PM Lee pumps S$500,000 into endowment fundBy S Ramesh, Channel NewsAsia | Posted: 15 January 2009 1353 hrs
SINGAPORE: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has created two more education awards under an endowment fund which he set up last year.
This brings the total to four awards, with Mr Lee contributing an additional S$500,000 towards this endowment fund.
Mr Lee said Thursday the amount comes from the salary increase of S$1,040,000 he had received last year as a result of the salary adjustments in April 2007.
The Prime Minister said he has donated the rest of the salary increase to a range of community, grassroots, arts and welfare organisations.
In February last year, the Education Ministry announced two awards financed from an endowment fund set up by the Prime Minister. They were the Lee Hsien Loong Award for Special Achievement and the Lee Hsien Loong Award for Innovations in Normal Course.
The awards were to recognise students who had persevered and done well, and schools which have found effective ways to help these students.
One of the two new awards is the Lee Hsien Loong Award for Outstanding Bicultural Students, which will be given out to students in two programmes, one of which is the Regional Studies Programme.
Under it, students take up Malay or Bahasa Indonesia as a third language and learn about Southeast Asian culture and society.
Eugene Lim, a student under the Regional Studies Programme at Raffles Institution, said: "It gives us a better understanding about people of other countries so that when we interact with them, we are aware of the different issues of concern to them."
The coordinator of the Regional Studies Programme at Raffles Institution, Valerie Keh, said: "In the long run, they would be able to appreciate how our neighbouring countries deal with crisis and current events. And the students will not pass judgement so easily, because they know what are the considerations these countries will have."
The other programme benefiting from the award is the Bicultural Studies Programme, which is currently offered in four schools, where students also have an immersion programme in China.
A senior consultant of the Language Elective Programme at Hwa Chong Institution, Lam Yew Cheong, said: "They have an opportunity to stay in China for six months. So they can actually understand and appreciate their culture and in future, they will have more confidence when they go to China."
The next special honour is the Lee Hsien Loong Award for Outstanding All-Round Achievement.
It will recognise students who excel academically and non-academically, and contribute to the community in enterprising ways.
One student each from the junior colleges, ITEs, polytechnics and universities stand to clinch it.
Mr Lee added that the money that he is contributing will enable the endowment to generate enough returns to fund all four awards.
And over the next few years, he intends to make further contributions to build up the endowment.
The Prime Minister stressed that education is the key to success in Singapore as it gives students the opportunity to acquire the skills and knowledge to create better lives for themselves.
Mr Lee said he hopes the awards will encourage students to do their best and excel, and help to foster an inclusive education system that nurtures students of all talents and abilities.