16. Textbook Example of Sharing is Caring

Photo: Mr Seah Kian Peng, then-Group Chief Executive Officer of FairPrice Group, at the 39th Share-A-Textbook distribution drive in 2021. Source: FairPrice Group

Every November, all FairPrice outlets serve as drop-off points for people to donate their used textbooks. After being cleaned and sorted by volunteers, the books would be distributed to needy families. Any remaining books would be recycled.

This initiative was prompted by a request from former labour chief turned Singapore President Devan Nair who asked then-NTUC Welcome Chairman Lim Yong Wah if more could be done to help poor students. After a few brainstorming sessions among FairPrice management, the Used Textbook Project was born in 1983.

It was later renamed FairPrice Share-A-Textbook in 2010. Commemorating its 40th anniversary in 2022, the project has collected, redistributed and recycled more than 7.5 million books to help students save on textbook expenses, promote the value of thrift and encourage Singaporeans to go green.

At the celebration to mark the milestone, Minister for Education Chan Chun Sing said the scheme “is not just the passing on of textbooks. It is something more important – the passing on of values” such as gratefulness.

“For all of us who have the privilege to own textbooks, it is not just something for us to use and discard. We are but stewards of those textbooks, (we should) give thanks for the opportunity to use them and then to pass them on,” he added.

Something to think about the next time you feel the urge to doodle on your textbook or dog-ear the pages. And don’t forget to donate them at our next collection drive!

Since its humble beginnings in a corner of Toa Payoh, NTUC FairPrice has become the quintessential Singaporean supermarket. The leap from a single store to a grocery giant is a tale of retail reinvention – a half-century journey that saw the cooperative confront crises and challenges, revamps and even robbers.

As it expanded and evolved, FairPrice never wavered from its core mission: to moderate the cost of living for consumers. It Takes a Great Deal - A Catalogue of FairPrice Group Stories encapsulates the birth of the consumer cooperative in 1973 and its transformation into a $4 billion food enterprise that is now called FairPrice Group.

Through 50 remarkable stories, we celebrate the people, products and places that mark significant milestones for the food retailer over the last five decades, charting its growth and successes in the past, present and into the future.