630 students under self-help groups' tuition scheme recognised for academic performance and resilience

(Clockwise from top left) Pei Jun Yu, Amira Akhtar, Sameer Ahamed s/o Sadiq Batcha and Hans Gerhard van Huizen. ST PHOTO: SYAMIL SAPARI

SINGAPORE - When she was studying for the Primary School Leaving Examination last year, Amira Akhtar was also helping her younger brother with his homework as part of her responsibilities as the eldest of three children.

Now a Secondary 1 student at the National Junior College, where she is enrolled in a six-year Integrated Programme, Amira, 13, remembered finding it hard to concentrate on schoolwork in the family's three-room flat as her baby brother would often cry during her online lessons.

She also had to share a computer with her brother who was in Primary 5, so it was a rush for her to log into Zoom for her classes after his ended.

She was one of 630 students honoured at the 18th Joint Tuition Awards Ceremony held at the School of the Arts Concert Hall on Saturday (Aug 28).

The ceremony was hosted by the four self-help groups - the Chinese Development Assistance Council, the Eurasian Association, the Singapore Indian Development Association (Sinda) and Yayasan Mendaki.

Given the Covid-19 safe management measures, only the 15 top overall award recipients were invited to attend the ceremony in person. The other 615 will receive their book vouchers and certificates at designated locations.

The students were among those attending the Collaborative Tuition Programme organised by the four self-help groups. It helps low-income families access affordable tuition. The income criteria to receive fully subsidised tuition differ across the self-help groups.

At the awards ceremony on Saturday, Minister for Education Chan Chun Sing commended the award winners for their hard work, noting how it has been a challenging year because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

"So long as you are born a Singaporean and you try hard, we will do our best to let you have the opportunities to fulfil your potential," he said.

For some students, the programme has not only helped them excel academically but also make new friends.

Nanyang Polytechnic student Pei Jun Yu, 17, who was in Evergreen Secondary School last year, made friends at Admiralty Secondary School, one of the locations at which the tuition programme was held.

Like Amira, he was among the students present at the ceremony.

Jun Yu told The Straits Times: "All my friends (in the Collaborative Tuition Programme) supported me through last year. We would turn on the video cam and do practice papers to keep each other accountable and play video games afterwards to de-stress."

In recognition of their academic achievements and resilience, the students received a total of $72,100 in book vouchers.

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