NTUC First Campus to loan iPads to help kids bridge digital divide

Pre-school operator NTUC First Campus will loan iPads to help more than 2,000 low-income families over three years

NTUC First Campus (NFC) will loan iPads to more than 2,000 low-income families and their children attending its pre-schools over the next three years, to help bridge the digital divide.

Under a new scheme called Digital Kampung Programme, the devices will be leased on a short-term basis of up to three months each time.

Families with monthly household incomes of $4,500 or less, or monthly per capita incomes of $1,125 or less, are eligible.

Their children should be in Kindergarten 1 or Kindergarten 2 in one of NFC's My First Skool centres. They need to have hit at least 50 per cent attendance in the month prior to qualify.

In a media release last week, the pre-school operator said the iPads will come with educational materials and mobile applications to support children's learning and encourage high-quality screen time, as well as resources for parents to communicate with the pre-school online.

Parents will also receive a starter kit that contains a guide on how to use the device, along with tips on screen time and cyber wellness.

In addition, NFC will provide SIM cards for low-income families without Wi-Fi access so that they can access the Internet.

The programme is fully supported by a donation from FairPrice Foundation.

The charity arm of the supermarket chain announced last Wednesday that it gave $250,000 to NFC's Bright Horizons Fund.

This sum will support the Digital Kampung Programme from next year to 2023.

Mrs Phoon Chew Ping, NFC's deputy chief executive officer (development), said: "With Covid-19 disrupting the education landscape, NFC has leveraged technology to support children's learning.

"We recognise that some of our low- income families and children risk falling behind as they lack the necessary digital devices and know-how."

Madam Susilawati Thamrin, whose youngest daughter Alesha Nur Shareefa Haminorrashid, five, attends a My First Skool centre in Toa Payoh, will benefit from the programme next year.

Madam Susilawati, 44, a fast-food worker who has six children aged five to 21, said: "The pictures in the starter kit helped me to learn how to use the iPad."

Her husband works as a food delivery rider and their monthly household income is $1,400.

Having the iPad at home meant Alesha could reinforce certain concepts she learnt in school.

"She enjoys using educational apps on the iPad to learn spelling and counting," said Madam Susilawati.