SINGAPORE: A fund that will support about 2,000 students each year to develop young leaders in Singapore was launched on Tuesday (May 30) to commemorate the 100th anniversary of former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew’s birth.
Called the Lee Kuan Yew Centennial Fund, it was established with donations from private and people sectors and has collected over S$82 million (US$60.6m) to date.
The late Mr Lee was born on Sep 16, 1923. He died at the age of 91 in 2015.
Through the activities marking the 100th anniversary of Mr Lee’s birth, Singapore can reflect on Mr Lee’s values and principles and that of its founding generation of leaders, said Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong in his opening address at the launch.
“One enduring lesson is the importance of developing our young people, and helping them to realise their full potential, to be the best versions of yourselves. Because at the end of the day, our people are the only resource that Singapore has,” said Mr Wong.
“That’s why even in our early years, when we struggled to make ends meet, Mr Lee made investing in our people a top priority. He would regularly engage young people, encourage them to get involved in society and contribute to nation-building.”
The fund started as a ground-up initiative by business leaders to invest in and support the development of Singapore youth to “become visionary leaders with the imagination and determination to shape Singapore’s future as an exceptional nation”, said the Ministry of Education (MOE) in a press release.
The government will support this fund by providing a one-off dollar-for-dollar matching of donations for up to S$50 million (US$37m), said Mr Wong.
The fund will be managed under MOE’s Education Fund. It will be used to support the Singapore Young Leaders Programme, which was also launched by Mr Wong on Tuesday, and the Lee Kuan Yew Post-Graduate Scholarship for Urban Greenery and Ecology.
On top of that, it will also help expand the Lee Kuan Yew Scholarship Awards, and provide additional support for up to 1,000 Institute of Technical Education and polytechnic students from disadvantaged backgrounds who “demonstrate resilience and potential”, said MOE in the press release.
The Singapore Young Leaders Programme will allow about 1,000 student leaders across the institutes of higher learning to participate in leadership modules held throughout the year, the press release read.
These include institution-based programmes such as the National University of Singapore’s Kent Ridge Ministerial Forum, the National Youth Council’s leaders course and engagement sessions with industry and government representatives.