More than 10,600 beneficiaries of Yayasan Mendaki’s tertiary tuition fee subsidies (TTFS) were given $43 million to pursue further studies last year – an all-time high.

The self-help group had spent $42 million under this scheme to support 10,000 beneficiaries in 2018.

The scheme subsidises fees for eligible Malay students pursuing their first diploma or degree at local government tertiary institutions.

Mendaki released its 2019 report yesterday, showing that it disbursed $3.7 million in study loans and spent $32.3 million on community outreach. In total, it supported more than 91,000 beneficiaries.

Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs and Mendaki chairman Masagos Zulkifli said in a virtual press conference yesterday that the group recorded a surplus of $12.6 million last year.

However, it had to dip into its reserves for the first time this year to spend $1.9 million, mainly on laptops for students during the circuit breaker period and to help Institute of Technical Education students whose family income was affected by Covid-19.

Mr Masagos, who is also Minister for Social and Family Development, said even more TTFS funds would be distributed this year, as applications have reopened and now include those whose family income might have been affected owing to Covid-19.

“We have not seen a surge yet. There are already new applications, but we foresee that more TTFS will be disbursed next year too, and we are budgeting for this,” said Mr Masagos.

The minister added that Mendaki will maintain its focus and continue to encourage children in the community to attend early childhood education.

Senior Minister of State for Manpower and Defence Zaqy Mohamad, who is the group’s deputy chairman, said at the press conference that another priority for Mendaki is supporting community members whose jobs were affected by Covid-19 disruptions.

Mendaki has launched a dedicated hotline for job seekers and is working with them via an app called CariKerja. It will continue to share information on available jobs with the community, said Mr Zaqy.

It is also working with government agencies to link job seekers – including fresh graduates – with companies looking to fill vacancies, as well as with training opportunities that could help them reskill to eventually gain employment.

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