Tan Kah Kee Foundation turns 40, announces S$60,000 scholarship for ITE graduates

  • The Tan Kah Kee Foundation celebrated its 40th anniversary on 8 January as members and guests of the Foundation commemorated the ideals of  philanthropist Mr Tan Kah Kee.
  • A scholarship worth S$60,000 was launched for ITE graduates to pursue further education in support of the hands-on heart work initiative.
  • TheHomeGround Asia speaks to the foundation’s Vice-Chairman, Eugene Tan to learn more about the scholarship and support of the initiative.
Minister for Education Chan Chun Sing was the guest of honour at the 40th anniversary gala dinner for the Tan Kah Kee foundation as it unveiled a new scholarship for ITE graduates. (Photo source: TheHomeGround Asia)
Minister for Education Chan Chun Sing was the guest of honour at the 40th anniversary gala dinner for the Tan Kah Kee foundation as it unveiled a new scholarship for ITE graduates. (Photo source: TheHomeGround Asia)

As guests and members of the Tan Kah Kee Foundation gathered to celebrate the ideals of Mr Tan Kah Kee during its 40th anniversary dinner on 8 January, the foundation announced the launch of a new scholarship to support further education for Institute of Technical Education (ITE) graduates.

Ten scholarships worth S$6,000 each will be awarded each year in May, alongside the various scholarships the foundation supports.

“The idea is a simple one, to promote lifelong learning and to encourage those pursuing careers in hands-on and heart work, which our society regards as important but do not yet accord enough recognition and support to them,” said Vice-chairman of the foundation and Associate Professor of Law at the Singapore Management University (SMU) Eugene Tan.

Prof Tan was referring to the point raised by DPM Lawrence Wong at the Singapore Economic Policy Forum 2022 on 18 October where he said that Singapore places too much of a premium on intellectual “head” work and does not sufficiently value “hands-on” technical jobs or “heart” work.

“The Foundation believes that we can all do more for those who are from the ITE and to promote the dignity of work,” Prof Tan added.

Hands on heart work

The Tan Kah Kee Foundation was set up in 1982 to foster the spirit of entrepreneurship and dedication to education displayed by the late philanthropist and businessman Mr Tan Kah Kee.

The foundation offers a variety of scholarships for pursuing full-time PhD or Master’s degrees such as the Tan Kah Kee postgraduate scholarship and the Tan Ean Kiam postgraduate scholarship in the Humanities.

Its newest scholarship has no restrictions on the field of study and is open to individuals looking for formal vocational training or apprenticeship programmes.

Also, the scholarship is open to ITE graduates who choose to start working before pursuing further education.

In keeping with the foundation’s other scholarships and the spirit of Mr Tan Kah Kee, applicants are expected to have a record of contribution to the community.

Prof Tan added that the foundation welcomes donations and partnerships, particularly from small and medium enterprises, to help expand the number of scholarships awarded each year and help develop ITE graduates further in a respective area.

While the scholarship has yet to be named, the foundation is working closely with ITE in developing the scholarship and is open to expanding the scholarship to applicants without an ITE background such as ‘O’ and ‘N’ Levels graduates.

Tan Kah Kee Foundation
Guests and members of the Tan Kah Kee Foundation raised over S$1.3 million during the evening as they celebrated the ideals of entrepreneur and education advocated by the late Mr Tan Kah Kee.
(Photo source: TheHomeGround Asia)

Over S$1.3 million of proceeds raised from the dinner on Sunday will also be used to grow the foundation’s flagship activities, including the postgraduate scholarship and Young Inventors’ Awards.

The funds will also help to further improve the Pioneers’ Memorial Hall at 43 Bukit Pasoh Road, to better educate the public about pioneers in the Singapore community, such as Tan Kah Kee and Lee Kong Chian.

“2022 is an exciting and busy year. It has been a demanding period for the committee and staff to get a few  important projects off and running concurrently. Through the hard work and effort of the committee, the foundation was once again granted the IPC status in July 2022…. I am also thankful for the support from all the associations and individuals for helping us achieve our fundraising goal,” said Chairman of Tan Kah Kee Foundation Chua Seng Chong in his speech.

Ministry of Education Chan Chun Sing was the guest of honour for the gala dinner where he subsequently shared his confidence in the Foundation on his Facebook page.

“Mr Tan exemplified the definition of success – that it is not about how well we do for ourselves, but leaving behind a brighter future for generations to come. That we are defined not by our achievements, but contributions. And the more successful we are, the more we should extend a hand to those who need help,” he wrote.

He added, “I am confident the Tan Kah Kee Foundation will continue to live up to his spirit of public service. Congratulations and my best wishes to them for more good years!”

RELATED: These Radical Career Switchers Embody Values of Lifelong Learning

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