SINGAPORE- Growing up the youngest of four siblings, Braydon Tan Jun Kai, 12, often found it difficult to buy supplies for school projects as his parents struggled to make ends meet.
Despite his family's financial predicament, though, Braydon persevered, determined to score well enough to enter his "dream" school.
"Since I was in Primary 1, I knew about Victoria Secondary School when my brother attended a talk there. I saw people wearing uniforms with the badge and I envied my brother, joining a school that was so big and amazing. It was a dream for me," he said.
With that goal in mind, Braydon worked hard, achieving 247 points for the Primary School Leaving Examination last year and securing a place at his "dream" school.
On Tuesday (June 25), Braydon was one of 56 beneficiaries of an academic award from the Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund (STSPMF). Samsung Electronics Singapore has partnered with STSPMF for the third year in a row for the award, with a contribution of $20,000.
The students who did well in last year's PSLE received cash awards ranging from $200 to $600, depending on their scores.
Braydon, who received $500, attended the award ceremony at Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) News Centre with his parents. His mother, Ms Yang Shao Xia, 47, who works as a kindergarten teacher, said in Mandarin: "I feel really grateful to have received the funds. It has helped us a lot. Now after receiving this cash award, he can spend without feeling so guilty. He also knows how to save money for the family."
Ms Sarah Chua, vice-president of IT and Mobile, Samsung Electronics Singapore, and Mr Warren Fernandez, chairman of STSPMF, who is editor of The Straits Times, presented the awards.
Mr Fernandez, who is also editor-in-chief of Singapore Press Holdings’ English, Malay and Tamil Media Group, said: "For us at the Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund, the primary focus is to make sure they don't go to school hungry. So we give them the support so that they have money to buy whatever necessities to keep them going in school. So if they do well in school, we are even happier."
"It's not meant to be a scholastic award, but we are celebrating the fact that they were able to overcome their difficulties and done well in school and that we are very happy for them and their family," he added.
STSPMF was started in 2000 as a community project by The Straits Times. The fund provides pocket money to children from low-income families to help them with school-related expenses. Since its launch, the STSPMF has helped over 160,000 children and youth in need and disbursed over $60 million.