Knowledge Universe operates more than 3,000 preschools globally employing over 30,000 passionate educators and staff supported by world-class educational resources and well-researched curricula. Read more.
Thank you for inviting me to join you as you celebrate the Indian New Year.
Some may not know that, in India, there are many New Years. Every state celebrates the new year in its own way, going by different names, such as Puthaandu, Vesaki and Vishu. Some adorn their homes with kolams, some visit the temple for blessings, some prepare special dishes. Each custom represents a unique culture. These customs are alive and well in Singapore, reflecting the diversity within our Indian community.
While in name and rituals, the various Indian New Year celebrations may seem like distinct festivals, the same thread of hope and joy runs through each celebration. It is a happy day. There is thanksgiving for the past year, preparation for a fresh one, and, of course, a celebration of family and loved ones, with whom we hope to share the new year, and many more years to come. These are sentiments that we all celebrate, regardless of race.
Five years ago, under the leadership of the Little India Shopkeepers & Heritage Association (LISHA) and the Hindu Endowments Board, our various Indian communities came together to organise an Indian New Year Celebration that would embrace the different Indian New Year practices.
This is a good idea. Bringing the various Indian communities together through the Indian New Year Celebrations has paved the way for greater co-operation, understanding and sharing. Each community can showcase its own culture while learning more about those of others. Participants started to attend one another’s events, and, over time, have come to understand and appreciate one another’s heritage more deeply. The wider Singaporean community can enjoy a much richer cultural environment thanks to your efforts in keeping the diverse Indian cultures alive.
There is one more important thing you have achieved - by embracing and celebrating our diversity, you emphasise all that we share in common and you are growing the space for shared understanding. In Singapore, we are fortunate to have the opportunity to celebrate many times throughout the year, for many different reasons, each in its own unique way. Whatever our backgrounds, we join one another on big days like Deepavali, Chinese New Year, Hari Raya, Vesak Day and Christmas. Each of these occasions is a chance for us to connect meaningfully and to build greater understanding across cultural boundaries. We embrace all of these as Singaporean days of celebrations.
As we see greater diversity in our society, we must continue to harness the strength that comes with that diversity, and to build our common spaces, as you have done. This is not just a nice-to-have; it is important to the kind of Singapore society that we hope to have, one where every member feels valued for his unique qualities and heritage. In difficult times, it will be precisely this common space, these feelings of having shared important moments together, that will keep us as one. In this, I hope many more of us can learn from your good example with the Indian New Year celebrations.
Indeed, I hope to see this same spirit when Singapore celebrates our 50th anniversary next year. Just as you have come together spontaneously to celebrate the commonalities within the diversity of our Indian community, I hope that our SG50 celebrations will be a similar celebration of all that our diverse communities cherish in common about Singapore. And just like today’s celebrations, the best celebrations will be the ground-up ones that grow out of the community itself. On the part of the government, we will create opportunities and give support good ideas to come to fruition. I hope to hear some exciting ideas from you today.
I thank LISHA and all the community organisations for creating this wonderful celebration and giving us all this opportunity to celebrate what we have in common together.
And I wish you Putthaandu Vaazhthukkal (“Happy New Year”). May the new year bring you and your families much happiness and success! And may we meet again next year with even more in common to celebrate.
Nandri (“Thank you”).
We are entering an age where there are increasing demands to do more for our students in some instances, and less in others. Whatever the case may be, the reality facing our education system today requires a deep understanding of the fast-changing and challenging world that we, in MOE and as a fraternity, must continue to navigate in order to build a better future.
Even as there are challenges, I am heartened by the many stories I hear (some of which you will hear later) about the unwavering steadfastness of our teachers and education partners. Our teachers and education partners continue to make a positive difference to students’ lives, giving hope and opportunity, and helping them understand and embrace their potential, whatever the starting point. Our school leaders show good foresight and whole-hearted dedication as they role-model the commitment to excellence, being inspiring leader-mentors to both staff and students.
Indeed, the essence of teaching remains the same; to lead, care and inspire. We need caring and reflective teachers who are committed to their craft, eager to push the frontiers of learning. Our teachers and education partners are committed to working together to continue to inspire our students to be the best that they can be. The strength of our education system lies therefore in our people, and we must recognise that our teachers, education partners and school leaders have been instrumental in contributing to the success of our education system. On this note, I would like to extend my warmest congratulations to the 7,103 MOE officers who have been promoted this year. They comprise 6,650 Education Officers, 272 Allied Educators (AED) and 181 Executive and Administrative Staff (EAS). Congratulations to you on your well-deserved promotion.Pivotal Role of Teachers and Leaders as Mentors
At the recent MOE COS Debate, I emphasised on MOE’s commitment to bringing out the best in every child. To maximise the potential of each child, teachers and leaders must continue to live out the vision of the Teaching Service; to lead, care and inspire.
Dr. Fadilah Bte Isnin, an officer with the Malay Language Centre of Singapore, leads the way to ensure that every child can learn, whatever the starting point. She has developed resources and programmes to help primary school students learn the Malay Language effectively, supporting them to become active learners and proficient users of the language. For instance, she created a ‘Developing Basic Reading Skills Package’ to help students who have difficulty grasping basic reading skills acquire the confidence and ability to read. She would also guide teachers in schools on the use of such packages. Fadilah’s commitment to enhancing students’ active learning and teachers’ pedagogical capability serves as an inspiration to us all.
On this note, I would like to congratulate Fadilah, who has been promoted as well as appointed Principal Master Teacher, the pinnacle of the Teaching Track, joining 5 other Principal Master Teachers in their pursuit to role-model the commitment to excellence in teaching and learning, recognised for their leadership in, and contributions to the Teaching Service.
Teacher-mentors play an essential role in nurturing a stronger teacher-led culture of professional collaboration and excellence. Mrs Gopala Krishnan, a Lead Teacher at Yishun Town Secondary School, plays a crucial role in guiding and mentoring the teachers in her department, and helps to develop their competencies in teaching History and Social Studies as well as conducting both local and overseas field trips. Gopala leads the department’s Professional Learning Circle (PLC) in developing lesson packages based on Concept-Based Teaching and conducted structured sharing sessions on content knowledge and pedagogies. She also shares extensively at school, cluster and national levels. Form Teachers also appreciate the advice she shares in managing students. To bring out the best in the child, our schools must have competent teachers who have a growth mindset.
Teacher-mentors like Fadilah and Gopala have the ability to influence lives. As mentors, they nurture and inspire younger teachers, touching not only their minds but also their spirits, and changing the way they see and feel about themselves. The multiplier effect of teacher-mentors is thus very high. Such influence is truly a rare privilege that must be respected and cultivated.Negotiating Challenges Ahead
As we strive to create a better future for our students, taking care of our students’ needs in every domain of learning and providing multiple pathways for every child to succeed, our schools must be ready for greater complexities ahead. It is not easy to overcome problems and challenges because they will always be there, but I believe that our teachers and leaders will continue to display a willingness to transform problems and challenges into great opportunities, for themselves and for their students.
A Head of Department at Northbrooks Secondary School who oversees the development of Normal (Technical) students, Mr Donny Lee deeply values the holistic development of every child. He recognises that a low self-esteem affects a child’s ability to learn and to realise his true potential. It is this belief that has led Donny to conceptualise and implement a special programme to leverage students’ talents through the use of experiential learning. He addresses his students as those who are Naturally Talented (NT), believing that they have hidden talents waiting to be discovered. In so doing, Donny has been successful in helping his students unleash their hidden potential.
Every child can succeed, though they may have different needs as a result of their varied interests, temperaments and attitudes. Mr Chong Woon Hoy, a Head of Department at West Grove Primary School who oversees student development, recognises this. He feels that it is important that he continually engages teachers and partners, to work together to make a positive difference to every student’s life, whatever their starting point. For example, Woon Hoy would always seek teachers’ and parents’ perspectives on the diverse range of student development programmes that have been implemented in the school, so that the school can continue to help every child become better.
Complementing the efforts of our teachers to enable every child to succeed, our Senior Specialists continue to play a crucial role in developing practices that meet the needs of the education system. As a Principal Specialist, Dr. Poon Chew Leng, a Deputy Director of Planning Division, is responsible for harvesting best practices from international education research platforms, and evaluating findings from international studies such as PISA, to inform teaching and learning. Chew Leng recognises the importance of being actively involved in the field, to keep abreast with recent developments and to understand various roadblocks to implementation. The willingness to take up new challenges in exploring emerging areas of need to develop expertise and knowledge will, no doubt, continue to support the development of our teachers and students in the areas of teaching and learning.
Congratulations to Donny, Woon Hoy and Chew Leng on their promotion. It is also my pleasure to share with you that 1 Principal Specialist and 3 Lead Specialists have been appointed this year, bringing our total of Principal Specialists and Lead Specialists to 5 and 7 respectively. These Senior Specialists are recognised for their pioneering efforts in more specialised areas of work such as curriculum and assessment, education research and measurement, as well as guidance. Congratulations to the newly appointed Senior Specialists too.
The examples I have just shared reflect how our teachers and Senior Specialists are more than able to make use of various opportunities. Your commitment to harnessing meaningful, creative ways to lead and manage changes will certainly leave a lasting impact. I am confident that you will continue to rise to the occasion, and do your level best to contribute to the holistic education experience of our students.Crucial Role of Education Partners
As we applaud the contributions of our teachers, we must not forget the crucial role that our education partners play, working hand in hand as One MOE, to bring out the best in every child. For example, our Allied Educators, specialising in the areas of Counselling, Teaching and Learning, and Learning and Behavioural Support, continue to forge strong partnership with our teachers, and provide more specialised support for our students to help them improve self-confidence, self-esteem and sense of independence.
Mr Kenny Ong is a Lead School Counsellor at Pioneer Primary School who firmly believes that every child can succeed. Kenny had counselled a lower primary student for being disruptive in class. Working together with his parents and teachers, the student was given the opportunity to channel his energy and develop his talents through drama. He also did well to be in a secondary school of his choice, and achieved accolades in story-telling and speech competitions at national level.Working as One MOE
Teachers and education partners in both schools and HQ must continue to work hand in hand to improve and provide a holistic education experience for the students. Our administrative staff continue to provide the much-needed support to address our students’ needs and provide more streamlined services for our teachers.
Vice Principal (Administration) of St. Andrew’s Secondary School, Miss Jaslin Kok, works closely with both teachers and administrative staff to improve administrative systems in the school. She has streamlined a number of procedures and has conducted coaching sessions on budgeting for staff. She oversaw the merger of two ICT administration systems which not only created savings for the school, but also increased administrative efficiency. In addition, Jaslin has worked closely with the school counsellors to connect with partners who could provide therapy support for a student with special needs.
Mdm Tan Siaw Peng, an Assistant Director with Finance and Development Division, works closely with internal and external stakeholders such as IDA, to develop, maintain and operate complex systems, particularly those relating to Edusave and Post-Secondary Education Schemes. The Edusave system impacts more than 500,000 students while the Post-Secondary Education system serves more than 800,000 account holders. With a service-oriented attitude and strong desire to serve schools better, Siaw Peng’s commitment to constantly look at new ways to improve systems and processes to better suit students’ needs is indeed laudable.
My congratulations to Kenny, Jaslin and Siaw Peng on their promotion. They are examples of how our AED and administrative staff have made an impact on our education system.Conclusion
As we recognise the excellent work of our teachers and education partners, it is apt that we pay tribute to over 10,000 pioneer educators and staff for laying the strong foundation that we will continue to build on. To the pioneer generation of educators and staff, your stories will continue to inspire us.
To all officers who have been promoted this year, I am sure that your family members, some of whom are in the audience today, must be very proud of you. We would like to take this opportunity to thank them for their support, which has been instrumental in allowing our officers to excel in their respective areas of work.
In concluding, I am glad that our teachers possess a strong sense of mission and embrace the greater purpose of teaching, guided by values and principles, as they continue to role-model the commitment to excellence. I am confident that our teachers and education partners will continue to work together to build a better future for our students. Let me once again congratulate all of you for a job well done. I wish you all the best in the journey ahead.
In this hall, you see Pinwheels all over and around the school and this is a very apt metaphor to show synergy and connectedness - of parents and the whole community working in partnership with the school to support the holistic development of all its students. And, just like how a little encouragement by the wind sets a pinwheel in motion, this synergistic relationship opens up invaluable possibilities for our students.
As the African saying goes, “It takes a village to raise a child”. This saying remains relevant and true to this day and I commend Ping Yi Secondary School for your strong support and efforts to engage and actively involve parents, stakeholders and partners in school programmes and school improvement. By fostering a close and collaborative partnership with its stakeholders and partners through school engagement and community projects, the school has been able to garner support to help it deliver the holistic and quality education it seeks to provide to all its students. I am glad to see so many of Ping Yi Secondary’s stakeholders and partners here this morning. Your presence affirms your support for the school and for its mission to bring out the best in each of its students.The Living Legacy
I am very happy to join you this morning to celebrate Ping Yi Secondary School’s 30th Anniversary and to officiate the opening of The Living Legacy. The Living Legacy traces the history of the villagers who settled here in Chai Chee way back in the 1930s. These villagers were determined to provide a good education for their children and rallied together to establish the Pin Ghee Public School. When funds were lacking, they started an abattoir and used its proceeds to fund school operations. Clearly, the innovative spirit was strong even back then.
Ping Yi Secondary has maintained this innovative spirit over the years and continually sought to provide an engaging as well as quality education to its students. It aims to nurture all its students into Individuals of distinction, strong and upright in character, passionate about learning, innovative in spirit, and with a heart to serve the community. On this occasion of its 30th Anniversary, I would like to extend my warmest congratulations to the Principal, staff and students of Ping Yi Secondary School.Signature Programmes
Over the years, Ping Yi Secondary has done well. In 1997, with a focus on entrepreneurship, it ran an IT Co-operative. In 2006, it started on its Restorative Practices journey to better engage and develop its students by addressing their social and emotional needs, and these efforts have been so successful that the school has been asked to share at different platforms. In that same year, the school also launched its first National Education trail, called the Go East Heritage Trail.
Today, Ping Yi is a dynamic school with a niche in Design Education. It has developed and put in place a robust programme to promote Design Thinking in students. For its efforts in this area, it has been recognised as a Zonal Centre of Excellence in Design Education and has actively shared its knowledge and expertise with other schools. In line with this, the school has also advocated the use of authentic, real-world situations to make lessons relevant and meaningful to the learners. Such a focus in teaching and learning has enabled the school to develop a school-wide approach to Applied Learning. To deliver a holistic education, and inculcate good character and values, Ping Yi has also put in place a Life-long Learning Programme in Student Leadership through Character & Citizenship Education. All these programmes reflect its strong emphasis on a student-centric, and values-driven education.
I am happy to see that the school has gone beyond the Go East Heritage Trail to develop 2 more trails to heighten students’ and the community’s awareness of our heritage and culture. I am also told that the development of these trails was informed by Design Education and the students were equipped not just with a map with well-marked paths. Rather, they were equipped with a compass and navigation skills and had to think about how to create meaningful trails. Now, this is important. We have to teach our students to think, to evaluate and know how to solve problems and respond to challenges. I would like to encourage Ping Yi Secondary to continue with your good efforts in this area. The 2012 results of the Programme for International Student Assessment, or PISA, have clearly affirmed such efforts on our schools’ part, including the efforts of Ping Yi Secondary.Nurturing Every Child
Ping Yi Secondary is also one of the 12 prototype schools offering students higher-level subjects beyond their stream. I have been told that the students are coping relatively well and are very appreciative of this effort to cater to their diverse strengths and interests. Bringing out the best in each student and providing equal opportunities to all are fundamental goals of our education system and I want to commend the school for being steadfast in your mission to nurture all your students.
The school’s efforts and hard work have already borne fruit. For example, one of its students in the Normal Course, Marcus Goh Tao Zhi, was awarded the Lee Kuan Yew Award for Outstanding Normal Course Student in 2013 for his outstanding academic and co-curricular achievements. The school has also received the Lee Hsien Loong Award for Innovations in the Normal Course in 2012 and it testifies to the achievements in both the academic and non-academic areas. Indeed, Ping Yi has succeeded in helping its students discover their strengths and interests.Dedicated Teachers
The school’s achievements speak well of its team of dedicated and caring teachers. It is clear that the teachers and school leaders have worked hard and continued to explore creative ways to engage the students. Continue with your efforts, In particular, I encourage you to continue to foster innovations and design thinking, which will certainly put our students in good stead and give them a good head-start in an ever-evolving, ever-changing world. The dedication of the teachers has made all the difference in the development and growth of the students. Keep up the good work and keep up the partnership with alumni, with the school advisory committee and with all the key stakeholders!Conclusion
Ping Yi Secondary has rightly put a focus on building quality relationships with students and parents, and fostering collaboration with partners and the community. It is this bond that allows the school to achieve more and we all achieve more together than working alone.
On this note, I would like to thank the School Advisory Committee, the Alumni body, the Parents Support Group, all parents and partners of the school for your support of Ping Yi Secondary. Indeed, it takes a whole village to raise a child and I hope this is a happy and cooperative village!
In conclusion, I would like, once again, to wish Ping Yi a Happy 30th Anniversary and all the best for a better future!