Search

News

AFT, NEA Agendas Converge Amid External, Internal Pressure - Education Week

Education Week - Teachers - 25 July 2014
At their recent conventions, the teachers' unions showed remarkable alignment on key issues, from testing and accountability to common-core implementation and forceful rebukes of Secretary Duncan.
Topic: Teachers

Teachers Get Up-Close Insight Into High Court Workings - Education Week

Education Week - Teachers - 21 July 2014
The Supreme Court Summer Institute for Teachers brings educators with a keen interest in the law to Washington for a hands-on encounter with the nation's highest court.
Topic: Teachers

Racial Harmony Day Celebrations 2014 "Harmony from The Heart"

On 21 July this year, schools in Singapore marked the 50th anniversary of the 1964 racial riots. Racial Harmony Day (RHD), commemorated by schools on 21 July annually, has helped to promote inter-racial understanding among our students and is an important part of our national education. This year, our students will go a step further to advocate racial harmony among neighbours and friends.

This year’s RHD theme is “Harmony from the Heart”. It recognises that genuine and sincere harmony stems from the common values and aspirations we share, and the ties that bind us together. It can only be achieved if everyone takes the initiative to understand the different cultures, and inspire others to do the same.

The RHD celebrations are a reminder that promoting social cohesion and racial harmony requires collaborative efforts from our educators, students and stakeholders, including parents.

Political leaders from the Ministry of Education joined students to commemorate RHD at various schools today:

Political Leader School Mr Heng Swee Keat
Minister for Education Elias Park Primary School Ms Indranee Rajah
Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Law & Ministry of Education Bartley Secondary School Ms Sim Ann
Minister of State, Ministry of Education & Ministry of Communications and Information Greenridge Primary School Mr Hawazi Daipi
Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Education & Ministry of Manpower Yishun Secondary School RHD Activities at Elias Park Primary School

As the Guest-of-Honour (GOH) at Elias Park Primary School (EPPS), Minister for Education Mr Heng Swee Keat noted that good relationships can only be built if we better understand those around us. He encouraged students to do their part to understand other cultures, and going beyond that, to also be advocates of racial harmony. He announced that, OnePeople.sg, a ground-up national body focused on building racial and religious harmony, has been working with MOE and our primary schools to engage all Primary 4 students in advocating racial harmony by providing them with Orange Ribbon kits. The Orange Ribbon has been adopted by OnePeople.sg as a symbol of racial harmony to promote values of respect, understanding, trust and friendship. Each Primary 4 student will make six orange ribbons from the materials in the kit. Students will wear one of the ribbons and give the other ribbons to someone of a different culture, who could be a schoolmate or a neighbour. The ribbon will be accompanied with a personal note encouraging the recipient to wear the ribbon, and to talk to a friend or a neighbour from a different race to find out more about his or her culture and practices.

Primary 4 students from EPPS became the school’s advocates of inter-cultural understanding and racial harmony, by playing host to children from two kindergartens in the Pasir Ris area. Some of the EPPS students served as SH@PE Guides to lead visitors through the Singapore Heritage @ Elias Park (SH@PE) Alive!, which comprises different learning centres with artefact displays, interactive exhibits and resource materials. These SH@PE Guides and dedicated parent volunteers helped their guests and the kindergarten children to gain insights into our nation’s rich heritage, understand our customs and traditions, be connected to the way of life of yesteryear, and appreciate the different cultures that make up Singapore. The Primary 4 EPPS students also presented the Orange Ribbons that they made to the children from the two kindergartens. Thereafter, they also shared about the importance of racial harmony and encouraged behaviours to demonstrate the intended values.

RHD Activities at Bartley Secondary School

As the GOH, Ms Indranee Rajah, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Law & Ministry of Education, opened Bartley Secondary School (BSS)’s Hawker Culture Learning Gallery, which aims to enhance the teaching and learning of hawker culture and heritage. Schools from the S6 cluster, which include Bartley Secondary, Cedar Primary, Cedar Girls’ Secondary, CHIJ Our Lady of the Nativity, Peicai Secondary, St Gabriel’s Primary, St Gabriel’s Secondary, St Margaret’s Secondary, Teck Ghee Primary, Yangzheng Primary, Zhonghua Primary and Zhonghua Secondary, collaborated to put up the exhibition on how hawker culture promotes better inter-cultural understanding. Through sharing their knowledge and learning, students acted as advocates of inter-cultural understanding to their schoolmates and peers from other schools.

Visitors were interviewed by BSS students regarding their recollections of hawker food and its relevance to racial harmony and nation-building in Singapore. The interviews were conducted in front of a green screen and captured on video, later to be edited against a background of a hawker scene. These videos will be used as resources for students to deepen their learning about Singapore’s unique feature of racial harmony through the place that hawker centres play in our lives.

RHD Activities at Greenridge Primary School

As the GOH, Ms Sim Ann, Minister of State, Ministry of Education & Ministry of Communications and Information, joined Greenridge Primary School (GRPS) students in commemorating RHD through playing traditional games and learning about other cultures. Primary 4 students acted as advocates of inter-cultural understanding, through giving an Orange Ribbon to Primary 3 students and explaining its meaning, and teaching them the traditional games, which promote the values of respect, understanding, trust and friendship.

These activities reinforced the learning from GRPS’s signature programme named Funtastick Harmony, a school-based programme comprising an array of activities across different themes, such as Food, Festivals, Music and Sports. Through this programme, students learn to work together (stick) in harmony through fun and meaningful common experiences. It promotes cross-cultural understanding and social cohesion amongst students of different races, reinforcing the civic values of respect, care, harmony, graciousness and public-spiritedness.

RHD Activities at Yishun Secondary School

As the GOH, Mr Hawazi Daipi, Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Education & Ministry of Manpower, joined Yishun Secondary School (YSS) in commemorating RHD with some of the pioneer generation members living in Chong Pang constituency. Students had earlier interviewed them to find out more about the racial riots that they had witnessed or lived through, their lives in the kampong, as well as how they continue to live out the kampong spirit in their current Housing Development Board estates. This effort was part of YSS’s collaboration with Chong Pang Community Centre, where students interacted with residents when they visited and helped them clean their homes. YSS screened the video that captured the process. This was a Values in Action (VIA) initiative that allowed students to appreciate the contributions of our pioneer generation in nation-building and encouraged students to extend their care and concern to the people around them.

Mr Hawazi launched a portal, Harmony from the Heart, a digital repository of photographs taken by students to represent their commitment towards racial harmony. This repository of photographs will also serve as a teaching and learning resource that teachers can use to engage students in oral discussion and to teach essay-writing.

Speech by Mr Hawazi Daipi at the Racial Harmony Day Celebrations

Remembering the Past

50 years ago today, on the 21st of July 1964, a peaceful procession from the Padang to Geylang turned violent. Fighting broke out between Malay participants and Chinese individuals. The violence spread quickly. Before long, it turned into a racial riot.

In this riot, people attacked others simply because they came from a different race. They were emotional and they listened more to rumours than to reason. The riots spread across two five-day periods in 1964 where property was destroyed, many people were injured and some lost their lives. This was one of the darkest periods in Singapore’s history.

It is a period in time which we never want to repeat. It is important for us to remember the tragic consequences of racial disharmony, and irresponsible spreading of rumours. There was a lack of understanding among the races which led to suspicion. There were instigators who misled others and fed on these suspicions.

That is why we make it a point to commemorate Racial Harmony Day every year on 21 July. More importantly, throughout the year, we must strive to better understand our various cultures and practices, and form strong friendships across the communities. These relationships that bind us together will help us in difficult times. When the riots occurred in Singapore in 1964, there were many stories of how Singaporeans from the different races protected their neighbours. One such story comes from the predominantly Chinese kampong of Kampong Sireh . Inche Hussein Bin Ibrahim was the Malay ketua (head) there in 1964. He told The Straits Times after the riots that the 70 Malays and the 3000 Chinese who lived there were ‘one family’. During the periods of disturbances, Chinese families did the marketing for the Malays. At night, Chinese and Malays joined together as guards. It was the trust, friendship and understanding among the villagers that helped the community survive the difficult times. The good relationships, built during peaceful times, between the Malay families and Chinese families in Kampong Sireh meant that nothing external was going to change the way they interacted with one another.

Building Understanding and Advocating for Racial Harmony

Good relationships can only be built if we better understand those around us.
I am heartened by the recent study on Indicators of Racial and Religious Harmony. These indicators were created by OnePeople.sg, a ground-up national body focussed on building racial and religious harmony, and the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS), to gauge the state of racial and religious relations in Singapore. The results show that Singapore has much to celebrate about the state of harmony here. Schools and the community groups must have done a good job in educating subsequent generations of the importance of racial and religious harmony. Still, there are areas that we need to work on. The study shows that we can do more in building “interest in intercultural understanding and interaction”. We must not take intercultural understanding and interaction for granted. We have to continue to build strong bonds in our community - bonds of trust, friendship and understanding — to meet the challenges of the volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous global environment we face today. We also need to encourage others to do the same - which means that each of us should be an advocate for racial harmony.

I understand that students from your school have earlier met up with some Pioneer Generation Singaporeans who live in the Yishun area and interviewed them to find out more about the racial riot which they had witnessed or heard of in their growing years. This effort was part of your school’s collaboration with Chong Pang Community Centre, where students engaged in meaningful interaction with the residents by going into their homes to assist them with their cleaning. This is an excellent Values in Action platform which also allows students to remember the contributions of our pioneer generation in nation building. Besides building understanding of the importance of Racial Harmony, this experience also encouraged students to extend their care and concern for the people around them, which is critical in building strong bonds in our community.

Students have also acted as advocates of Racial Harmony through creating a digital portal containing photographs which they feel best represent their commitment towards racial harmony. This portal will be an impactful way for students to encourage others to share this commitment. Through building understanding and acting as advocates, as the Yishun Secondary students have done, I hope that we will learn to value one another for our similarities as well as our differences. This will enable us all to do our part in building a community of mutual respect and harmony.

Conclusion

Singapore has thrived because of our openness to international trade flow, knowledge and cultures, all of which have brought us opportunities and progress. As Singapore moves towards a more diverse landscape, it is important that we continue to embrace diversity. Singapore is a cosmopolitan city like many other dynamic cities of the world. We also need to go beyond understanding the main races to respecting all people regardless of race, language or religion, who live and work in Singapore - for the happiness, prosperity and progress of our nation. .

This year, let us not just look back on the tragic events of 50 years ago, but also look forward to think about what we can do to ensure Singapore continues to enjoy harmony in the next 50 years and beyond. Let us all do our part to understand other cultures, and going beyond that, let us also be advocates for racial harmony. I want to encourage all of you to make a special effort to befriend people of other races, cultures and religions, and encourage your friends and neighbours to do the same as we go about promoting ‘Harmony from the Heart.’

I wish all of you an engaging and meaningful Racial Harmony Day.

Thank you.

Footnote
  1. From “Chinese Village Guarded its Malay Families” published in The Straits Times, 17 September 1964.

Speech by Ms Indranee Rajah at the Racial Harmony Day Celebrations

Remembering the Past

50 years ago today, on the 21st of July 1964, a peaceful procession from the Padang to Geylang turned violent. Fighting broke out between Malay participants and Chinese individuals. The violence spread quickly. Before long, it turned into a racial riot.

In this riot, people attacked others simply because they came from a different race. They were emotional and they listened more to rumours than to reason. The riots spread across two five-day periods in 1964 where property was destroyed, many people were injured and some lost their lives. This was one of the darkest periods in Singapore’s history.

It is a period in time which we never want to repeat. It is important for us to remember the tragic consequences of racial disharmony, and irresponsible spreading of rumours. There was a lack of understanding among the races which led to suspicion. There were instigators who misled others and fed on these suspicions.

That is why we make it a point to commemorate Racial Harmony Day every year on 21 July. More importantly, throughout the year, we must strive to better understand our various cultures and practices, and form strong friendships across the communities. These relationships that bind us together will help us in difficult times. When the riots occurred in Singapore in 1964, there were many stories of how Singaporeans from the different races protected their neighbours. One such story comes from the predominantly Chinese kampong of Kampong Sireh 1. Inche Hussein Bin Ibrahim was the Malay ketua (head) there in 1964. He told The Straits Times after the riots that the 70 Malays and the 3000 Chinese who lived there were ‘one family’. During the periods of disturbances, Chinese families did the marketing for the Malays. At night, Chinese and Malays joined together as guards. It was the trust, friendship and understanding among the villagers that helped the community survive the difficult times. The good relationships, built during peaceful times, between the Malay families and Chinese families in Kampong Sireh meant that nothing external was going to change the way they interacted with one another.

Building Understanding and Advocating for Racial Harmony

Good relationships can only be built if we better understand those around us. I am heartened by the recent study on Indicators of Racial and Religious Harmony. These indicators were created by OnePeople.sg, a ground-up national body focussed on building racial and religious harmony, and the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS), to gauge the state of racial and religious relations in Singapore. The results show that Singapore has much to celebrate about the state of harmony here. Schools and the community groups must have done a good job in educating subsequent generations of the importance of racial and religious harmony. Still, there are areas that we need to work on. The study shows that we can do more in building “interest in intercultural understanding and interaction”. We must not take intercultural understanding and interaction for granted. We have to continue to build strong bonds in our community - bonds of trust, friendship and understanding — to meet the challenges of the volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous global environment we face today. We also need to encourage others to do the same - which means that each of us should be an advocate for racial harmony.

Advocating for racial harmony can take many forms. Students from schools in the S6 cluster have collaborated to put up an exhibition on hawker culture here at Bartley Secondary School (BSS), which illustrates how hawker culture is an avenue for better intercultural understanding. Through sharing their knowledge and learning, students will act as advocates of intercultural understanding to their schoolmates and peers from other schools. Visitors will also be interviewed by BSS students regarding their recollections of hawker food and its relevance to racial harmony and nation-building in Singapore. These interviews will be captured on video and be used as resources for students to deepen their learning about racial harmony and how hawker culture contributes to it. Through building understanding and acting as advocates, as the students from BSS and other S6 cluster schools have done, I hope that we will learn to value one another for our similarities as well as our differences. This will enable us all to do our part in building a community of mutual respect and harmony.

Conclusion

Singapore has thrived because of our openness to international trade flow, knowledge and cultures, all of which have brought us opportunities and progress. As Singapore moves towards a more diverse landscape, it is important that we continue to embrace diversity. Singapore is a cosmopolitan city like many other dynamic cities of the world. We also need to go beyond understanding the main races to respecting all people regardless of race, language or religion, who live and work in Singapore - for the happiness, prosperity and progress of our nation. .

This year, let us not just look back on the tragic events of 50 years ago, but also look forward to think about what we can do to ensure Singapore continues to enjoy harmony in the next 50 years and beyond. Let us all do our part to understand other cultures, and going beyond that, let us also be advocates of racial harmony. It took us 50 years to get here, it is something that we need to preserve going forward. That is in the hands of the schools who are sitting in the audience here. Because the past 50 years were led by the pioneers before you, the next 50 years is in your hands. How Singapore develops, in terms of its racial, religious, and cultural harmony, depends on how you interact with each other, with your peers, as well as people from other races and cultures. So I want to encourage all of you to make a special effort to befriend people of other races, cultures and religions, and encourage your friends and neighbours to do the same as we go about promoting ‘Harmony from the Heart.’

I wish all of you an engaging and meaningful Racial Harmony Day.

Thank you.

Footnote
  1. From “Chinese Village Guarded its Malay Families” published in The Straits Times, 17 September 1964.

Speech by Mr Heng Swee Keat at the Racial Harmony Day Celebrations

Remembering the Past

50 years ago today, on the 21st of July 1964, a peaceful procession from the Padang to Geylang turned violent. Fighting broke out between Malay participants and Chinese individuals. The violence spread quickly. Before long, it turned into a racial riot.

In a riot, crowds of people get angry. They start fighting and hurting each other. In this riot, people attacked others simply because they were from a different race. They were emotional and they listened more to rumours than to reason. The riots spread across two five-day periods in 1964 where property was destroyed, people were injured and some lost their lives. This was one of the darkest periods in Singapore’s history.

It is a period in time which we never want to repeat. It is important for us to remember the tragic consequences of racial disharmony, and irresponsible spreading of rumours. There was a lack of understanding among the races which led to suspicion. There were instigators who misled others and fed on these suspicions.

That is why we make it a point to commemorate Racial Harmony Day every year on 21 July. More importantly, throughout the year, we must strive to better understand our various cultures and practices, and form strong friendships across the communities. These relationships that bind us together will help us in difficult times. When the riots occurred in Singapore in 1964, there were many stories of how Singaporeans from the different races protected their neighbours. One such story comes from the predominantly Chinese kampong of Kampong Sireh 1 . Inche Hussein Bin Ibrahim was the Malay ketua (head) there in 1964. He told The Straits Times after the riots that the 70 Malays and the 3000 Chinese who lived there were ‘one family’. During the periods of disturbances, Chinese families did the marketing for the Malays. At night, Chinese and Malays joined together as guards. It was the trust, friendship and understanding among the villagers that helped the community survive the difficult times. The good relationships, built during peaceful times, between the Malay families and Chinese families in Kampong Sireh meant that nothing external was going to change the way they interacted with one another.

Building Understanding and Advocating for Racial Harmony

Good relationships can only be built if we better understand those around us.
I am heartened by the recent study on Indicators of Racial and Religious Harmony. These indicators were created by OnePeople.sg, a ground-up national body focussed on building racial and religious harmony, and the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS), to gauge the state of racial and religious relations in Singapore. The results show that Singapore has much to celebrate about the state of harmony here. Schools and the community groups must have done a good job in educating subsequent generations of the importance of racial and religious harmony. Still, there are areas that we need to work on. The study shows that we can do more in building “interest in intercultural understanding and interaction”. We must not take intercultural understanding and interaction for granted. We have to continue to build strong bonds in our community - bonds of trust, friendship and understanding — to meet the challenges of the volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous global environment we face today. We also need to encourage others to do the same - which means that each of us should be an advocate of racial harmony.

I am happy to announce that OnePeople.sg has been working with MOE and our primary schools to engage all Primary 4 students in advocating racial harmony by providing them with Orange Ribbon kits. The Orange Ribbon has been adopted by OnePeople.sg as a symbol of racial harmony to promote values of respect, understanding, trust and friendship. Each Primary 4 student will make 6 orange ribbons from the materials in the kit. Students will wear one of the ribbons while giving each of the other ribbons to someone of a different culture, who could be a schoolmate or a neighbour. The ribbon will be accompanied with a personal note and card encouraging the recipient to wear the ribbon, and to talk to a friend or a neighbour from a different race to find out more about their culture and practices. I hope that this cohort experience will develop as a signature event so that over time all our young Singaporeans will have this experience of not only understanding the importance of racial harmony but also being racial harmony advocates themselves.

Today’s programme at Elias Park Primary involves the Primary 4 Eliasians representing the school to be advocates of intercultural understanding and racial harmony. They will present the Orange Ribbons they made to children from two kindergartens in the Pasir Ris area. Student guides will also lead the children through the Singapore Heritage @ Elias Park (SH@PE) Alive learning centres to teach them about the importance of Racial Harmony. This is a good example on how our students can go beyond understanding to do their part to be advocates of Racial Harmony.

Conclusion

Singapore has thrived because of our openness to international trade flow, knowledge and cultures, all of which have brought us opportunities and progress. As Singapore moves towards a more diverse landscape, it is important that we continue to embrace diversity. Singapore is a cosmopolitan city like many other dynamic cities of the world. We also need to go beyond understanding the main races to respecting all people regardless of race, language or religion, who live and work in Singapore - for the happiness, prosperity and progress of our nation.

This year, let us not just look back on the tragic events of 50 years ago, but also look forward to think about what we can do to ensure Singapore continues to enjoy harmony in the next 50 years and beyond. Let us all do our part to understand other cultures, and going beyond that, let us also be advocates of racial harmony. I want to encourage all of you to make a special effort to befriend people of other races, cultures and religions, and encourage your friends and neighbours to do the same as we go about promoting ‘Harmony from the Heart.’

I wish all of you an engaging and meaningful Racial Harmony Day.

Thank you.

Footnote
  1. From “Chinese Village Guarded its Malay Families” published in The Straits Times, 17 September 1964.

Speech by Ms Sim Ann at the Racial Harmony Day Celebrations

Remembering the Past

50 years ago today, on the 21st of July 1964, a peaceful procession from the Padang to Geylang turned violent. Fighting broke out between individuals from different races. The violence spread quickly. Before long, it turned into a racial riot.

In a riot, crowds of people get angry. They start fighting and hurt each other. In this particular riot, people attacked others simply because they were from a different race. They were emotional and they listened more to rumours than to reason. The riots spread across two five-day periods in 1964 where property was destroyed, people were injured, and very sadly some lost their lives. This was one of the darkest periods in Singapore’s history.

It is a period in time which we never want to repeat. It is important for us to remember the tragic consequences of racial disharmony, and the irresponsible spreading of rumours.

That is why we make it a point to commemorate Racial Harmony Day every year on 21 July. More importantly, throughout the year, we must all strive to better understand our various cultures and practices, and form strong friendships across the communities. These relationships will help us in difficult times. When the riots occurred in Singapore in 1964, there were many stories of how Singaporeans from different races protected their neighbours. One such story comes from the predominantly Chinese kampong of Kampong Sireh 1. Inche Hussein Bin Ibrahim was the Malay ketua (head) there in 1964. He told The Straits Times after the riots that the 70 Malay residents and the 3,000 Chinese residents who lived there were ‘one family’.

During the periods of disturbances, Chinese families did the marketing for the Malay residents. At night, the Chinese and Malays joined together as guards. It was the trust, friendship and understanding among the villagers that helped the community survive the difficult times. The good relationships, built during peaceful times, between the Malay families and Chinese families in Kampong Sireh meant that nothing external was going to change the way they interacted with one another. This is a very inspiring story of how we can build good relationships by better understanding those around us.

Building Understanding and Advocating for Racial Harmony

I am heartened by the recent study on Indicators of Racial and Religious Harmony. These were created by OnePeople.sg, a ground-up national body focussed on building racial and religious harmony, and the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS), to gauge the state of racial and religious relations in Singapore.

The results show that Singapore has much to celebrate about the state of harmony here. Schools and the community groups must have done their part in educating subsequent generations of the importance of racial and religious harmony. Still, there are areas that we can all work on. The study shows that we can do more in building “interest in intercultural understanding and interaction”. We also need to encourage others to understand the challenges of the volatile, uncertain and complex global environment that we all face today.

I am happy to note that OnePeople.sg has been working with MOE and our primary schools to engage all Primary 4 students in advocating racial harmony by providing them with Orange Ribbon kits. The Orange Ribbon has been adopted as a symbol of racial harmony to promote values of respect, understanding, trust and friendship. Each Primary 4 student will make six orange ribbons from the materials in the kit. Students will wear one of the ribbons while giving each of the other ribbons to someone of a different culture, who could be a schoolmate or a neighbour. The ribbon will be accompanied with a personal note and card encouraging the recipient to wear the ribbon, and to talk to a friend or a neighbour from a different race to find out more about their culture and practices. I hope that this experience will develop as a signature event so that over time young Singaporeans will have this experience of not just understanding the importance of racial harmony but becoming advocates themselves.

For today’s programme at Greenridge Primary School, our Primary 4 students will be acting as advocates of intercultural understanding. They will give an Orange Ribbon to Primary 3 students, explain its meaning, and teach these Primary 3 students traditional games which promote values of respect, understanding, trust and friendship. This reinforces the learning from the school’s signature programme named “Funtastick Harmony”. This is a good example on how we can encourage our students to go beyond understanding to do their part to be advocates of racial harmony.

Conclusion

Singapore has thrived because of our openness to international trade flow, knowledge and cultures, all of which have brought us opportunities and progress. As Singapore moves towards a more diverse landscape, it is important that we continue to value racial harmony. Singapore is a cosmopolitan city like many other dynamic cities of the world. We also need to go beyond understanding the main races to respecting all people regardless of race, language or religion, who live and work in Singapore.

This year, let us not just look back on the tragic events of 50 years ago, but also look forward and think about what we can do to ensure that Singapore continues to enjoy racial and religious harmony.

Let me encourage all of you to make a special effort to befriend people of other races, cultures and religions, and let me wish all of you an engaging and meaningful Racial Harmony Day.

Thank you.

Footnote
  1. From “Chinese Village Guarded its Malay Families” published in The Straits Times, 17 September 1964.

Speech (in Chinese) by Ms Sim Ann at the National Primary Schools Chinese Story-telling Competition Finals

大家早上好!今天我很高兴受邀出席由福建会馆举办的全国小学华语讲故事比赛大决赛。我也很期待看到同学们接下来精彩的表演。

新加坡自独立以来就积极推行双语教育政策,为国家栽培双语人才。其中,学习华文华语不仅能让国人在国际竞争中处于优势,也能让学生在学习的当而,认知自己的文化、历史和传统价值观。因此,我们在华文教学方面下功夫,使教材和教学变得更有趣味,希望学生能以活学活用的方式掌握华语。 在学习华语的四项技能“听、说、读、写”中,“说”是十分重要的一环。说话是人与人之间沟通最直接的方式,让人们有效的交换信息、思想,以及传达感情。因此,学生参与讲故事的活动有利于加强他们表情达意的技巧,培养他们在公开场合演讲的能力,增强自信心。

我了解这次比赛的特点是除了要求参赛学生以生动、标准的华语演讲外,参赛者呈献的故事内容也必须围绕优良的传统价值观。这有助于参赛的同学和到场支持的朋友从故事中了解本身的文化和学习做人的道理,使华文的学习变得更真实、有趣。

值得一提的是,这项比赛从2005年开始主办,到今年已步入第十个年头!主办单位更是与时俱进,精益求精,不断的寻求突破:自2011年以来获得95.8城市频道担任支持媒体,通过决赛的现场录音在电台广播,让孩子们的声音能传得更广、更远;从2012年起,比赛扩展到国际学校,激发非华族学生学习华语的兴趣,为他们提供磨练华语的机会。这里我要感谢新加坡福建会馆、中学华文教师会,以及福建会馆五所属校这十年来的辛勤努力,为学生创造更多运用华语的机会。

今天将要上场的小朋友是经过一番激烈竞争,从初赛中脱颖而出进入决赛。我在此鼓励各位小朋友尽情展示自己的语言才能,同时抱着胜不骄,败不馁的态度来参加比赛,也祝福在座各位,有个愉快的周末。

谢谢!

Speech by Mr. Heng Swee Keat at the Opening Ceremony of the National Engineers Day and Singapore Mini Maker Faire 2014

Engineering has changed the way we live, learn, work and play. Since Singapore’s early years, engineering has been a key contributor to our development. Into the 21st century, we will face many new challenges, and engineers are in a special position to meet these challenges, whether it is to develop solutions such as NEWater, a high-grade reclaimed water to sustain Singapore’s water needs or the Semakau Landfill project to effectively dispose waste and alleviate land constraints; or the ABC Waters, which promotes sustainable stormwater management.

An education and career in engineering opens up many fascinating challenges and opportunities. Indeed, today the world faces many grand challenges, whether it is about the security and sustainability of energy and food supply, the threat of infectious diseases, cyber-security, climate change, the loss of biodiversity, and so on. Science, technology and innovation will play a central role towards understanding these grand challenges, and in assessing the risks and developing workable solutions.

A career in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics enables our professionals to have the power to create value, to develop solutions, and to create impactful innovations. This is a very important area and our education system must seek to enable our people to seize opportunities and take on challenges. We are committed to an education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) that not only imparts technical knowledge to students, but nurtures in them an inquisitive attitude, a creative disposition and an entrepreneurial mindset.

At the primary and secondary school levels, students can hone their skills in Maths and Science as core subjects in the curriculum to gain a good foundation in STEM. Some of you may be aware that the way Science and Maths is being taught in our schools has changed significantly since many of us in this room were students in a primary or secondary school. There is a lot more focus on inquiry based method which encourages students to ask questions, to investigate and draw conclusions on their own. There is a lot more focus on applying knowledge in creative ways and solving problems. I am happy to say that in the coming years, Science Centre and the schools are working together on this Applied Learning Programme. In the area of STEM, my hope is that we will provide many more opportunities for students, especially in our secondary schools, to have many more opportunities, to play and tinker with things, to make things. That is how I think you develop the feel for the power to create.

Our Institutions of Higher Learning (IHLs) also collaborate with local industry players to ensure what students learn are relevant for their future career needs. The increasing emphasis in universities is on problem solving, design, and innovation. I have visited the faculties in all our universities to look at what they do in this area. I must say that it is something that we can be proud of, something that would equip our students better for their learning and for their future career.

Besides the efforts of our schools and institutions, I am also heartened to hear about IES’ multi-faceted approach in promoting engineering education. For example, it has developed mentorship programmes whereby young engineers can tap on the expertise of veterans to adapt and succeed in the profession; as well as professional development courses for mid-career engineers who aspire to stay current with developments in the field.

Indeed, we have to be innovative in engineering education if we want our future engineers to be innovative. Today, engineering education has to mean more than passing exams and being book smart. We must inspire our students to apply their knowledge creatively and to create solutions which they can see. In this regard, I am very pleased to see IES and Science Centre Singapore working together to champion effort to bring students out of their classrooms and into a fascinating world of engineering at the National Engineers Day and the Singapore Mini Maker Faire, with the support of co-organisers, the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) and the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA), and the event host National University of Singapore. I understand that this is the first year that these parties have come together to organise a festival celebrating the ingenuity and innovative achievements of engineers, and to enthuse students to take up engineering as a course of study. Looking at the rich line-up of activities, I would have a tough time deciding which activity to attend if I were a student.

Today, I am happy to announce that Singapore Polytechnic is launching a robotics and maker programme in collaboration with the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA). Through this enrichment programme, primary and secondary school students will get to own and “create” robots in a virtual world with the possibility of building them into real physical robots, enabling interactions between the virtual and physical world. This programme complements our other initiatives such as the Code for Fun programme that we are piloting with the primary and secondary schools, as well as the IDA Labs Programme to develop talent as part of Singapore’s Smart Nation initiative.

At this point, I would like to congratulate the individuals and teams who will be receiving engineering awards today. The award winners exemplify how engineering contributes to a better world. By harnessing the power to create, they have embarked on projects that have led to a difference in our lives, both big and small. I would like to highlight a few outstanding examples from the winning teams of the IES Prestigious Engineering Achievement Awards. A*STAR’s Institute of Microelectronics (IME) has come up with something called an energy harvester. The energy harvester converts low frequency vibrations, an abundant energy source in our surroundings, into electricity to power small-scale electronic devices indefinitely. JTC Corporation has innovatively harnessed new technologies in rubbish capping, land fill gas mitigation and implemented creative engineering solutions for ground improvement in the Lorong Halus project, Singapore’s first large-scale project to convert old rubbish filling ground to industrial land. From providing alternative energy sources to creating new land for Singapore, our engineers all play a significant role in laying a better future for Singapore.

It is not just the established engineers who have done well. The young winners of the IES Design Awards have shown that they can also, despite their age, make a difference to the lives of people. I am heartened to hear of the passion of our winners today in channeling their youthful creativity to extend help to those who need it the most; specifically, the elderly and handicapped. One of the winning teams has created an Android application that detects the movement of patients with difficulty balancing themselves during physiotherapy sessions and recommends exercises to benefit these patients. Another team has devised a walking frame that suits stairs and steps of varying heights and widths to maximise stability and safety. There is also another team that has invented an intelligent medication scheduler to ensure the elderly takes their medication in the right dosage and on time. It is indeed encouraging to see how our students are, from a young age, already actively involved in such productive innovation. I hope all our young winners can keep up this passion to innovate and enhance the lives of people in need.

Conclusion

To the winning teams of the IES Prestigious Engineering Achievement Awards, thank you for contributing to the well-being of our people and communities by accomplishing outstanding engineering projects. To the young winners of the IES Design Awards, you should be proud of yourself for using what you have learnt at school to make a difference to the lives of the elderly and handicapped. I hope you can keep up this passion to innovate and improve the lives of people around us.

In closing, I wish all students a fruitful and enjoyable experience over these two days and the organisers a successful event.

Thank you.

Speech by Mr Heng Swee Keat at the Worldskills Singapore 2014 Closing Ceremony

Introduction

I am very happy to be here with you at the WorldSkills Closing Ceremony to share in your anticipation and joy. I see many anxious faces waiting to find out whether you will be national champions in your skill areas. I am also excited to find out the results, but I think that each and every one of you is already a winner in some ways.

You have been chosen to represent your polytechnics and ITE colleges in the WorldSkills Singapore Competition. This fact attests to you having achieved a certain level of excellence in your craft. You have trained hard, you have risen to the challenge, and you have shown the discipline and resilience that will set you to achieve many other great things in life. I want to congratulate every one of you, and the many people involved in the organisation of this Competition - lecturers, staff and judges, as well as the sponsors.

‘I Create Wonders with my Skills’

WorldSkills provides an excellent platform to recognise and celebrate skills excellence among youths in Singapore. But some of you may ask - what do I do with skills? The obvious answer is - you can get a good job and go on to achieve your aspirations. This year’s theme adds something more than jobs - ‘I Create Wonders with my Skills’ - that is, skills enable you to create new things and new wonders.

WorldSkills has provided many opportunities for young Singaporeans to discover their flair for creating - be it tantalising dishes, smart automation, new ways to connect with technology, or other innovations that will make a difference in the lives of others. Over the course of the competition, our youths pitted their skills against one another in areas that required them to do a variety of things: setting up a CNC milling machine, designing a relay logic control, installing a fibre distribution enclosure, designing an integrated software system, and implementing an integrated care plan for clients. We are proud of what you have achieved with your skills. Many youths of your age would not imagine themselves to be capable of such creations or be aware of their aptitude for skills, but we are proud that you have stepped up to the challenge.

Becoming masters in your craft

Skills are valuable for you to pursue your dreams and passions, and together, a nation of people with deep skills will enable us to achieve success together. As technology improves, deeper skills are needed. This will occur in many areas of our society and our economy.

I have shared this story from America before about the importance of skills. It was highlighted in one of the international papers, where one of the companies was looking for someone to take up on the job of an Excel programmer. The person who won the job was not someone with lots of paper qualifications, but it turned out it was a cashier from Walmart. This lady wanted to learn new skills and enrolled in a night class to learn Excel programming. When selecting the new employee, the company set a skills test - who was the person who could programme this better and faster than anyone else. This lady turned out to be the best in that particular skill, beating many others with experience and qualifications, but without that deep skill in that particular area. That was the reason why she was able to get the job.

You have built for yourselves a strong skills foundation. Don’t waste your training. Keep deepening your skills, stay relevant and keep up with changes. Persevere in working towards becoming masters in your craft. My hope is for you not just to use your skills to create wonders, but also, to improve the way we do things and improve our society.

SMS is chairing the Applied Study in Polytechnics and ITE Review (ASPIRE) Committee. I have been following the deliberations of the Committee. There are some important and interesting proposals that have been put forward. I can assure you that the Government is committed to ensuring that polytechnic and ITE education, which we are very proud of and is one of the jewels of our education system, remains attractive, and that it enables our young children to learn deep skills and expertise, not just in our polytechnics and ITE, but in their areas of work.

Several nights ago, I spoke at the Singapore Human Resource Awards Presentation Gala, and I want to congratulate ITE for winning an award three times, so much so that ITE is now called an HR Champion. This is an excellent example of how our own lecturers and staff in the polytechnics and ITE must continue to deepen skills and develop themselves.

At the dinner event, I spoke about why on-the-job learning is so important. We can have all sorts of simulations in the class, and indeed we do a lot of that to accelerate the learning of our students. But at the end of the day, what better place to apply your skills and knowledge and to develop all sorts of soft and hard skills than the workplace itself? No simulation can replicate all the conditions in the workplace. The many people you might have seen who have done well in their careers are those who are deeply committed to what they do and to learning day in day out, every day on the job. It is a great learning experience. I would like to encourage all of us, especially our young students who are starting their careers, to consider this very seriously - how to turn everyday tasks in the workplace into a learning opportunity, and how to make sure that the boundary between school and work is blurred and not such a distinct change, and that the workplace is also a learning place.

So, I am looking forward to the recommendations from the ASPIRE Committee. I think there are many important things that we have to do to continue to make ITE an attractive and valuable one that will prepare our young people well for the challenges of the 21st century. There are many more skills that you will have to learn and build on.

Conclusion

Let me conclude by saying that all our competitors here are winners. In your own ways, you have achieved excellence in what you do. And I challenge you to continue to pursue excellence, to push the boundaries, and become masters in your craft. And I hope that in return you will inspire many young people to follow in your footsteps.

To all winners and competitors here, I wish you all the very best. For those of you who are chosen, and then go on to represent Singapore at the WorldSkills Competition at São Paulo, Brazil, I wish you all the very best. I would like to see you do very well for yourselves and for Singapore.

Thank you.

Start of 2014 School Placement Exercise For Returning Singaporeans

School Placement Exercise

The 2014 School Placement Exercise for Returning Singaporeans (SPERS) is open for registration from 14 July 2014 for Singaporean children who are returning from overseas and wish to join our secondary schools, junior colleges (JC) or Millennia Institute (MI) at the beginning of academic year 2015. The registration can be done online at the following links:

SPERS is a centralised placement exercise held at the end of the year for Returning Singaporeans (RS). With SPERS, Singaporean parents working abroad can look forward to easier re-entry into the mainstream school system for their children when they return to Singapore. RS children will only need to sit for one set of centralised SPERS tests for school admission.

RS children seeking admission to Secondary (Sec) 1 to 3 in 2015 can take the SPERS-Sec tests on 1 Oct 2014. RS seeking admission to Pre-University (Pre-U) 1 can take the SPERS-JC/MI tests on 20 Nov 2014. As Sec 4 and Pre-U 2 are national examination years, RS generally would not re-join at these levels. Applicants will receive their school placement results in December 2014 and will be able to join our secondary schools and JC/MI at the start of the school term in early 2015.

Supplementary Placement Exercise

For RS who are unable to return in time to take the SPERS-Sec tests in October 2014, MOE will also conduct a Supplementary Placement Exercise in December 2014 to facilitate their admission into our secondary schools. The centralised tests for the Supplementary Placement Exercise will be held in late December 2014 and applicants will receive their school placement results in early February 2015 for school admissions from February 2015. Registration for the Supplementary Placement Exercise will open in October 2014.

While RS can choose to take part in either the SPERS-Sec or the Supplementary Placement Exercise, RS are advised to register for SPERS-Sec if they are able to return in October as their children would benefit from starting the academic year 2015 in January together with their peers.

Information/Registration Website

Details of the 2014 SPERS-Sec and SPERS-JC/MI exercises and the Supplementary Placement Exercise can be found in the Annex. For more details and registration, please refer to the MOE RS website at http://www.moe.gov.sg/education/admissions/returning-singaporeans/ or contact us at the following:

MOE Customer Service Centre
1 North Buona Vista Drive
Email: MOE_RETURNHOME@MOE.GOV.SG
Tel: 6872 2220

RS who are unable to participate in the centralised placement exercises may wish to refer to the MOE RS website or contact MOE for other options for school admission.

RS seeking admission to primary schools may approach MOE at any time of the year for assistance. MOE will offer the RS a place in a primary school with vacancies near the child’s home at a level appropriate for the child’s age cohort. The RS will not have to sit for any placement test for admission, although the primary school may conduct assessment tests after admission to ascertain the child’s current attainment level and provide the appropriate assistance to help the child settle into the school.

Speech by Ms Indranee Rajah at the Opening Ceremony of the 2014 Hwa Chong Asia-Pacific Young Leaders Summit

First, I am delighted to join all of you here today at the 2014 Hwa Chong Asia-Pacific Young Leaders Summit (HC-APYLS). This is the eighth year that Hwa Chong Institution has organised this international Summit. Today, we have, in this auditorium, gathered some of the world’s finest youth leaders - from 12 countries across four continents - all here to discuss issues that are going to help change the world for better. To all our friends who have come from afar, welcome to Singapore!

Igniting Change, Igniting Hope

The theme for this year’s Summit is “Igniting Change, Igniting Hope”. Now more than ever, we recognise that today’s interconnected world will be increasingly characterised by volatility, uncertainty and complexity. Change, be it big or small, in political, economic, social, technological or environmental arenas, may turn out to be for the better or it may not.

Change can come from any corner of the world. One example is Cassandra Lin. Combining her desire to help both the environment and her community in Rhode Island, in the US, she set up a team that distributed biodiesel to families requiring emergency heating assistance in the cold of winter. Called Project TGIF (Turning Grease Into Fuel), her team lobbied her town council to set up a grease receptacle that, through an innovative process, converted the waste cooking oil into biodiesel. Since then, they have helped draft and introduce a bill that required all businesses in Rhode Island to recycle their grease. Now, the project is expanding into other towns and cities in Rhode Island and neighbouring Connecticut.]

Another example is Ann Makosinski, who was born to two HAM radio enthusiasts, and who liked to tinker with electronics. The 16-year-old high schooler in Canada was inspired by the plight of a friend in the Philippines, who could not complete her homework and was failing in school because she was supposed to study at night but had no electricity at home. Using thermoelectric tiles, she created a flashlight running on body heat alone. For her invention, she won the Google Science Fair 2013 prize for her age group. Her breakthrough certainly changes the way we view power. Literally and figuratively, we have the power to be a shining light to inspire others.

Change can also come about from unexpected quarters. Closer to home, we have 19-year-old Audric Ping Wei Xiang, the winner of Singapore’s inaugural National Young Leader Award in 2013 1. Audric lost his mother to breast cancer when he was 14, and three months later, he lost his beloved grandmother to stroke. Both women had been constant pillars of support in his life, and their deaths hit him hard, it affected his studies and leaving him not knowing who to turn to. Despite these setbacks, Audric decided to pull himself together. He had been training in karate since he was nine and he pressed on to earn a spot on the national karate team, gearing up to represent Singapore in the 2015 Southeast Asian Games. In the same year that he lost his loved ones, Audric also began coaching students in karate at four schools on a voluntary basis. After reading about the fatal New Delhi gang-rape, he volunteered to teach women self-defence at workshops organised by the Singapore Karate Federation. Audric is an example of the importance of not losing hope because positive change is possible, even for the ‘ordinary’ guy. Passing along this spirit, Audric currently also volunteers with a community group that regularly organises engagement sessions for seniors in his community.

Looking for inspiration, many of us tend to look to the past for our heroes or heroines. And no doubt, the brightness in the horizon is made ever visible by the proverbial giants on whose shoulders we stand. However, as can be seen with the examples of Ann and Audric, compared to the giants, young people of today can also effect change and give hope. With access to the powers of education and the Internet as well as with guidance and help from counsellors and peers, youths now have the chance to grapple with challenges at a personal, local or even global level.

With Bravery and Confidence

Responding well to challenges, however, is easier said than done. One way is for us to become more sensitive in our vision. Amidst the uncertainty, it is easy to be drawn towards the loudest and biggest bonfires of change. However, we must be prepared to dig beneath the surface, to put our assumptions, plans and efforts under examination, and discern if the direction in which we are heading is correct. This takes a certain amount of courage - squaring up to what has not gone our way, and devising new paths to move past obstacles and mistakes.

With Compassion and Empathy

World youth literacy rates continue to improve, as UNESCO published its latest findings in September 2013, placing the total youth literacy rate at 89.5%.Even as more of our youths are getting empowered through education, it is vital to ensure that the confidence that it brings does not engender the unsavoury characteristics of over-confidence. This generation of millennials has been alleged by some to be ego-centric and self-indulgent, with an inflated sense of self-entitlement. I do not expect that anybody identifies with that, and I do not agree with that for this generation. I think youths like Ann and Audric give us hope with their empathy for the plight of others and a desire to do something for their fellow men. As you, our young generation, become better equipped to deal with our problems of today, this sense of empathy is just as important to give purpose to your power, and direction to your drive. There are no young leaders. There are only leaders. The present is much too urgent to wait for the future. For those charged with the duty of leadership, do remember what Helen Keller said, which is: “Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.” As leaders, the way ahead will be at times dark, but empathy will find you friends and, together, your combined will shines a light.

Conclusion

Over the next few days in your working groups and dialogue sessions, I hope that you will take advantage of opportunities to make lasting friendships and bonds, learn from one another and sustain open and fruitful dialogues. Do face up to the inevitable setbacks that will come your way. Take inspiration from each other as well as notable examples that you learn about as you go along. And take back with you the learnings and exchanges and share further with your peers when you return home.

I congratulate Hwa Chong Institution for their good work in the organisation of this Summit and I wish everyone here a fulfilling experience. Thank you.

Footnote
  1. Launched in 2013 by Halogen Foundation (Singapore), a non-profit youth organisation, the National Young Leader Award seeks to recognise young leaders from 15 to 19 years old, who are involved, engaged, and have conviction in the things they do, regardless of their academic achievements. The award nominees are evaluated based on both scoring from a panel and an inventory toolkit as well as online public voting.

Speech (in Chinese) by Ms Sim Ann at the Launch of Bilingual Exhibition

大家早上好!我很高兴受邀为华校校友会联合会举办的“2014年华校校史展: 消失的华校”主持开幕。

新加坡明年将庆祝建国50周年,社会各界正踊跃筹备各项纪念活动,回顾新加坡如何从一个毫无天然资源的小岛发展成为今天的繁华都市。华校校友会联合会举办这次的展览会可说是恰逢其时。通过展览和主办方出版的特刊,我相信可以让国人对于华校在新加坡的教育史上所扮演的角色有更好的认识。

新加坡自开埠以来,便是一个多元种族、多元文化的移民社会。先辈为了生活,离乡背井来到这个小岛。除了解决温饱,他们也极力渴望通过教育,更好地培育下一代。因此,早在新加坡独立、设立国家教育体系之前,我们的各个社群已自动自发,出钱出力,筹集资源,设立学校,为下一代的教育辛勤耕耘。

许多传统华校是在这个时代背景下产生的。传统华校普遍重视人才的培育,也致力于道德价值的传承。华校的文化特色,为新加坡早年多元化教育体系增添风采,也为我国人民留下了许多宝贵的精神资产。

随着时代的变迁,我国教育体系也经历了整合与发展。虽然已有不少的传统华校已经成为历史,但是它们对于新加坡教育的贡献仍然值得我们肯定和怀念。尤其是许多传统华校所重视的德育,也通过新的方式在教育体系中得以传承。最新的品格与公民教育课程中的核心价值观就包括了尊重他人、坚韧不拔、富有责任感、正直向上、关怀别人与和睦共处等。学校通过个人、家庭、学校、社区、国家和世界这六个层面引导学生体现各种价值观。新的课程不仅培养品格和公民意识,同时也确立个人对家庭、社会与国家的观念,这与传统华校一路来秉承的价值观是一致的。

为了让新加坡年轻一代更了解华校的历史,让今天的学生领会从前办学的艰难困顿,从而珍惜现在;主办当局动员了50名中学生和大学生,访问了55位当年的华校生,详细记录了当日他们就学的真实面貌。在翻阅特刊的时候,我很高兴看到一段有关武德学校的描述。我属于南洋沈氏公会,武德学校便是公会由1956至1981年间曾经办过的一所学校。“武德”这个名字取自沈氏的一位祖先,曾在宋代被追封为武德候。据我了解,学校当时资源有限,招生有困难,后来和许多其他民办的华校一样,步入历史了。尽管如此,它毕竟是公会曾经投入心血和热忱经营的学堂,因此沈氏公会的宗亲们还是时常会缅怀它。

这次展览会,相信可以让许多来自华校的长辈们重温求学时代的珍贵记忆,并让前来参观展览的年轻一代,更深刻地体会先辈们对教育的付出和执着。希望年轻人能通过认识昨天,珍惜现在,为新加坡未来50年的发展作出贡献。

谢谢大家。

Speech by Mr Heng Swee Keat at the Singapore Human Resource (HR) Awards 2014 Presentation Gala

Thank you for inviting me to join you this evening. My heartiest congratulations to all award recipients for being first-in-class in human resource management. I am happy to celebrate your achievements with you. I feel a strong connection in a room full of HR people, because we are basically in the same line of work - we are both in the business of bringing out the best in our people.

My MOE colleagues and I bring out the best in our students in schools; all of you do so with the teams in your companies at the workplace. When our students go from being our students, to becoming your team members, that step for them should be smooth, natural and upwards - it is all part of one lifelong journey of aspiring, learning and achieving. So actually tonight I see a room full of not only captains of industry and Singapore’s best in the field of HR, but a room full of people developers, of teachers at the workplace.

Success Lies in Lifelong Learning

You may know that I am on the SG50 Steering Committee. I have been thinking a lot about not just our last 50 years, but much more about our next 50 years. I am especially interested in what allows some societies or nations to last and to succeed. I am sure all of you spend a lot of time too investigating the secret of success of the world’s best companies and organisations.

The answer often lies in the fact that they do many things right. What undergirds this ability is that, as individuals and teams, they never stop learning. Every day, in real time, in real life, they learn, unlearn, relearn, and they put that learning into practice.

I have been meeting many of our pioneer generation of educators. Every one of you knows them, you were taught by them. They are a really impressive generation, given the duty of shaping a nation in our earliest days when we had very little by way of resources or curriculum. Many of our pioneer educators had to make things up as they went, some of them in makeshift classrooms, some of them doing everything from teaching multiple subjects to helping villagers write letters to chasing chickens out of the classroom, some of them going deep into the kampungs to reach their students.

I know, in your industries, you face today’s version of these challenges. You all need to innovate as you go in an ever-shifting world. When I ask our pioneer educators, what did it take to make it through those days, I always hear, in their modest way, “We were learning all the way. We just learn and we try along the way.” Yet what an impact they have had, simply by being ever-ready to learn and practise. This is the common refrain from educators, business leaders, people who are the best in their field is this: they struggle with real-life, real-time challenges where there are no textbook answers, they experiment with solutions, they learn something new and they practise what they learn. They are streetsmart, because they learn literally on the street. They are fully absorbed, fully involved lifelong learners.

We Need a Breakthrough in Lifelong Learning

So, how do we live this same pioneering, learning spirit today?

One way is to go back to school. In Singapore, we have quite a strong tendency to turn to schools and learning institutions when we want to learn more, because, as a people, we associate learning so closely with what happens in the classroom, and with acquiring credentials. These are important. It is why we have many excellent formalised programmes, and why people take further studies seriously. Today, business schools, trade schools, commercial trainers, online institutes have codified large swathes of knowledge. This theory is packaged in compact, compressed forms to help people learn quickly. Technology also allows people to learn more efficiently. Many of the institutionalised learning opportunities available to us today, our pioneers did not have. It makes sense to make the most of these resources.

But in-class courses have some limitations. The first is that we may not be able to truly and fully apply what we learn in class, to life and to work outside of class. Educators call this transfer of learning. A telling example of this is the OECD’s recent Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), where they analyse the level, distribution, and utilisation of skills among adults around the world. They found that some countries like Japan are strong in fundamentals like reading and mathematics, compared to other countries like the US where their literacy and numeracy skills are weaker. However, when it comes to how well the skills learnt in school are used, the US beat many other countries.

What this says to me is that ultimately, what matters is not just what we know, but how we use what we know. This is the shortcoming of book learning alone. Learning needs to be put to practice, and practice needs to inform learning. What we want is a total environment - comprising the classroom, the workplace, the whole society’s culture - that encourages, enables, and rewards learning throughout one’s Lifetime. This is a critical success factor of lifelong learning.

Another limitation of in-class learning alone is it can seldom truly replicate the dynamics of the workplace. If you think about it, business schools come up with case studies, medical schools have simulations, military schools have exercises, many vocational and professional institutes have practicums of some sort. All of these are really ways to mimic the complexities of the real workplace. All these are important and useful. But none of them can ever fully replicate the conditions of the workplace. Furthermore, if you are the only person to go for studies, what you learn remains alien to your other team members. It’s harder for you to practise what you have learnt, and for learning to be transferred. Practice makes perfect. And practice needs a context, and people to practise with.

So, besides trying hard to replicate the workplace in the classroom, we must make better use of what we already have, and what better place to learn than at the workplace itself? Indeed, in most contexts, the best place to do practical, applicable learning is really the workplace. Each day at work offers an opportunity unlike any other to learn on-the-job. I think we need to make a skills and learning breakthrough in Singapore - we must place just as much, if not more, emphasis on learning outside the classroom, in other words, learning on-the-job. The breakthrough must be to make this opportunity concrete and meaningful for every worker - every person coming to work must have the opportunity to learn, substantially and continually, on the job. We must be bold about experimenting new ways to make the workplace a learning place. We should blur the boundary between learning in school and learning in life.

Let me share with you what we are trying in our schools. Here, I am talking about our schools as workplaces, and our teachers as people who themselves engage in lifelong learning. In our schools, we have the Professional Learning Community, action research, peer observation, teacher mentors - these are all ways in which we help our teachers to continually learn on the job. The best teachers are the ones who are continually learning. It was true of our pioneer educators, and true of our teachers today too. We hence have many initiatives to develop reflective practitioners in our schools. They translate theoretical lessons into practices and results. And for our students, we will be introducing the Applied Learning and Learning for Life Programmes in all our secondary schools by 2017. I believe this total approach supports our teachers to be reflective leaner-do-ers, and contributes towards Singapore students being very strong in real world skills like problem-solving. There is more that we can do and learn.

I’m sure our schools have a lot to learn from all of you too. I would love to hear your stories and experiences. If we want to make significant change, I hope we can learn together, to make learning in the workplace much more extensive. As employees, we need to become reflective practitioners, not just do-ers, but learner do-ers. As supervisors, we need to be nurturing mentors. On-the-job learning lets you match what your employees are doing and learning directly with your strategy and operations. The mentoring process builds bonds and esprit de corps in your teams. It helps your staff to progress in their skills and do a better job. In turn, you can better reward and retain your teams, creating a virtuous cycle. Companies that do not promote on-the-job learning are losing an opportunity.

I understand, this can be challenging for our SMEs. I’m glad that SHRI is working with ASME, and I applaud our SMEs who have the vision to make on-the-job learning a priority.

I have been visiting some other countries where on-the-job learning is a part of the culture. When I was in the Netherlands, I was really struck to see that over half their companies are approved training centres. They take on-the-job training very seriously, and these companies are approved by their Education Ministry to be training centres. These centres have dedicated mentors from the companies. They also get a direct advantage because they can focus on deepening the skills of their teams. Some of our companies are doing such work. What we need to do is to make this much more extensive.

This is one of the things we are looking at in the Applied Study in the Polytechnics and ITE Review, or ASPIRE, Committee. You may know that, since the beginning of this year, together with our students and their families, our Institutes of Higher Learning, and many industry representatives, we have been doing extensive consultation and deep thinking on how to make a skills and learning breakthrough in Singapore. We have been hearing repeatedly from students and employers that this is indeed important to you, that on-the-job learning is an integral part of lifelong learning. I will be happy to hear from you too about your experiences and ideas about how we can work together to make this breakthrough.

To summarise, I believe we need a skills and learning breakthrough in Singapore. Learning must be lifelong, and learning must be lifesmart. To be lifelong is to spread learning throughout one’s life. Learning ought to happen not just in our early years, just in school, but at work, throughout life, every chance we get. To be lifesmart is to go beyond booksmarts, and even beyond streetsmarts - it is to put booksmarts to practical, impactful use, in a streetsmart way, making full use of the complexities of real-life challenges to stimulate continual learning and growth. If we can work together to create a total environment for everyone to be a Lifelong, and Lifesmart, Learner, we can make a skills and learning breakthrough.

Conclusion

Bringing out the best in our people is something all of you in HR instinctively do. It is something the Government, schools and employers must work on together. I want to assure you that the Government is serious about supporting you too, to make this breakthrough in on-the-job learning.

l commend SHRI for raising the level of excellence in the HR profession, and especially for working with our SMEs. The number of awards you give out really speaks to the good work SHRI and all of you have been doing. Of course, I am most interested in the “Leading HR Practices in Learning and Human Capital Award”.

To all the awardees, congratulations again. To all of the hardworking HR practitioners here tonight, your work is very important and I wish you success in bringing out the best in your people.

Thank you.

Opportunities for Polytechnic and ITE students to upgrade

Response

The government has been increasing opportunities for ITE and polytechnic graduates to pursue further studies at the polytechnics and universities respectively.

The proportion of ITE graduates progressing to full-time diploma programmes at the polytechnics has increased from about one in ten in 1995 to more than one in four today. Aside from providing more places, MOE also introduced the Direct-Entry-Scheme to Polytechnic Programme (DPP) in 2013 with an initial intake of more than 950 students. This allows well-performing Secondary 4 Normal (Academic) students to progress directly from ITE to a polytechnic, instead of spending the year in Secondary 5.

The proportion of places at our Autonomous Universities held by polytechnic graduates has also increased, from around 20% in Academic Year (AY) 2009 to about 30% in AY2013.

In 2009, the Taskforce on Expanding Upgrading Opportunities for Polytechnic Graduates recommended the establishment of the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) to partner overseas universities in creating more degree opportunities for the polytechnic students. In 2012, the Committee on University Education Pathways Beyond 2015 (CUEP) recommended that the degree Cohort Participation Rate (CPR) be raised from 30% in 2015 to 40% by 2020. The additional places provided through SIT and SIM University as applied degree pathways are intended to benefit our polytechnic graduates. As part of these changes, SIT also became Singapore’s fifth Autonomous University this year, offering a distinct approach to degree education that caters to a wider spectrum of preferences and abilities.

We recognise that progression is important to polytechnic and ITE graduates. Obtaining diploma or degree qualifications are not the only means to progress in one’s career. While the government has been increasing progression opportunities for polytechnic and ITE graduates who wish to upgrade immediately, MOE is also developing multiple pathways that offer viable upgrading alternatives. For example, polytechnic and ITE graduates may work first and pursue further studies later or progress through professional certifications and training. The Applied Study in Polytechnics and ITE Review (ASPIRE) Committee is currently reviewing measures to deepen the quality of the polytechnic and ITE education and to further enhance career prospects and progression opportunities for polytechnic and ITE graduates.

Competition framework for inter-school games

Response

The annual National School Games is organised by the schools sports councils for all its members, which include all government schools, government-aided schools, independent schools, privately funded schools, and specialised independent schools such as School of the Arts (SOTA), NUS High and the Singapore Sports School. It provides a platform for all athletes, regardless of which school they come from, to compete and be part of a shared learning experience.

The Sports School competes in less than half of the 28 sports that are offered at the NSG. Where appropriate, the Sports School deliberately sends relatively junior players to compete in the NSGs, as part of their development. Based on last year’s competitions, a total of 110 championships were organised for the ‘B’ and ‘C’ Divisions, which caters to students from all secondary schools. Sports School contested in 46 of these championships and won 16 National titles. While this is a good performance, it also shows that other schools can also perform well when pitted against the Sports School.

Learning to lose graciously and win honourably is integral to character development. Strong teams in the National School Games raise the playing standards of our students, and provide valuable learning opportunities for teams to hone their mental strength, play intelligently, bond and to experience both successes and failures. In this light, the Sports School’s participation in the National School Games has raised the overall level of competition while providing its student-athletes the opportunity to be part of a shared learning experience together with athletes from other schools.

It takes great courage to face off strong opponents, whether they are teams from Sports School or other schools. On the ground, we see many instances of such courage from our students. Hong Kah Secondary, for instance, has a strong football culture, and its school football teams, have in the last three years, consistently finished among the top four at the Nationals. In fact, its ‘C’ Division team won the National Title in the last two years, an outstanding feat for a sport that is contested by more than half of our schools, including Sports School.

The schools sports councils will continue to monitor and review the inter-school competitions and will take appropriate measures when necessary to ensure that the National School Games fulfils our educational objectives.

Every School A Good School

Response

As emphasised in the 2014 Committee of Supply Debate on MOE and in MOE’s Addendum to the President’s Address this year, we are deeply committed to making Every School A Good School - one that caters to the needs of its students, creates a positive learning experience for each student, enables teachers to be caring educators, and fosters supportive partnerships with parents and the community.

To support this, we are encouraging and supporting schools to develop rich learning programmes that will cater to our students’ diverse talents and interests. Each of our secondary schools is working towards developing an Applied Learning Programme (ALP) and a Learning for Life Programme (LLP) by 2017. This will create a diverse and colourful landscape of secondary schools with distinctive and authentic programmes that enable students to apply knowledge and develop life skills. MOE supports schools in the development and implementation of the ALP and LLP. Each secondary school will receive $50,000 per year for each programme or $100,000 per year in total.

MOE continues to ensure that all our schools are well-resourced to provide a holistic education for their students.

  • Schools are equipped with the facilities needed. We are also upgrading facilities across 71 more primary schools in the next few years.
  • All schools receive a range of funds for their school operations and programmes. MOE adopts a needs-based approach to the provision of funds. For schools with more students on financial assistance, their Opportunity Fund quantum would be proportionately adjusted. The Opportunity Fund has enabled Singaporean students from less advantaged backgrounds to participate and benefit from the co-curricular and enrichment activities organised by the schools.

Beyond funding and infrastructure, at the heart of every school is a core of teachers who lead, care and inspire. Our educators are at the forefront of our drive to make Every School A Good School.

  • We are introducing Student Development Teams where Year Heads are appointed to safeguard the quality of school experience and learning opportunities of each level of students. By 2016, all schools will have Student Development Teams.
  • We are strengthening professional development and improving instructional practices across schools. The Academy of Singapore Teachers is leading this, assisted by other professional platforms and specialised teacher academies.
  • More teachers are deployed to support levelling-up programmes for low progress learners, such as the Learning Support Programme (LSP) for English and Learning Support for Maths (LSM).

Finally, a good school fosters supportive partnership with parents and the community. Since 2014, schools have received an annual top-up of the Parent Support Group (PSG) Fund to enable them to organise a variety of parent engagement and parent education programmes.

We already have a strong education system with a good level of achievement across all the schools. Going forward, MOE will continue to strengthen the system and enable all our schools to deliver a student-centric, values-driven education. We will continue to invest in our schools and support our teachers. In doing so, we will have a wide range of good schools that bring out the best in every child.

National Honours for Inspirational Young Educators

Five young teachers received the Outstanding Youth in Education Award (OYEA) from Mr Heng Swee Keat, Minister for Education, at the National Institute of Education (NIE) Teachers’ Investiture Ceremony on 9 July 2014. They are:

  • Miss Gidwani Poojalal, 31, from Haig Girls’ School;
  • Mdm Nur Ain Binte Ahmad, 34, from Park View Primary School;
  • Ms Lin Xiaojun, 28, from Chestnut Drive Secondary School;
  • Mr Mohamed Ashiq Bin Mohamed Elias, 34, from Pasir Ris Secondary School; and
  • Miss Khairiah Bte Hairoman, 34, from Peirce Secondary School.

Selected from 14 finalists, the five winners strongly believe that education is about nurturing the child holistically. They have sought to nurture all-rounded individuals through their lessons and interaction with students. These teachers have also distinguished themselves by adopting innovative approaches both in and outside the classroom, as well as demonstrating dedication in stretching their students’ potential. Please refer to Annex A for more information on the award winners.

The OYEA is a national award that recognises young teachers for their commendable enthusiasm, energy and active involvement in youth development. Since its inception in 1999, 49 outstanding young educators, including this year’s winners, have received the award.

The OYEA winners were selected by the OYEA Selection Panel, comprising representatives from the Ministry of Education, the National Institute of Education, and the National Youth Council. A total of 4,549 nominations from the schools and members of the public were received for 911 teachers from 216 schools in 2014.

Besides honouring the achievements of young educators, OYEA aims to inspire youths that teaching is a fulfilling profession. Besides receiving a trophy and citation certificate, all the OYEA winners will be fully sponsored to attend an overseas professional development programme. The list of the 2014 finalists and details of OYEA are in Annex B.

Speech by Mr Heng Swee Keat at the NIE Teachers’ Investiture Ceremony

Thank you for inviting me to join you on this special day. Your teachers and your loved ones are proud of you. Let’s take a moment to thank all the guides, mentors, and supporters who have made today possible.

I am especially proud to join you at this Teachers’ Investiture Ceremony - not just for the people you have grown to be, or the people you will go on to be, but for the many people who will themselves grow to achieve their dreams, because of you. A teacher’s job is different from all other jobs - you are in the profession of shaping lives. When you do your job with skill and with heart, your impact is immeasurable.

Care for Our Students

Let me share a story from a student’s viewpoint. I almost met a young man recently whose story shows just what a teacher can do. I say “almost met” because it was at his graduation ceremony, where, amidst the crowd, we never got a chance to talk. But this young man was so determined, he wrote me a long note afterwards. He told me, when he was young, he played truant, got into fights, almost flunked his PSLE. He started in an EM3 class because he was a weak student. His family was very poor and his parents were illiterate. They were in no position to help him. He went to the Normal (Technical) stream, then worked his way to ITE, polytechnic, and then to the Singapore Institute of Technology. In SIT, he was an active student leader. He has just got his degree from the DigiPen Institute of Technology, one of the best in animation, and he has a good job now where he likes his company and his company really values him.

Reading his email, I was intrigued and I asked him: “Who made a difference in your life?” This time, he sent me an even longer email. That email was very touching to me because he detailed every single teacher from primary school through SIT, how so many people made a difference in his life, and he remembered every one of them by name. One of them, Mr Soh, taught him Math in lower secondary. In his letter, he wrote: “Mr Soh told the class that he would give a remedial lesson but it ended up that I was the only one who went. Mr Soh said, ‘Even if you’re the only student, I will still teach’.” Today, this young man says, “If I meet any young person today who wants my help, I will give him all my time. Because someone else did it for me.”

He is a remarkable young man. I am not sharing his name because I have not had his permission. But I think you, as teachers, may find this interesting. In primary school, his personal ethos was this: “I stole and I fought and I lied. But there was one thing I would never do. I would never fail to greet my teachers. No matter how naughty I was, I always showed respect to my teachers.”

In fact, one time in secondary school, he got into trouble for fighting. When he was being disciplined for it, he was very agitated. But it wasn’t because he wanted to get out of punishment. He blurted out, “It’s Teachers’ Day!” In his schoolbag (which had hardly any books in it), he had Teachers’ Day cards for his old primary school teachers, and he was in a hurry to rush back to his old primary school to pass them the cards in person before the school day ended.

I think any teacher would feel inspired to meet such a student. Indeed, it is the privilege of the teacher to be able to shape lives in such a deep way. I was very struck by the number of teachers who made such a difference to this young man’s life. Each them probably did not realise at the time how profoundly, and positively, they were shaping him. This is one thing that training alone cannot bring about. It takes heart, care, a deep sense of duty, and an even deeper sense of responsibility that as teachers, you have a unique power to bring something to the lives of our students, in a way that helps each child get the better of his personal challenges, in a way that brings out the best in every child.

Not only the children, but their families, and the larger community, place faith in our teachers to do your very best for the children. This young man shows his faith by honouring his teachers no matter what - I think it is a faith well-placed, but it is also a faith that our teaching fraternity must continually earn, through the way we care and do our best for our students. I have faith you will do your best.

Care for Our Teachers

Now, while the work of a teacher is very exciting and inspiring, it can also be very challenging. In some aspects of your work, there are very clear boundaries, for example pertaining to duties and professional relationships with students and colleagues. These are absolutely clear and you must work within these boundaries. But there are other areas where boundaries are less clear, for example how much time to spend when you want to do your best for every student. Let me share some thoughts, if it can help you be the best teachers you can possibly be.

My first thought is this: you must take good care of yourselves, even as you care for your students. First, learn to draw a professional boundary. With the caring teachers I have met, the greatest challenge is not about timetables, or marking, or even the handful of unreasonable parents with unreasonable demands or complaints. With the caring teachers I’ve met, the greater challenge is always about not being able to stop caring. I know of teachers who cannot sleep at night out of worry for some of their students, and teachers who will spend extra hours outside of work giving additional help to students. Just as you cannot stop a child who wants to learn, you cannot stop a teacher who wants to teach. But you must also learn to make enough time for yourself, for your personal health and growth, so that you can be a better teacher to your students.

There is no rule on how to draw this line. For example, I cannot say to you, as soon as your last class of the day is over, you stop being a teacher. Teaching is a calling to be measured not semester by semester, not grade by grade, but life by life. If you ever find yourself beginning to count your work hour by hour, day by day, then I suggest you take a moment and ask yourself, will this next effort be of help to your students? Will it help them grow? Will it help them become better people? If the answer is yes, and you have the capacity, by all means, push the frontiers to be a better teacher. Teaching is an art and these are some of the lines you will draw and redraw throughout your career. It can prove challenging, especially for beginning teachers, but even for experienced ones. It is a question of balance, and that is why it is important to walk your teaching journey with trusted mentors and friends.

Second, always find the joy and purpose in what you do. You explored these questions in NIE courses such as Education Psychology, Social Context of Teaching and Learning, and Teaching Practicum. Once you start work, keep finding the mentors and peers who can boost your sense of joy and purpose in your work.

Third, keep learning and growing. You are graduating from NIE, and have earned your place amongst our education fraternity. Yet there is always room to grow. Keep the spirit of the curious student alive in yourself.

MOE is committed to supporting you in your learning journey. Every year, MOE awards the Postgraduate Scholarship (PGS) to outstanding Education Officers to deepen our teachers’ knowledge in key subjects and specialised areas. 57 officers will be receiving this scholarship today. Another 28 officers have been awarded the Postgraduate Award (PGA), which was introduced to provide more opportunities for our teachers to deepen your professional expertise. I encourage you to make the best use of these opportunities to hone your teacher’s craft.

These are my heartfelt tips to you, as a person who has worked many years. I personally draw inspiration from the many dedicated school leaders, teachers and MOE officers I meet every day. I wish for you the fortune of coming to work everyday with people who inspire and move you. When the work gets heavy, try out the advice I shared. Remember to take good care of yourselves, even as you continue to do your best for your students. MOE, the teaching fraternity, and our larger community will support you too.

Outstanding Educators - OYEA recipients

Our teachers, whether they have been part of the teaching fraternity for many years or just a few, touch the lives of students in ways big and small. Today, I am happy to honour five young teachers for their extraordinary work and for inspiring their students. The Outstanding Youth in Education Award (OYEA) this year goes to Miss Gidwani Poojalal from Haig Girls’ School; Mdm Nur Ain Binte Ahmad from Park View Primary School; Ms Lin Xiaojun from Chestnut Drive Secondary School; Mr Mohamed Ashiq Bin Mohamed Elias from Pasir Ris Secondary School; and Miss Khairiah Bte Hairoman from Peirce Secondary School.

Each OYEA teacher has his or her own way of bringing excellence into teaching. Gidwani has a passion for holistic development, Nur Ain is an excellent classroom practitioner, Xiaojun infuses her work with socio-emotional learning, Ashiq encourages the sharing of teaching strategies among teachers, and Khairiah pairs academic teaching with character development. Just as each child is different and has his own unique needs, there are many ways in which you can excel at bringing out the best in your students. My heartiest congratulations to the OYEA winners!

We have been giving out the OYEA for 15 years now. Teacher excellence is not a quirk - it is the standard - in our schools. Every year, many young teachers are put up for the award whose idealism and innovativeness give us much cause for hope. These young teachers show care for their students’ character and moral development while motivating, challenging and inspiring them to achieve their full potential. The ethos and enthusiasm of our OYEA recipients shows that our young teaching force is a strength in our education system. You, and our many other dedicated teachers, are the true face of our schools - I am very happy to celebrate your achievements.

Conclusion

Thinking back to the young man I talked about earlier on, I hope that you will have the opportunity, in your career, to make an impact -like the many teachers who have had an impact on this young man. I hope you will remember to treat yourselves and your fellow teachers with the same care you show your students. I hope you will find peers and mentors with whom you can share the joys and challenges that come with doing a job unlike any other. And I hope, one day, your students will write letters to future Education Ministers, filled with gratitude and respect, to name and thank all the teachers who helped them become all that they want to be.

Let me end by extending a warm welcome to all of you into our MOE family! Thank you.

Number of Singaporeans sponsored by AUs for doctoral studies in foreign universities

Response

Since 2008, the National University of Singapore (NUS) and Singapore Management University (SMU) have sponsored 17 and 3 Singapore Citizens respectively, for doctoral studies in foreign universities in academic disciplines such as Physical Sciences, Engineering and Technology, Humanities, Social Sciences and Education.

The Nanyang Technological University (NTU) has also sponsored Singaporeans for doctoral studies overseas, though it did not award any in the recent few years.

The Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) and Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) are new universities and have not provided any sponsorship for doctoral studies thus far.

While such sponsorship is one way for our Autonomous Universities to attract and develop Singaporeans as faculty members, the universities also recruit faculty members directly to meet their diverse needs. With the increasing stature of our Autonomous Universities, they have been able to attract qualified faculty members from all local and overseas universities, and these recruits include Singaporeans.

Syndicate content

Careers | Sitemap | Terms of Use | Contact Us | Co-Founder
© 2014 Knowledge Universe. All rights reserved.

  Subscribe to RSS Feed