \$58.75 per needy student per year (\$235,000 divided by 2,000 students), or about 16 cents per day (\$58.75 divided by 365 days).

So, with regard to:

Yesterday, Madam Norhana’s children (5 of them) each received a kit of school essentials such as a new bag, book and vouchers for shoes. They will also get daily lunch allowances of \$1 to \$1.50”, based on the average of 16 cents per day per student calculated above, how many of the 2,000 students get all the items described?

Statistics that are narrated by describing one family, may be quite misleading. Because, clearly, there can’t be many getting the entire list of benefits.

How many helped by how much?

How many of the 2,000 needy students, received daily lunch allowances of \$1 or \$1.50 and for how long? How many received shoes vouchers, etc?

To illustrate why the sums may not seem right – if just 490 needy students get just a daily allowance of \$1 (nobody getting more than \$1 or \$1.50), the entire \$235,000 may already be used up (\$235,000 divided by \$6 times 80 weeks) – no money left for shoes vouchers, books, bags, stationery!

So, what we need is the break-down of how many received what, and how much did it cost?

Help long overdue?

As to “The CDC identified these students through working closely with the schools”, what was the CDC doing to help these 2,000 needy students in the past, or did it only identify them recently, when the \$117,558 donation was available?

How many of these students went hungry, without shoes, stationary, bags, in the previous years?

Since the CDC were given funds to help the needy, why did it not help them in this respect, until now?

GST to help the poor?

When GST was raised from 5 to 7 per cent, it was said that it would fund programmes to help the poor, with an initial estimate of an extra \$1.5 billion GST collections a year.

So, why is it that all the CDCs are doing so much to raise funds from the community and corporate sector?

Can we have an accounting of how the extra GST has been used to help the poor?

Without the answers to the above questions, perhaps what every media report about some new CDC fund raising scheme to help the poor, may only give the perception that they are not doing enough now and in the past.

Unless, CDCs do not get enough money to help the poor, such that only now, perhaps some needy students will not have to go hungry!

And what happens, when the \$235,000 fund runs out in two years' time?

Surely, CDCs have to budget and make a commitment to help the poor on a continuing on-going basis.

Are there any countries in the world that plan, budget, and account for welfare in the unique way which we seem to do?

Finally, if “no family will be left behind”, why are we seeing an increasing frequency of media reports, of families that are apparently only being helped more now?

NTUC Education Grant

NTUC informed a union member that her needy child could not qualify for the NTUC Education Grant, because she had not produced a results slip to show a passing grade.

It is hard enough to be poor, and as the statistics show more likely to not do well in school. So, why further de-moralise the child and his or her parents, by denying a grant which is only a one-time off \$100 assistance. For this year, only 1,074 students received the Education Grant.

How many union member's needy children were denied the grant because of their results?

Perhaps what needy children sorely need is more compassion, instead of motivation by denial -

"The National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) would like to clarify that the main objective of the NTUC GB Education Grant is to motivate members' children who are currently schooling to continue to strive for academic excellence". (Why NTUC requires results slip for education grant)