An award recognising the abilities and achievements of special education students was unveiled at the annual Special Awards Presentation Ceremony yesterday.
The Lee Kuan Yew Exemplary Student Award honours students in government-funded special education (Sped) schools who rise above their disabilities.
The 20 Sped schools in Singapore, such as Pathlight School for the autistic and Singapore School for the Deaf, will be able to nominate at least one student per year for the award, starting next year.
The award is funded by donations made in the name of former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew after his death last year.
Acting Minister for Education (Schools) Ng Chee Meng, the guest of honour at the ceremony at Catholic Junior College, presented awards to 109 students.
He sees the new award as a step forward, saying: "It will recognise students with special needs who are role models of learning, dedication, perseverance and courage in areas such as academic, sports, arts, the vocational domain and community service."
Awards given out yesterday included the Lee Hsien Loong Award for Special Achievement, an endowment donated by the Prime Minister to recognise one outstanding student each from NorthLight School and Assumption Pathway School (APS). These are schools which take in students who failed the Primary School Leaving Examination.
Former APS student Ng Thian Ping, 17, who received the award, said a strong sense of empathy prompted him to help to pick up litter and unreturned plates at school.
"It was sad seeing students not doing anything to clean up the mess in the canteen, so I decided to take action and help the cleaners," he said.
Mr Ng said: "Thian Ping showed how an individual action can make members of our community feel included and appreciated."
The teen is currently studying at the Institute of Technical Education College West, and plans to pursue engineering at a polytechnic in the future.