Mendaki recognises 496 young people for excellence in academic, non-academic fields

Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat applauded the "grit and resilience" of this year's 496 award recipients. PHOTO: BERITA HARIAN

SINGAPORE - Around 500 Muslim students and other young people received awards for their achievements in both academic and non-academic areas from self-help group Yayasan Mendaki on Saturday (Oct 2).

The guest of honour, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat, applauded the "grit and resilience" of this year's 496 award recipients, saying that their achievements were all the more significant given the challenges the Covid-19 pandemic has posed.

He also encouraged the awardees to pay it forward as future role models and mentors when they succeed.

"They can also start new projects in areas they are passionate about to contribute back to the community... In this way, we refresh and strengthen the 'gotong royong' spirit for a new era," he added.

"Gotong royong" is a Malay expression for a community that works together to help itself and others.

He cited the example of this year's Mendaki valedictorian, Ms Reena Chandini, who graduated with a Bachelor of Social Sciences with honours in political science from the National University of Singapore this year. Ms Reena, 23, is an active volunteer, helping mentor differently-abled individuals in her work with Special Olympics Singapore.

Mr Heng also pointed out that the Malay/Muslim community has made great strides in education.

He cited Census 2020 figures, which indicated that 53 per cent of Malay youths obtained university degrees or diplomas, an increase from 35 per cent a decade ago.

"With rising education levels, more Malays are now holding PMET (professional, manager, executive and technician) jobs, translating into higher incomes over time," he said.

However, Mr Heng said "the work is never done, and we must continue to nurture each new generation to achieve even greater heights".

(From left) Madam Zuraidah Abdullah, Social and Family Development Minister Masagos Zulkifli, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat and Senior Minister of State for Defence and Manpower Zaqy Mohamad. PHOTO: BERITA HARIAN

The ceremony was held as a hybrid event this year, with around 30 attendees at Wisma Mendaki, while other guests and award winners' family members tuned in via a live stream on Mendaki's YouTube channel.

The event also marked the opening of this year's Raikan Ilmu festival, a month-long learning festival for various age groups in the Malay/Muslim community that was launched in 2019.

As part of the campaign, there will be reading activities and handicrafts for children, while job seekers can look forward to workshops about growth industries and how to develop new skills.

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