SINGAPORE - Providing early and targeted support has made a difference to students, particularly those from lower-income families, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Saturday (Jan 6).
Speaking at an awards ceremony in Townsville Primary School, he added that about half of Singapore's students in the bottom socio-economic quarter find themselves in the top quarter of performance internationally, after accounting for background.
He was referring to a recent report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, which considers such students resilient, outperforming what is predicted by their backgrounds.
The support provided includes bursaries for those who need financial assistance, and Edusave scholarships, said Mr Lee, who is also MP for Ang Mo Kio GRC.
"These bursaries give the families and the students peace of mind while the students can concentrate, focus, study, and complete their schooling," he added.
Saturday's ceremony is one of two to be held over the weekend, to recognise more than 1,000 students in total through the annual Teck Ghee CCC (Citizens' Consultative Committee) Bursary Awards and Ministry of Education Edusave Awards.
"The Government works hard but you don't do this alone. We need parents, we need the community to come together to support the students as well," said Mr Lee, who noted that close to $200,000 was raised for the Teck Ghee bursary awards this year.
Primary 4 pupil Lim Zhi Yi, nine, received the CCC Bursary Award and Edusave Character Award on Saturday.
Her father fell critically ill before her school examinations last year, but the Teck Ghee Primary School pupil did not let the difficult period impact her studies, said her mother Madam Feng Biao Mei.
"It's her second time getting a bursary. I hope she can continue working hard," said the 45-year-old, who has been clocking longer hours at a fast food outlet to make ends meet since her husband died.
The sole breadwinner said she earns less than $1,000 a month, while raising her two children.
Asked how she felt about getting the award again, Zhi Yi replied: "Happy."