#HerWorldHerStory: Why Valerie Ng, 23, believes in the power of education to fight poverty

by Cara Van Miriah; Hayley Tai & Wen Xuan  /   March 19, 2020

Being evicted from her home a week before A-levels didn’t dull the spirit of the NUS graduate


#HerWorldHerStory is a collection of 60 women sharing their successes, passions, challenges, inspirations, hopes and dreams. Together, they give a snapshot of what it is to be a woman today.

Every month from March till August, we present 10 women navigating their lives now – and in their own words. This is Valerie Ng’s story…

Hair Aung Apichai, using Kevin Murphy Makeup Lolent Lee, using Shiseido

The volunteer tutor overcame poverty through education, and later started a free tuition programme for underprivileged children.

I knew excelling in my exams would open doors for scholarships and a better-paying career path, giving me a shot at social mobility.

This is also what I hope for my tutees – and the reason I jumped on the opportunity to help the financially needy kids who might lack access to educational privileges, through a free tuition programme.

I believe in the power of education to overcome poverty, and it’s important to look beyond the present circumstances and towards the future.

I know what it’s like to be poor, having been in that situation before. At one point in my life, I stood in Ngee Ann City’s Kinokuniya every day for six hours, poring over books to avoid going home where the loan sharks would harass us.

A week before my A-level examinations, my family was evicted from the rental flat, as we could no longer afford to pay rent.

My phone line was cut off, and with no money, I relied on the kindness of my friends and teachers, who pooled pocket money and shared their canteen food. A friend even opened her home to me.

I buried myself deep in my studies. With the aid of bursaries and a bank loan, I recently graduated as a psychology major from the National University of Singapore.

Along with my friends Yip Yunting and Karin Pang, we give free English and Math tuition classes on Saturdays to underprivileged primary school children at Ang Mo Kio’s Cheng San Community Centre. I also plan the activities and prepare worksheets for the programme. The programme now has 10 primary school students aged nine to 12.

Last year, one of my students was awarded the Edusave Good Progress Award by the Ministry of Education. It was a very rewarding moment for all of us.

This article was first published in Her World’s March issue. Grab a copy today!