A helping hand

ABOUT 2,700 people attended two concurrent events held by the Singapore Indian Development Association (SINDA) on Nov 22 at the Umar Pulavar Tamil Language Centre.

At its annual Back To School Festival, SINDA handed out school kits, each comprising $180 worth of vouchers, to 1,200 students from low-income families.

SINDA also held the Indian Community Bursary Awards Ceremony, where 570 students, who come from families with per capita income of less than $650, received bursaries. Jointly organised by the Tamils Representative Council and the Singapore Indian Education Trust, $445,000 worth of bursaries were given out at the ceremony this year to primary, secondary, junior college/ITE, polytechnic and university students.

Together, such bursaries and school kits are part of the $12 million that SINDA invests in education-related initiatives each year. The festival incorporated a panel session on SkillsFuture, where experts discussed the initiative in greater detail and told the audience how they could benefit from it. There were also workshops, skits and exhibitions.

Said the guest of honour, Senior Minister of State for Finance and Law Indranee Rajah: "The Back to School Festival and the Indian Community Bursary Awards Ceremony are annual events that provide financial aid to students from the Singapore Indian community who face challenging circumstances.

"To all the students here, I hope that this support you receive from the community inspires you to aim for greater heights. You are the future of Singapore, and we want to ensure that we provide you with all the necessary resources, so that you can fulfil your potential, pursue your aspirations and in the future contribute to society and to Singapore."

In her speech, Ms Indranee, who is also the president of SINDA, touched on SkillsFuture and the importance of education, "not just for children but also for parents and working adults".

She highlighted the example of a lifelong learner Priya Darshini. The 30-year-old single mother with two young children had problems finding a job as she did not have sufficient nor relevant skills.

"She was referred to Project Athena - SINDA's single mothers' programme - when she approached a Family Service Centre for financial assistance. Through SINDA and the Workforce Development Agency, Priya underwent a fully subsidised basic childcare course. She completed this successfully and started earning a higher pay at her place of employment," said Ms Indranee.

She said Ms Darshini is now taking an advanced certificate course to further upgrade her skills.

Added Ms Indranee: "Priya is a great example of how someone can overcome financial challenges and upgrade for a better future.

Priya succeeded because of her attitude, sheer willpower, hard work and desire to develop oneself. With such a mindset, anyone can progress in life and break out of poverty."

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