SPD Education Programme 2015 – Speech by Ms Chia Yong Yong

Mr Hawazi Daipi
Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Education and Ministry of Manpower

Mr Vivek Kamra
President and Chief Executive Officer, NatSteel Holdings Pte Ltd

Distinguished guests

Ladies and gentlemen

Boys and girls

Introduction

Good morning. Thank you for joining us this morning for the SPD Education Programme Awards Presentation Ceremony.

“Success is not measured by what you accomplish, but by the opposition you have encountered, and the courage with which you have maintained the struggle against overwhelming odds.” This is a quote from Dr. Orison Swett Marden, an American inspirational author who wrote on success in life and how to achieve it.

While the acknowledgement of one’s achievements is important, the journey to success is of equal importance, if not more. The SPD Education Programme Awards Presentation Ceremony marks not only the achievements of our students, it also celebrates their courage and resilience by recognising efforts put in by the students both academically and beyond.

SPD Education Programme
The SPD Education Programme was started in 1985 to provide financial assistance to students with physical disabilities and those whose parents are physically disabled.

Over the years, the programme has expanded beyond just providing financial assistance through the bursary awards to also include an award for pursuits outside the academic arena, new learning opportunities through outings, camps, workshops and courses, as well as counselling and other care services to help develop youths with disabilities academically and beyond. More importantly, the awards serve as a form of recognition for the role models among these youths to inspire others to do the same, if not more. Over time, the programme has evolved to become one that supports children with physical disabilities in their physical, intellectual as well as psychosocial development in a more holistic manner.

Corporate Citizenship
As we look forward to what Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had described, “a home with hope and with a heart”, with greater emphasis on the democracy of deeds in the society, the People, Private, and Public sectors should continue to co-operate and collaborate for greater synergies. Corporate citizenship, or what is commonly known as corporate social responsibility, looks to create some positive impact on the society, beyond the interests of the corporation. This extends not only to expertise, but also the care from the private sector to the social service sector, weaving together a close-knit society and strengthening social fabric.

As such, at SPD, we look into encouraging corporate citizenry among friends from the private sector to help create sustainable social services for Singapore.

NatSteel, a multinational corporation and an avid supporter of the SPD Education Programme, has been an exemplary corporate citizen. A staunch supporter of equal opportunities in education, NatSteel has been supporting students with disabilities and students whose parents have disabilities in their educational endeavors through the SPD Education Programme since 2009. On behalf of SPD, our beneficiaries and their families, I would like to thank NatSteel for its support and firm partnership over the years.

The cross-sector collaboration between SPD and NatSteel is but one aspect of the award’s significance. The students and their hard work form another crucial aspect of what makes the awards special. Without their perseverance, they would not have made it this far.

Power of Youth
Toh Wee Yang is one such individual who has risen above life’s adversities. A bursary award recipient this year, Wee Yang was unexpectedly diagnosed with muscular dystrophy at a tender age of nine. Muscle sores and aches make it difficult for people with muscular dystrophy to perform activities of daily living. The disorder also weakens and eats away at muscles such that it renders a person permanently dependent on mobility aids to move around.

Since the diagnosis, Wee Yang has lost control of his lower limbs within a matter of one and a half years. He had also been through a major operation to delay the muscle deterioration.

Despite this, the soft-spoken 16-year-old braves through adversity, and remain a sensible and understanding boy who frequently encourages his mother when the going gets tough. Wee Yang attends Seng Kang Secondary School regularly like any other non-disabled youth despite the challenges he faces while getting out of his home. Most recently, Wee Yang was even awarded the Edusave Good Progress Award as well as The Most Resilient Student from his school in 2014. These awards bear testimony to Wee Yang’s admirable mental strength and his sheer determination to do well.

Lee Chee Yong is another bursary recipient this year. He was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, a condition that causes physical disability in human development as it affects the brain and nervous system. Also soft-spoken, Chee Yong does not give in to his condition and allow himself to be affected. Instead, the 15-year-old maintains a positive disposition and seizes every chance for greater self-improvement. An active participant in his school as well as SPD’s enrichment events, Chee Yong is also an avid debater in his school. He has thrived academically and socially despite his condition, and is an epitome of a well-integrated student in mainstream education.

The bursaries that we give out today also provide the much-needed financial relief to families like Wee Yang’s and Chee Yong’s who are supported by a single breadwinner. With this financial support, the positive impact of the bursaries would go a long way to help Wee Yang, Chee Yong, and the other bursary recipients to continue to excel academically.

I hope that the strength and indomitable spirits of these two young men, and that of the three SPD Aspiration Award recipients – Diroy, Gregory and Yu Xiang – who show us that we can shine in any space where we wholeheartedly apply ourselves, would be an inspiration to all and spur those who are still schooling to continue to push the envelope and do well.

Conclusion
In its 30th year, the SPD Education Programme’s successful continuation certainly did not happen in a vacuum. It is the strong belief that partners like NatSteel have in our youths that has enabled this programme to go on. Since 2009, NatSteel’s unwavering support has helped countless families lighten their financial burden and our youth to get closer to their academic and aspirational achievements.

To all the youth present today, my heartiest congratulations to each and every one of you. May your resilience bring you to greater heights. I believe with these energies you possess as youths, the sky is the limit.

Thank you.