Good afternoon to all of you. I am delighted to be here this afternoon to present the Eurasian Community Fund (ECF) Education Awards. Let me first congratulate all 302 award recipients for your achievements. Your good results are a result of your diligence and determination to excel. It is also a result of your families, your teachers, and others giving you the support that you need.
EDUCATION – A KEY PILLAR
Education is a key pillar. It is one of the most important things that we can give our children. The Eurasian Association, I am pleased to see, plays an essential role in giving our young people the encouragement and confidence to persevere in their educational journey despite challenges they may meet.
The responsibility of education does not lie with schools or families alone. The active partnerships between parents, schools and the community are critical for the growth and development of our children. Here in Singapore, we adopt a collaborative model for the educational endeavour. The community complements our schools’ efforts in ensuring that our children receive holistic education and are given opportunities to realize their potential.
Just to illustrate what I mean, for those students who do not perform well, very often they come from difficult family backgrounds or circumstances. You can see from this fact alone, how important family support, encouragement and family’s attitude to education are, and how much they impact a child’s growth and educational development. That is why we have a collaborative model. Because schools will impart the content and a holistic education, but also important are children’s wellbeing and a sense of total support behind children that they need from their families as well as values which are taught both at homes as well as in schools.
I am, therefore heartened that self-help groups such as the Eurasian Association play an active role in supporting education. Since its inception in 1996, the Eurasian Association has focused its efforts to help students attain their full potential through education and skills training and played an active role in supporting needy students to give them the upliftment in education and life.
Particularly, the ECF funds have been used to support an estimate of over 3,300 primary, secondary and tertiary level students. They reward students who have emerged in the top 25% of their cohort and those who achieve outstanding results at their level of education. These awards uplift the educational standards of students and ensure that they are not deprived of the opportunity to have a meaningful education.
GIVING BACK TO SOCIETY
We have among us outstanding young men and women who have benefited from the ECF funds and who are not only excelling academically, but have forged new paths and inspire the rest by generously contributing back to the community.
One such remarkable student is Chloe Roberts. At age 14, she has already started to juggle her time between school, CCAs and volunteer work. Chloe started to actively volunteer with the EA in 2013. She has represented the Eurasian community in various events, including the Inter Racial Inter Religious (IRIR) Harmony Nite, Orange Ribbon celebrations and Chingay Parade 2014. Her enthusiasm in contributing to the society is not just limited to the EA. She also volunteered to perform for the annual Heritage Fest organised by the National Heritage Board.
The next student that I would like to highlight is Dean Hunt, 21, who commenced at NUS, Bachelor of Business Administration in August this year. Dean has been active in SG Cares Volunteer Activities since 2011, and was privileged to mentor students from low-income families at the Teck Ghee Youth Centre weekly, as part of the Evergreen Bees Mentoring Programme. Aside from his work with SG Cares, he has also been an active member of the Punggol Coral Residents’ Committee, and was recently appointed as an Executive Member. I understand that Dean’s current project is in setting up a youth chapter in Punggol Coral RC to increase youth participation in neighbourhood activities. Dean will be awarded the Oscar George da Silva University Scholarship for his outstanding achievements.
These two young individuals have distinguished themselves beyond their academic studies, giving their best in community work. We want to see more young men and women like them—with the confidence and willingness to do something different and go beyond the ordinary, in order to contribute to society. I am sure that many of you here have drawn inspiration from them, and aspire to do the same, defining your own areas of personal excellence. I urge you to give of your best, not because you will win awards but because you believe in what you do and enjoy what you do. I am certain that in the process you will pick up traits that will enable you to thrive in this increasingly globalised, complex and dynamic world.
I am also pleased to see more and more youth coming forward to learn about their culture and heritage. It is heartening that they have the inquisitive desire to explore their roots and feel a sense of belonging and responsibility to the community.
I offer my heartiest congratulations to all the students and their families. To all awardees, no matter what you choose to do in the future, always put in the hard work, and strive for excellence. Also remember the opportunities that you have been given today, and one day, remember to give back.