With more Singaporean women dropping out of the workforce after marriage compared with their Japanese or Korean counterparts, making them money smart is crucial. A financial literacy course targeted at women over 40, now run by the Citi-Tsao Foundation, will be extended to all community clubs (CC) in the next three years.

Minister of State for Health Amy Khor announced plans to work towards getting the course, which is currently offered with partners such as religious institutions, voluntary welfare organisations and grassroots organisations, into every CC to benefit more women.

This 20-week financial education programme, offered free, is in its fourth year. Yesterday, 88 women graduated from the course.

Dr Khor, who was at the graduation ceremony, said: 'What we are doing is to get the women to be more literate, have a better understanding of savings, investments, and managing household expenses.'

The move to make these courses more accessible follows a Manpower Ministry labour force report last year.

It shows that fewer women in Singapore are in the workforce compared with their American or British counterparts: Only 51 per cent of Singapore women compared with 56 per cent in the United States and 53 per cent in Britain.

The report also shows that women here are more likely to drop out of the labour force after marriage and childbirth and do not rejoin the workforce, unlike those in countries such as Japan and South Korea.

With their husbands as the main breadwinners, women are vulnerable if the men lose their jobs or fall ill, said Dr Khor, who is also the adviser on a women's council under the People's Association (PA).

The course has modules on investments and entrepreneurship and currently targets women whose family income ranges from $1,500 to $3,500 a month.

Childcare centre principal Connie Lim, 40, who rejoined the workforce after two years, said the class taught her how to wrap a safety net around her three sons, aged two, nine and 11. Her first thought was the need to ink her will - something taught in class too.

She said: 'Things change, which can be quite frightening, so I need to protect my young ones first.'