Speech by Ms Indranee Rajah, Second Minister for Education, at Sembcorp Marine School Book Assistance Grant (SchoolBAG) Cheque Presentation Ceremony

Published Date: 11 November 2019 12:00 AM

News Speeches

1. Good afternoon to everyone. It's a great pleasure and privilege to attend today's ceremony for Sembcorp Marine's School Book Assistance Grant or SchoolBAG.

2. I would also like to thank the Ahmad Ibrahim Primary School for hosting today's event.

School Book Assistance Grant (Schoolbag)

3. SchoolBAG started off in 2001 as Sembcorp Marine's way of providing financial support to low-income families with school-going children studying in the surrounding communities of Sembcorp Marine's Tanjong Kling and Admiralty yards. With SchoolBAG, students receive a one-off grant, which they could use to help manage their school expenses and enrichment programme fees.

4. Since then, Sembcorp has expanded the SchoolBAG programme to reach out to even more students in need, and has given out almost $4.4 million to over 22,000 students since 2001. Today, we celebrate with the 75 students who will be receiving the SchoolBAG grant.

5. The SchoolBAG goes a long way in helping students to focus on their education without being constrained by their financial circumstances. Most importantly, these grants give them the reassurance that they will continue to receive the support that they need, as they work towards their goals and achieve their fullest potential in life.

Honouring Our Grant Recipients

6. Today, we honour our grant recipients, who embody great resilience and determination, and have not let their personal circumstances stop them from pursuing excellence in their chosen fields, or giving back to their communities.

7. Take for example, one of our grant recipients, Kathleen Hope Deligero. Kathleen's family faces financial difficulties, as her father suffered a stroke in 2016, and has not been able to return to work. Instead, her mother works part-time to support the family.

8. Despite the challenging situation at home, Kathleen remains focused and she gives her best in her studies. She has also been serving as the netball captain at Yishun Secondary School. This is testament not only to her leadership qualities, but also to her maturity in balancing her studies and CCA commitments effectively.

9. Another grant recipient who has shown great resilience despite challenging circumstances, is Seri Nursyakirah Bte Mohamad Noorisham, from Jurong West Secondary School. Seri Nursyakirah suffers from lupus, which causes her to be sick and fatigued easily. Despite this, Seri Nursyakirah continues to study hard and remains diligent in her school work.

10. Being second oldest in the family, she also takes up the responsibility to supervise her four younger siblings while her parents work. In spite of her health and her commitments at home, Seri Nursyakirah still finds the time to give back to society in whatever way she can. During the National Day Celebrations this year, she actively volunteered to wrap gifts for the elderly in her community.

11. These two young ladies have demonstrated a maturity beyond their years, to be able to look beyond their personal circumstances, and remain motivated to do their best, to achieve their fullest potential in life. At the same time, they are conscious of their responsibility to give back, as they lead lives in service of their families, as well as to their communities and the people around them.

12. We applaud their resolve and can-do spirit, and we wish them all the best, as they continue on their education journey. So keep it up, Kathleen and Seri Nursyakirah!

A Society of Opportunities for All

13. We want to be a society where everyone can progress together, regardless of their starting point or family background. We also want to make sure that every Singaporean child feels that they have a place in our society, and has the confidence to seize the opportunities offered to them, and to make the best of them.

14. To this end, we are creating greater flexibility in our education system to better recognise and develop students' diverse strengths and interests throughout their education journey. The Government is also investing significant resources in preschool education, to give our children the best possible start in life, as well as financial assistance schemes, to assist disadvantaged students and their families at every stage of education.

15. Beyond the Government's efforts alone, we will need to work closely with our corporate and community partners, to think of ways that we can help students from disadvantaged backgrounds better bridge the gap. Every little bit counts in helping these students, in giving them that leg-up, as they strive towards achieving their hopes and dreams. This is our collective responsibility, as a society, to ensure that education remains an uplifting force for all in Singapore.

16. As part of the inter-agency UPLIFT taskforce that I lead, we take a whole-of-community approach to strengthen support for students from disadvantaged families, working with different partners to build an uplifting village, to help especially those who are under-performing, and enable them too to meet their full potential. Such ground-up initiatives like SchoolBAG will be an important part of the ecosystem we are trying to create, to better support these children and their families.

17. I am encouraged by SchoolBAG's steadfast commitment to supporting children from disadvantaged families with their school needs. Thank you Sembcorp Marine for your generosity and contribution to our students through SchoolBAG!


18. Once again, congratulations to all our grant recipients today! I hope that you will continue to work hard and to make the most of the opportunities that come your way. I wish all of you the best in your future endeavours.

19. Thank you.

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