Address by Ms Indranee Thurai Rajah, Senior Minister of State for Law and Finance and President, SINDA at the Indian Community Bursary Awards Ceremony and Back To School Festival 2015 on 22 November 2015 at the Umar Pulavar Tamil Language Centre
Dear Friends, Parents and Students,
A very good morning to all of you!
- Today’s event is testament to the strong partnership between community organisations and their efforts in rallying together for the good of the society. The Back to School Festival [BTSF] and the Indian Community Bursary Awards Ceremony are annual affairs that provide financial aid to students from the Singapore Indian community who face challenging circumstances.
- I am heartened that 1,200 students will benefit from today’s event, through bursaries and largely the $180 BTSF vouchers to purchase essentials for the coming school year. These bursaries and school kits form part of the $12 million that SINDA invests each year on education-related initiatives.
- This event would not have been possible without close collaboration and coordination. I wish to commend the organising partners, SINDA, TRC and SIET for their dedicated efforts to ensure that every Indian child is able to reach its full potential without being hindered by their family’s financial background.
- I am also thankful to the various partners, supporting organisations and sponsors who have contributed towards today’s event. Your involvement has benefited our children in many ways and has enabled them to enjoy a fun-filled day with their family members here today.
- Parents, I hope that this support that your children receive from the community inspires them to aim for greater heights. They are the future of Singapore, and we want to ensure that we provide them with all the necessary resources, so that they can pursue their aspirations and fulfil their potential.
- Your children must maximise their educational endeavours. It is important that they study well and make full use of all available educational avenues. The world is filled with exciting opportunities and challenges; if they are to take these on with confidence and use them to their advantage, it is vital that they have a very strong foundation in education.
- There is also no longer the notion that there is only a single path to success. Instead, there exist multiple routes, each with its unique opportunities; and your children, as students, are increasingly empowered to choose the path that best aligns to their passions, strengths, skills and abilities.
- While a good education will secure a good future and fulfilling jobs, we need to ensure these continue. We have all witnessed success stories of individuals, who have in the face of all odds, driven themselves to succeed.
- Such stories inspire us and push us to do the very same; but we must know however, that such successes are not simply happenstance. It is the result of having a great deal of passion in one’s own future, as well as the understanding that one needs to stay relevant and competitive, in the face of an ever-changing landscape.
- Often, we see a number of unemployed individuals at SINDA seeking help; we realise that while many of them are in desperate situation and are in need of a job urgently, they lack the necessary skillsets and abilities to qualify for skilled jobs. While there has always been a demand for theoretical knowledge and experience, employers nowadays are also especially looking out for those who hold the appropriate skills and expertise.
- In acknowledgement of this, and to ensure that all Singaporeans are provided with the opportunities to develop to their fullest potential throughout life, government schemes such as SkillsFuture exist. You may have heard about this nationwide initiative that encourages and subsidises adult Singaporeans in their education and reskilling efforts. If not, we will go into this topic later on in the programme.
- However, I wish to impress upon all of you that such national schemes cannot be the sole promise of financial stability and economic progress. Instead, we as adults, must have the personal responsibility, discipline and desire towards advancement. Only then, can such initiatives bear fruits for us.
- Many of us, as parents, are accustomed to encouraging and motivating our children to study. But how many of us actually bother upgrading our skills or attending courses once we start work? Education must be a lifelong journey—a journey that everyone in the family, regardless of age, must undertake. It is never too late to start, nor is it ever the right time to stop studying.
Highlight Profile – Priya Darshini
- Sometimes we are presented with difficult circumstances in life. One such individual is Priya Darshini. 30-year-old Priya is a single mother with 2 young children. As the sole breadwinner of the family, she was forced to be in whichever job that came her way—she has worked as a security officer; she has also cared for children at a childcare centre. Many places would not hire her, as she did not have sufficient nor relevant skills to the job scope.
- She was referred to Project Athena—SINDA’s single mothers’ programme—when she approached a Family Service Centre for financial assistance. Through SINDA and the Workforce Development Agency or WDA, Priya underwent a fully subsidised basic childcare course. She completed this successfully and started earning a higher pay at her place of employment.
- Priya is now undertaking an advanced certificate course to further upgrade her skills. She is very resolved to become financially independent and has gained enough confidence to handle her personal issues and financial matters on her own.
- Priya is a classic example of many who are financially challenges and end up in a vicious cycle of poverty. When we do not have enough money, many of life’s other functions cannot run optimally. However, as we have seen in the case of Priya, through sheer willpower, hard work and the passion to develop oneself, anyone can progress in life and break out of poverty.
- You will be hearing about help schemes later in the programme, as well as through the many booths that have been set up by assistance agencies at today’s event. I hope that you will approach these agencies, learn more about schemes that you can benefit from, and enrol yourself in them.
- At the end of the day, it is not only about ourselves. We have the personal responsibility to ensure that our children are also well taken care of, that they are fully provided for. Our young ones need to aim high and we must be able to give them our fullest support as they reach out towards their dreams.
- I hope all of us—parents, students, youths and senior citizens—will remember the community’s progress depends on the progress of each individual. Let us stand together, support one another and work towards our goals. Let us not make excuses for the lack of our progress. By working in unison, we can tackle any challenge that lies ahead, improve our lives and the lives of those around us, and soar as a community to greater heights.