‘Education is the key to the future of child. It will empower him to be of service to his family and society. We offer bursaries, and not scholarships, because we view that the poor will need a greater help from us. Our resources are limited, and a priority has to be made,’ – Father Siew
The bursary scheme is open to Catholic students studying in Singapore schools, regardless of whether they are Singaporeans or foreigners
SINGAPORE – Twenty-four-year-old Terence (not his real name) does not come from an affluent family. His father, the sole breadwinner of the family of four, works as a supervisor for a cleaning company, and earns about $1,600 to $1,800 a month. His mother does not work due to health problems. Terence also has a younger brother who attends a special needs school. Terence is unable to commit to a full-time job as his school hours are irregular and his timetable rather packed. He could only do odd jobs, like distributing flyers, to earn some additional pocket money. The family lives in a three-room flat.
Terence, a Catholic, is currently pursuing a diploma at the Singapore Institute of Management. The diploma programme is 15 months long and costs about $10,000, which he admits is quite hard on his parents’ pockets.
Private education is the only route to higher education for Terence as he did not do well in his GCE ‘O’ Level Examinations. Fortunately for Terence, Carlo Catholic Society has provided some relief for him and his family in the form of a $2,000 bursary for his school fees.
Terence told CatholicNews: “[The bursary] helps take the load off my parents.”
Carlo Catholic Society was established in 1995 to spread the Gospel through the media especially to the Mandarin-speaking. It was named Carlo Catholic Society in honour of Bishop Carlo M. J. Van Melckebek who was concerned with the evangelisation and proclamation of the Gospel amongst the Mandarin-speaking community worldwide.
Carlo Catholic Society runs a bookshop located in Queens Street, next to the Church of Sts. Peter and Paul. It also oversees the publication of Hai Sing Pao, a Chinese Catholic newspaper.
While the society has been quietly offering bursaries on a one-to-one request for assistance basis, Father Henry Siew, the Director of Carlo Catholic Society said that the society is set up as a charitable organisation, and the decision to officially implement the bursary award scheme “is an extension of our charities, in the education aspect”.
And it is students like Terence that the bursary scheme hopes to help. The income for Terence’s family is below the median monthly household income. According to a February article in The Straits Times, the median monthly household income from work is $4,850 among all Singapore households, and $3,190 for those living in three-room flats.
The scheme will provide needy Catholic students with financial assistance and encourage them to continue their education and motivate them to strive for greater achievements to benefit themselves and the community.
“Education is the key to the future of a child,” Father Siew said. “It will empower him to be of service to his family and society. We offer bursaries, and not scholarships, because we view that the poor will need a greater help from us. Our resources are limited, and a priority has to be made.”
Father Siew explained that the society hopes to recover its operating costs from the small income it generates. Half of whatever extra monies are used for charitable works that involve books and the media apostolate, or for funding the support of evangelisation purposes such as printing evangelisation pamphlets.
Joseph Chen, a second year fashion design student at Lasalle College of the Arts is also one of the recipients of the bursary award. Joseph, who is from China, has received a $3,000 bursary from Carlo Catholic Society.
Speaking to CatholicNews in Mandarin, Joseph said that he is grateful to the assistance that Carlo Catholic Society had given him.
Although there are no strings attached to the bursary, Joseph hopes to do something for the Church in return, such as becoming a bridge between the Catholic Church in Singapore and Mainland China Catholics who are in Singapore.
Terence also hopes to contribute to the Church through donations after he finishes his higher education and starts work. Terence is working diligently to do well in his studies and so far is doing quite well in his diploma course.
Father Siew said: “We hope the recipients will have a sense of gratitude, and will in turn serve the larger community in future. The virtue has to be cultivated by the schools they attend.”
By Darren Boon
At a glance
• Applicant may be Singaporean or foreigner, but must be a Catholic
• Applicant must be a full-time student attending a Government School, Government Aided School, Autonomous School, Independent School, Institute of Technical Education (ITE), Junior College (JC) or Centralised Institute (CI) or a Tertiary Institution in Singapore. The gross monthly household per capita income (total gross monthly household income divided by total number of household members) of the applicant’s family does not exceed $450, or the gross monthly household income does not exceed $2000
• Applicant must possess good conduct, regular attendance and obtain satisfactory academic results
• Applicant must not be receiving any other scholarship or bursary (excluding Edusave Scholarship and Merit Bursary)
• Eligibility for application does not guarantee award of the bursary.
• Application is open from Nov 1 to Dec 1 for Primary School students and from Oct 25 to Nov 22 for Secondary Two to Five students