Social science research council to be set up this year: Tharman

SINGAPORE - A social science research council will be established later this year to facilitate research on the social sciences.

The council will involve academics from local institutions and will also tap the expertise of social science researchers from abroad.

"As we progress and mature as a nation, the social sciences have become increasingly important. We are no longer a developing nation, struggling to survive and with its young population focused on just getting a job and making ends meet," said Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Tharman Shanmugaratnam on Wednesday.

"But with progress and social transformation, comes new challenges. We must develop new ways to sustain a vibrant, fair and resilient society."

He was speaking at a celebration dinner to commemorate the 170th anniversary of the Teochew philanthropic foundation, the Ngee Ann Kongsi.

In commemoration of the anniversary celebrations and Singapore's Golden Jubilee this year, Ngee Ann Kongsi will introduce a post-graduate scholarship for Singaporeans doing masters' degree courses in social sciences, including social work and gerontology courses, at the local universities.

It is the first time the Teochew organisation is providing such scholarships for post-graduate students.

"The Kongsi is committed to responding to the needs of our society and we share the Government's concerns for a rapidly ageing nation," said its honorary treasurer Jamie Teo. "We will contribute towards upgrading the skills of various professions to meet the challenges of an ageing society."

Up to a dozen such scholarships will be made available. Applicants will be nominated by the local universities.

Said Mr Teo: "Through education, our workforce skilled up to meet the exacting demands of different industries, bringing economic growth and prosperity to a nation with no natural resources."

"Moving forward, we intend to build on the strong ties that we have already established with various educational institutions and continue to enrich the lives of Singaporeans."

For the past 50 years, the Ngee Ann Kongsi has contributed over $340 million to education here, through various scholarships and bursaries administered through local tertiary institutions.