This taste of success made Francesca realise she could chart her own path, and she became more motivated to do so. She credits her achievements to good adult role models like her secondary school teachers who encouraged her, and her mother, who showed her what it meant to be resilient.
“I was taught to be a good steward of my life, regardless of whatever circumstances I was placed in,” says Francesca, who received financial assistance from the Ministry of Education from Primary 1 to JC2. In addition, her undergraduate and master’s degrees were funded by scholarships. She was one of two recipients of the Ee Peng Liang Memorial Fund Scholarship, which covered the tuition grant for her master’s degree.
Francesca remembers the tough times of her childhood well — sometimes, she did not even have stationery to complete her homework. It was her right attitude and sheer determination to overcome adversities that brought her to where she is today. Her personal experiences and conviction in education as a social mobiliser are what made her start BLESS in 2014, with community interventions as the focus. Shining Star Reads, a reading programme curated by BLESS, promotes literacy skills as a core component.
“As a primary school teacher, I’ve seen how kids from lower-income families lack literacy skills because English is not used at home and they have less access to story books,” this passionate educator says. “These kids are weaker in English, yet, this is our schools’ main language of instruction, so they fall behind.”