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Speech by Mr Heng Swee Keat, Minister for Education, at “Pei Hwa Jubilee”, Pei Hwa Presbyterian Primary School’s 125th Anniversary.
Good evening. Thank you for inviting my wife and me to join in your celebrations for the 125th Anniversary of Pei Hwa Presbyterian Primary School.Pei Hwa Presbyterian Primary School’s Journey
125 years ago, an immigrant pastor from Swatow, Joseph Koh, driven by his passion for education, started a free school for the children in Bukit Timah. The school was named 马车路尾义学 - in English, it means “Road End Free School” - because it was sited at the end of a no-through road. The first cohort of students was all of 20.
Much has changed in 125 years, including the school’s name to Pei Hwa Primary School in 1922, and to Pei Hwa Presbyterian Primary in 1995 to reflect the school’s mission to nurture every child in his talent. Today, Pei Hwa’s enrolment is close to 2,000 students. The medium of instruction was changed from Teochew to Mandarin in the early 1900s, then to English in the early 1990s. An honourable register of Principals - Mr Tang Poh Keng, Pastor Quek Kin Hoon, Pastor Yap Kok Hu, Mr Wu Serk, Mrs Dinah Gan, Mrs Maria Phua, and Miss Chan Lai Peng - has taken the school from strength to strength over the years, making it a “pearl in the west”.
At the same time, much has not changed. Pei Hwa has stayed the course through some hard times, staying true to your founder’s vision of providing good basic education on a bedrock of strong values. The school at the road’s end has travelled a long road itself. Looking back on the last 125 years, we see much to inspire us about the road that lies ahead for Pei Hwa.A Broad and Deep Foundation for a Lifelong Journey of Life and Learning - the Pei Hwa Experience
Pei Hwa is one of our oldest primary schools, with a rich historical reputation. The Pei Hwa student is a responsible, forward-looking, diligent, well behaved, respectful individual anchored in strong values. He has care and concern for others. He wants to learn and enjoys learning. There is also the Pei Hwa Teacher, who is diligent, has strong team spirit, and works with all his heart for the students.
Loyalty, which is the school motto, is evident in teachers and alumni alike. Six teachers are former students, and some teachers stay as long as 30 to 40 years. Many former students also come back to help out at the school every year, and I am happy to see many former students here this evening.
With this rich history, Pei Hwa is well-placed to support MOE’s drive towards holistic education, and in providing students a broad and deep foundation for a lifelong journey of life and learning. Allow me to share a few examples.
Pei Hwa’s SAP flagship programme, the ‘Chinese Arts Programme’ (CAP), exposes all students from P1 to P6 to different visual and performing arts. Students hone their Chinese language skills, learn about Chinese culture and traditions, and inculcate sound values.
This has profoundly shaped Ashley Ng. Ashley, who is now in secondary school, used to feel stifled in class. Sensing his interest in creative expression, the school counsellor and other teachers encouraged Ashley to explore drama and stage performance. He joined the Chinese Society, where his public speaking and story-telling talents blossomed. With training, Ashley went on to really shine, winning many prizes and playing a lead role in school productions.
This is a broad educational foundation, where we recognise each child’s talents, and help him build up his strength to his fullest potential. But why don’t I let you experience this for yourself? Ashley will be performing later for us - I look forward to it!
A good school does not just help its students to stand out in their community; it guides them to also serve their community. Ng Yi Hsuan from P5 says, “The school has shaped my character, and leadership skills. Its programmes are really meaningful as they develop us beyond the academic.” A student leader, Yi Hsuan has been on character and leadership development programmes, and worked in teams to help Pei Hwa students come up with solutions to everyday problems.
Besides reflecting on their own values and skills with their Form Teachers, it is also a part of the Pei Hwa experience for students to be involved in charitable projects. Pei Hwa’s ‘Behavioural Awards Programme’ and ‘Every Pupil A Leader’ Programme’ give students like Yi Hsuan the chance to apply the values they learn, and affirm students’ exemplary characters through a recognition scheme. These experiences develop a deep foundation in the child, and root her firmly in her community. I am impressed that, at just 11, Yi Hsuan has this insight: “This teaches us to care for the less fortunate and do our part to contribute to society from young…. I realised that leading is not bossing people around; but serving others when the need arises.” I am sure that our Minister of State Ms Sim Ann would fully agree for she has been doing a lot of community work in the region. I look forward to Pei Hwa students working with her and serving the community.
Then there is Lim Kai Zhe, a young but lifelong learner who is prepared to go the distance to reach his goals. Kai Zhe describes himself as “very naughty” at the time that he joined Pei Hwa. Pei Hwa’s niche programme, “Holistic Education through Table Tennis”, sparked an intense passion in Kai Zhe that only grew stronger with time.
Kai Zhe trained hard at table tennis and tried year after year, but never made it to the school team. Each rejection made Kai Zhe very sad, because he wanted to win medals for the school and make Pei Hwa proud. But he knew that his studies also needed work. Indeed, maths was one of Kai Zhe’s weaker subjects, and he worked hard with his math teacher at Pei Hwa to transform his fail mark into a pass - he says he is now doing well in maths in secondary school. I am happy to know that.
I am also happy to share with you that Kai Zhe tried out for the table tennis team in his secondary school, and he has just been selected to be a team player for his school. And he thanks Pei Hwa for the training that prepared him for this. Well done, Kai Zhe! We all celebrate your achievement; more than that, we celebrate your perseverance. If we give our students a strong foundation to learn for life and never to give up, the effect can be lasting and life-defining.
These three stories show that what schools do on the ground matters - to your students, to their families, and, ultimately, to their community. Every school leader and teacher’s conviction matters. Every school is a good school by giving each student this broad and deep educational foundation for the lifelong journey of life and learning.The School and Its Students: Valued Members of the Community
I appreciate Pei Hwa’s strong ties with the community that enrich your students’ learning experiences. The School Management Committee (SMC) has served the school since 1945. From the first day of school, they welcome all students and look into their welfare. And on the last day of school, each P6 student receives a farewell gift with his individual name engraved on it from an SMC member. I commend the SMC for their commitment. I was very pleased to learn that Mr Chew has been serving the school for 52 years. Let’s give him a round of applause.
Students’ parents also give strong support. A number of loyal reading mums help primary students by reading to them, teaching them phonics, and cultivating their interest in reading. Some get involved in learning journeys, where they attend to the children’s safety. With every parent a supportive partner, children’s wellbeing, learning and development in school will be even better supported.
The school’s alumni have also maintained their ties with the school. Mr Li Hsiao Yuan, for instance, was the Chairman of the SMC from 2006 to 2011. Despite his heavy work commitments, he was actively involved in social work. His heart for the poor and needy led him to co-found Care Corner, a voluntary organisation, in 1982. In 1987, Care Corner joined the National Council of Social Services. Today, Care Corner’s expanded services include family, youth, student, child and elder-care, as well as counselling and educational therapy services.
Another outstanding alumnus is Mr Baet Yeok Kuan, a Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts lecturer. Conferred the ‘Young Artist Award’ by the National Arts Council in 1995, he will donate several of his works to the school to raise funds for the Presbyterian Community Services, Care Corner, Peace-Connect Seniors Activity Centre and Children’s Cancer Foundation. When the school’s partners and alumni contribute generously, our students benefit, by learning what it is to be part of a community and to make a difference to others in the community.
I encourage Pei Hwa to keep reaching out to, and building connections with, the community in multiple ways, including partnering community stakeholders, such as nearby residents and grassroots volunteers.
Let me end with some words from our “very naughty” student who made it to his school’s table tennis team, Kai Zhe. He says: “We are all like gemstones. Just as a gemstone needs to be cut and polished for its beauty to be visible, we also need to be nurtured and taught so we will shine.”
I am moved that Kai Zhe’s time at Pei Hwa has taught him to recognise and bring out his best qualities. In a good school that gives every child a deep and broad foundation for a lifelong journey of life and learning, each child should come to believe that he is a gem and that his school and teachers are here to help him shine in his own unique way. And of course his parent believing in him to be a gem to be polised.
Congratulations! I hope you journey continues to be bright and meaningful. I hope each of your teachers and students will continue to shine like gems, and that Pei Hwa continues to touch and transform lives, and to be a source of light and values in the community. I wish Pei Hwa Presbyterian Primary School the very best in the years ahead. And since the Chinese New Year is just round the corner, I wish everyone a joyous and fulfilling year ahead. 最后我恭祝大家新年快乐、身体健康、万事如意。祝我们的学生学业进步、品学兼优。
Posting Results For The 2014 Joint Admissions Exercise (JAE) and Joint Polytechnic Special Admissions Exercise (JPSAE)
The Ministry of Education (MOE) will release the posting results for the 2014 Joint Admissions Exercise (JAE) and the Joint Polytechnic Special Admissions Exercise (JPSAE) on Wednesday, 5 February 2014, at 8.00 am.Applicants can obtain their posting results via the following channels:
- The JAE-Internet System (JAE-IS) is accessible through the JAE website at http://www.moe.gov.sg/education/admissions/jae; and
- Short Messaging System (SMS) text messages sent to the mobile phone number provided by the applicant during registration.
- The JPSAE portal can be accessed at https://www.polytechnic.edu.sg/applications/jpsae/Applicant/Login.aspx.
Applicants posted to a Junior College (JC) or the Millennia Institute (MI) should report to these institutions on Thursday, 6 February 2014, at 7.30 am. Applicants posted to a Polytechnic or Institute of Technical Education (ITE) course will receive further instructions via an enrolment package from the respective institutions by mail.
Applicants who wish to appeal for a transfer to another JC or the MI should approach the institution of their choice directly.
Those who wish to appeal for a place in a polytechnic diploma course or seek a transfer to another diploma course can do so via the Centralised Joint Polytechnic JAE appeal system at http://www.polytechnic.edu.sg/applications/jaeappeal, from Wednesday, 5 February 2014, 9.00 am, to Friday, 7 February 2014, 4.00 pm. Each applicant is allowed to select up to three polytechnic diploma courses for which he/she meets the minimum entry requirements (i.e. those listed in Form A issued for the 2014 JAE by MOE), and attains an aggregate score that matches or is better than that of the lowest-ranked student successfully posted through the 2014 JAE. The outcome of the JAE appeals will be released through the Joint Polytechnic JAE appeal website on Thursday, 13 February 2014, at 2.00 pm. For more information on the appeals exercise, please refer to the Joint Polytechnic JAE appeal website.
Those who wish to appeal for a place in the ITE can do so at https://www.ite.edu.sg/wps/portal/intake/, from Wednesday, 5 February 2014, 12.00 am, to Tuesday, 11 February 2014, 11.59 pm. The outcome of the appeals will be released at https://www.ite.edu.sg/admission/ft/results.html from Monday, 24 February 2014, 9.00 am, to Thursday, 27 February 2014, 11.59 pm. Successful applicants are required to accept the offer by Thursday, 27 February 2014.