From the day he started Secondary 1 in 2012, Poh Jia Qi has received help to pay for things such as school fees, textbooks and school meals.
The Teck Whye Secondary School student, who has been on the Ministry of Education's (MOE) Financial Assistance Scheme, also gets help from the Opportunity Fund. This is one other source for schools to tap to provide further assistance to needy students by subsidising school-based enrichment programmes.
"I am fortunate to be able to receive similar opportunities as my peers," said Jia Qi, 16, who lives in a four-room Housing Board flat in Teck Whye with his parents and two school-going brothers, aged 19 and 14.
"I don't have to worry about my financial situation and can focus on my studies," he added.
His father works as a cleaning supervisor while his mother is a coffee shop assistant. They take home a total income of $2,500 monthly.
Both parents welcomed the enhancements in subsidies to needy students. Jia Qi's mother, Madam Wong Meow Foon, 48, said: "Children should not be denied an education just because they cannot afford it.
"I am thankful that my children are able to receive more help. But they must work hard and make full use of the opportunities given to them."
Last year, Jia Qi began coaching his friends in mathematics through the school's peer tutoring programme.
He was one of the students praised by Education Minister Heng Swee Keat for paying it forward at a young age.
Said Jia Qi: "I like helping my classmates, especially with maths problems that they have trouble with. I would like to give back as much as I can."
This article was first published on Mar 7, 2015.
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