Self-help groups gave out a record number of Joint Tuition Awards to students yesterday.

The Chinese Development Assistance Council, Eurasian Association, Sinda and Yayasan Mendaki gave the awards to 694 students who took the Primary School Leaving Examination, N levels or O levels.

The students, who are beneficiaries of the groups' subsidised tuition programmes, each received $100 to $150 worth of Popular bookstore vouchers.

The awards were given at an event held at the Institute of Technical Education's headquarters in Ang Mo Kio.

This is the highest number of tuition awards the self-help groups have given out. Last year, 571 students received the prizes.

Learning one's mother tongue should be made "as easy as possible" for children, Education Minister Heng Swee Keat said yesterday.

He was addressing 500 educators, parents, community partners and students at the Mother Tongue Languages Symposium.

"I don't mean lowering standards in the exams. I'm not asking you to set easier papers, but rather, let us find ways and means to help our children learn the language naturally and easily," said Mr Heng.

Six teachers received the Outstanding Award given to pre-school mother tongue teachers, and another seven were given the Merit Award. They were chosen out of 100 nominations.

The Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) has won three awards at an air combat exercise in the US.

It won for Best Aircraft Maintenance Unit, Best Overall Mission Commander and Best Personnel Rescue Warrior at the exercise, which was held at the Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada from Aug 17 to 28.

The RSAF deployed nine F-16C/D fighter aircraft, three CH-47 helicopters, and about 170 personnel from its Peace Carvin II and Peace Prairie detachments in the US, for the exercise, alongside 91 other aircraft from the US and foreign air forces.

The RSAF has been taking part in Exercise Red Flag-Nellis since 1982.

Devotees turned up at the Singapore Buddhist Lodge early yesterday to wait for the cortege of Mr Lee Bock Guan.

The Lodge president died at 3.15am yesterday in hospital, where he had been treated since Wednesday.

He was undergoing kidney dialysis when he developed a fever and was taken to the Singapore General Hospital and diagnosed with a viral infection.

Mr Lee, known for his commitment to charity, was conferred with the National Day Service Star BBM by then President S R Nathan in 2009.

His body will rest at the Lodge, where he had served for more than 40 years, before leaving for Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery for cremation on Wednesday.