Speech for APB Foundation Scholarship Award ceremony 2013
15 Jan 2013
Speech by Ms Indranee Rajah, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Law and Ministry of Education, at the Asia Pacific Breweries Foundation Scholarship for People with Disabilities Award Presentation Ceremony on Tuesday, 15 January 2013, at 10.30am at Ballroom 1, Amara Hotel
Ms Chia Yong Yong,
President of SPD
Mr Roland Pirmez,
Chairman, Advisory Committee, and
Member, Board of Trustees, APB Foundation
Ladies and gentlemen
I am happy to join you today to celebrate the success of some extraordinary young Singaporeans. They have beaten the odds and overcome many challenges to be here today. I am very proud of these young people. I am sure their families and friends are just as proud of their achievement.
I am encouraged to see corporations like Asia Pacific Breweries share MOE’s vision of developing our children to their fullest potential irrespective of disabilities. MOE is committed to providing appropriate education for all children. Hence, many primary and secondary schools have full handicapped facilities to support the needs of students with physical disabilities. MOE also gives grants to various Voluntary Welfare Organisations (VWOs) to provide school-based itinerant support to students with physical and sensory disabilities.
Even in the Institutions of Higher Learning, there are provisions to help students with physical impairment. For example, all ITE Colleges are wheelchair-friendly, with easy access to facilities via ramps, and, handicapped-friendly lifts. The newer Republic Polytechnic and Singapore Management University are barrier-free, while older polytechnics and universities are improving barrier-free access with refurbishments and directional signage. NTU has also upgraded its facilities to introduce interconnectivity between buildings while NUS has made 80 per cent of its older buildings barrier-free.
With support from community service providers such as the Society for the Physically Disabled, or SPD, and contributions of corporations such as the Asia Pacific Breweries Foundation, we have made good progress in making education inclusive for all our young people. SPD has played a major role in leveling the playing field for persons with disabilities. SPD helps them and Action for AIDS (AFA). He has even gone to Vietnam for community work under the Youth Expedition Project (YEP). He has risen above his disability to pursue his goals and contribute to society. This is truly commendable and he is an inspiration for all of us.
I would also like to take this opportunity to commend the APB Foundation for nearly two decades of active philanthropic work, and their service to society through various humanitarian initiatives. In particular, I would like to highlight the APB Foundation Scholarship for Persons with Disabilities. The Foundation has pioneered the cause in Singapore to look at scholarship for persons with disabilities such as the physically-challenged or those who are hearing, visually or speech-impaired. It has been awarding this atypical scholarship since 2004 and recognises well-rounded students who not only excel academically, but have also given back to the community through volunteer work or participation in charitable causes.
I was also delighted to learn that five scholarships will be awarded this year, instead of the usual three. I understand that the foundation was so impressed with the shortlisted candidates that they decided to award the scholarship to all of them.
This scholarship programme is a very meaningful one. It empowers students with disabilities by allowing them to pursue their education which promotes independence and self-reliance. The scholarship also frees them from financial worries with regard to their education and gives them and their families peace of mind.
Achieving our goal of building a truly inclusive society requires the active participation of all stakeholders to help integrate students with disabilities into community life. Hence, I am encouraged to see the community coming together to help students with disabilities overcome their challenges and pursue their dreams. This collaboration between the APB Foundation and SPD demonstrates how partners can leverage on their respective areas of skill and expertise to create greater social impact and help others overcome adversity.
It leaves me now to congratulate again George, Amanda, Hua Han, Jacqueline and Wei Jian on winning this year’s APB Foundation Scholarship for Persons with Disabilities. Your determination to succeed will inspire many other students to strive for success and pursue their dreams. Your selfless attitude to give back to the community through volunteering is exemplary and we commend you for your achievements and contributions.