The world’s population is expected to increase by almost one billion people in the next twelve years. This will have major consequences for the demographics, size and allocation of resources in the long term. Developed countries face an aging population while developing countries have a young population filled with big dreams and aspirations. A bigger population will need bigger and better healthcare facilities, robust and quality education and a good supply of jobs to meet their future employment needs.
Education is the key to social mobility and economic independence. The Mincer Function, named after the famous labour economist Jacob Mincer, states that an individual’s earnings is a function of years of education and years of potential working experience. In many countries, children are unable to receive a formal education because their families cannot afford to pay the school fees or they have to help out at home. The lack of education means that these children are unable to move up the socio-economic ladder and remain in a vicious cycle of poverty.
Here in Singapore, we are fortunate to have nearly 100% literacy rate and most children have at least a secondary education. Widely recognised as one of the best in the world, Singapore schools deliver a comprehensive and balanced education and students often excel in mathematics and science. Despite this, there is still a lot that needs to be done to help the underprivileged to realise their true potential, whether it is in the arts, science, or other areas such as sports, creative design and entrepreneurship.
Through the Stephen Riady Group of Foundations, I hope that we can make a difference and improve the lives of individuals from underprivileged, disadvantaged and impoverished backgrounds through Education, Empowerment and Engagement. We believe that everyone should have the opportunity to develop their talent to the fullest potential regardless of their age, gender or socioeconomic background. Education provides the means to empower individuals to pursue their dreams, secure good jobs and engage with the less fortunate around them. Beyond giving, I hope that the Foundation will be a reminder to future generations to keep giving back to the less fortunate. I believe that collectively, we can work together and achieve much more for society.