Growing up in a poor family, the late former President of Singapore Mr S R Nathan knew what it is like to struggle with school and making ends meet.
In his teens, he dropped out of school, ran away from home and tried to eke out a living amidst troubled times. While working, he continued his education and was eventually awarded a bursary that enabled him to graduate with a Diploma in Social Studies from then University of Malaya.
In 2011 when Mr Nathan published his memoir ‘An Unexpected Journey: Path to the Presidency,’ he established the S R Nathan Education Upliftment Fund to help students by providing them with the financial assistance to keep them in school and enable them to pursue their tertiary education. Mr Nathan firmly believed that education is an important social leveler which provides students from disadvantaged backgrounds an opportunity to seek a better life for themselves and their families.
“Those of you who have read my memoir will recall – my youth was a very troubled one. Left to despair over my fate, I realised that life was not always fair. Coming face to face with all sorts of hardships, it was the unexpected help from some unknown person that my life turned for the better,” said Mr Nathan.
Managed by the Community Foundation of Singapore, the fund supports programmes like the Institute of Technical Education (ITE)’s Monthly Financial Assistance Scheme which provides needy students with allowances for transport and meals to lessen their financial burden and allow them to focus on their studies. The fund also awards bursaries and scholarships to students from local polytechnics and universities.
To date, the fund has supported more than 1,400 ITE, polytechnic and university students, by providing bursaries, scholarships as well as monthly financial assistance.