Engaging some of the recipients of the inaugural Prime Minister's Book Prize, on 29 May 1974, at a reception at the Regional English Language Centre Building. The Prize, which became an annual award for bilingualism, was instituted in 1973, after Mr Lee gave the Ministry of Education the lecture fees he received on an overseas tour.
Educating for the future
Mr Lee recognised the importance of education in improving the lives of all Singaporeans. He swiftly overhauled the education system that Singapore inherited from the British, and implemented progressive policies that would enable Singaporeans to seize opportunities in the global economy.
He made sure that all could enjoy basic education, and upheld the ideal of meritocracy. He promoted English as the first language so Singaporeans could plug themselves into the global economy. But he insisted on bilingualism too so they could be rooted in their respective cultures through their mother tongues.
Meritocracy and bilingualism are among the most enduring of Mr Lee’s legacies.