Published: 19 December 2020
Mr Chng Hwee Hong, Chairman of ISCOS,
Board of Trustees,
Mr Daniel Teo, Chairman of ISCOS Board of Directors,
Mr Alex Yeo, Chairman of ISCOS ReGen Fund Management Board,
Ladies and gentlemen.
1. A very good morning to each and every one of you.
2. I’m very happy to see families together and all your happy faces on a very nice Saturday morning. What makes me very happy also, is to see the children looking forward to the session today. If you look at your screens, especially for those of you who have switched on your camera, I think this gives a very nice picture about what we are doing today. It is about being together and supporting one another, especially during COVID-19. It is also about moving forward together, despite the challenges that we face in our lives.
3. I am very honoured to join you today to recognise and celebrate the achievements of this year’s ISCOS Bursary Award recipients.
The Challenging Landscape Due to COVID-19
4. For those of you who attended the Bursary Awards ceremony at Bishan Community Club in 2018, you may recall that I was there to present the Awards. I was very, very touched and I really enjoyed meeting some of you that day. It was a meaningful morning for me, and I felt then, that ISCOS, as well as all the partners and sponsors, are doing very good work in demonstrating how we can care for one another.
5. But, as with many other things this year, the format of this year’s Awards ceremony is quite different from previous years. Many of us are at home, while I myself am at one of the event venues where I’m going to attend an event later – I arrived here early, so that I can support your event as well as the next one, because to me, your event is very important for me. I want to acknowledge the good work of ISCOS, and I want to acknowledge all of you for having that resilience and that far-sighted view of your life, and having that deep feeling about how important family is and in wanting to continue to journey with your family.
6. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to change the way we work, learn, and socialise. For the students here, it must have been challenging to adapt to the new norms of staying indoors, learning from home, and not seeing your teachers and friends. Parents, too, have had to adapt, and learn to support their children in new ways.
7. But these challenges can be overcome – the students and parents present today are testament to that. You have shown that through hard work, grit, and determination, success is possible, even in the face of adversity.
8. To all award recipients and their parents – a hearty and well-deserved congratulations!
ISCOS Bursary Awards
9. This is the 10th year of the ISCOS Bursary Awards. The Bursary Awards was launched in 2011, under the Fairy Godparent Programme, or FGP.
10. The FGP supports children and families through workshops, home improvement projects and sponsorships such as today’s Bursary Awards. These efforts help children bring out the best in themselves, rooted in the belief that every child should have the opportunity to succeed, regardless of their circumstances. In fact, this event also shows and illustrates that we want the best for every one of you, be it in your educational journey, or in the development of you as an individual, and at today’s event, we see a very strong sense and aspect of caring and providing support for one another.
11. Over the last 10 years, the Bursary Awards have given out more than half a million dollars to more than 1,800 students from primary, secondary and tertiary schools.
12. This year, another more than 500 students will benefit from the bursaries. This is the highest number in the 10-year history of the Awards. Thank you, ISCOS, for being kind, for working hard, and thank you to all the sponsors.
13. I would like to highlight one of today’s award recipients – Ryna. Let me share some aspects about what she has gone through. In addition to all the other challenges that this year has brought to Ryna, Ryna had to face another significant challenge – her PSLE exams. Ryna had to prepare for this significant milestone in a year unlike any other, learning through virtual lessons and being away from her friends and teachers during the Circuit Breaker. Despite these challenges, Ryna’s diligence and perseverance have paid off, and she did well to qualify for the Express stream next year.
14. Congratulations and well done Ryna, and I want to congratulate all of you – the award recipients and your parents. Join me to give a big round of applause!
15. Today’s Awards would not have been possible without the support of FGP’s community partners – a community of allies who staunchly believe in the transformative power of education, both inside and outside the classroom.
16. We would like to thank:
(i) The Lee Foundation, who have supported the Bursary Awards since the very beginning;
(ii) Sheng Siong Group, for their generous contributions over the years;
(iii) Catholic High School Class of ’69 and ’71, for sponsoring the Outstanding Achievement and Good Progress Awards; and
(iv) Lastly, and I thank a very important group of people – the volunteers, for making this event a day to remember for the recipients and their families.
17. I’m sure you will not forget this event. When I was a young boy like many of you here, I also used to receive bursary awards. I came from a low-income family, and we also faced our own set of challenges. But, as a young boy and until today, I feel that the community support is and was very important. It helped to steer me in my life and provided that impetus and motivation for me, my siblings and my parents to continue with our lives, achieve what we can as much as possible and in turn, it also developed caring and sharing values in all of us.
18. So, thank you for your steadfast support. To all our sponsors, thank you to all of you and I hope that the support that you’ve given will inspire others to step up and contribute in their own ways.
19. Achieving success from difficult beginnings is deeply rooted in our collective history. It is central to the Singapore story, a story which continues through the success of today’s Award recipients.
20. In Singapore, many possibilities or “miracles” – as some people call it, or in the eyes of many other nations – are possible, when you see generations able to progress, one after another. It also doesn’t matter who you are, what you are, or where you come from, because we care for one another. We want to provide every single opportunity to each and every one of you, regardless of your circumstances, and this event is testament to one aspect of our lives and our values in Singapore. I want to urge ISCOS and our sponsors to continue this good work and expand your caring outreach, so that regardless of the circumstances that our people, our friends face, they know that there are people who can help to remove barriers and make their life journeys easier, smoother and better. So, I want to urge ISCOS to continue the good work and congratulations to Mr Chng Hwee Hong, Mr Daniel Teo, Mr Alex Yeo and many more, who have really, really brought ISCOS to a very high level of contributions to our people here in Singapore.
21. And may all of you serve as an inspiration to those around you and in time to come, may you pay it forward to help others in need. Now, this is very important, so that when you grow older and are successful – and I pray that all of you will have your own successes, chart the highest you can – and when you are there, don’t forget those around you, like how those around us today are caring for us and helping us to journey in our lives. I want to congratulate all the recipients once again, as well as your families, and to the parents out there, thank you for making this journey with your families and for your resilience, sacrifice and patience.
22. I know your journey is not easy. Nevertheless, I want to share with you, that we are together in this. I have been in MHA for the past few months, and I can see, I can feel, what some of your families are going through. It is not easy. I’ve been talking to some of your family members and community partners about how we can provide that peace of mind to families – due to incarceration or due to some challenges in their lives – and how we can continue to work together and provide that support. I promise you that the Government, together with the community partners, will continue to make things better for you. We want you to also continue playing your part, to be that torchbearer, regardless of the circumstances, and we will be supporting you to continue your journey so that you can reach and go higher and further, and the torch will light up very brightly – not only for you, but for your children and your future generations. So, this is a journey by all of us, not only you, and we are looking after you as best as we can.
23. So, once again, congratulations! Before I end my speech, as we are in the Season’s Greetings period, I would like to wish every one of you a happy New Year and also – for those of you who are celebrating Christmas – a Merry Christmas! COVID-19 has been quite tough, but as we approach the end of the year, I hope you can chill out and have a good time with your family and friends.
24. Thank you.