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Speech by Mrs Lim Hwee Hua, Minister in Prime Minister's Office, Second Minister for Finance and Transport, at Ministry of Education's Special Awards Presentation Ceremony

19 Aug 2010

Miss Ho Peng
Director-General of Education,

Ms Malhafida Haji Alit,
Second Secretary to High Commissioner of Brunei Darussalam,

Distinguished Guests,

Principals and Teachers,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Boys and Girls,

1.   Good afternoon. I am rather pleased to join all of you this afternoon for the annual Special Awards Presentation Ceremony. These special awards celebrate the achievements of students from the numerous pathways in our education system. It is also fitting that this ceremony is taking place during the inaugural Youth Olympic Games which we are hosting, and where the achievements of youth athletes from 205 National Olympic Committees are being celebrated. Here, I would like to extend my congratulations to all the special award recipients.

2.   The education system in Singapore is such that every child is assured basic education, and every child gets an equal opportunity in pursuing it. A teacher teaches two things- skills for you to make a living, and values for you to live by. With the right values and opportunities, there is nothing that cannot be accomplished. About a week ago, twelve year old student, Low Wei Jie, ran alongside the YOG torchbearers for more than two hours, under the scorching sun and heavy rain, just to accomplish what he set out to. He was initially deemed slow and thus had not made it through the torchbearer selection. But his passion and determination so moved the officials that he was eventually given the opportunity to be a torchbearer, to attain his goals.

3.   Each of you here exemplifies a passion for learning and the drive to excel in the things you do. These qualities are necessary for any individual to thrive amidst the challenges in today’s fast-moving and forward-looking society. Many of us here would know that it is not easy to remain passionate and driven all the time, especially with the distractions around us or the obstacles that stand in our way. Clearly, all you award winners have risen to this challenge.

4.   Today, we celebrate your success with you and there certainly are many inspiring stories among our award winners.

5.   Miss Sherlene Chatterji from National Junior College, recipient of the inaugural Lee Hsien Loong Award for Outstanding All-Round Achievement, not only excelled academically on top of her various leadership roles like the Vice-President of the String Ensemble, but also is committed to college events and community involvement projects. As the President of the Greenlink Club, she fights for environmental causes. Sherlene is also actively involved in volunteer work with Ren Ci Hospital and a Care Corner in Queenstown for the less privileged children, and had participated in various international Service-Learning expeditions to Myanmar, Vietnam and the Maldives. Whatever Sherlene does, she does it with great verve.

6.   Next, Mr Goh Jia Hui is a dual award winner of the Lee Kuan Yew All-Round Excellence Award and the Lee Kuan Yew Award for Outstanding Normal Course. With the guidance of his form teacher, Jia Hui understood that he had to take ownership of his own learning and development, and worked hard towards achieving his goals. Jia Hui is currently pursuing his passion in aerospace technology in Yishun ITE, and has blossomed into a confident and motivated young man, as clearly illustrated by his exemplary leadership in the National Cadet Corps, as well as his active involvement in school and community life. Jia Hui also volunteers at the Swami Home in his free time.

7.   Mr Noor Loic B Satar of Mayflower Secondary School, a Lee Kuan Yew All Round Excellence awardee, is another recipient of great strength of character and resilience. The death of his mother in 2005 was a turning point for Loic, who was determined to make his mother proud. His apathy was transformed into initiative, and led to his various achievements ranging from being the President of the Student Leader Board to a recipient of the school’s CARE award. Loic is described by his teacher as an outstanding leader who possesses quiet confidence and the ability to inspire his peers to set higher goals, and to push beyond their limit to achieve them. Loic, your mother would be very proud of you.

8.   These are just three of the many stories which speak of inspiration and success. Each and every one of you here has your own story and I hope you will inspire the people around you. Today’s awards recognise your achievements and affirm your abilities. More importantly, they affirm your potential to contribute to the community and Singapore.

9.   I would like to congratulate your parents, teachers and schools as well, as they have been instrumental in supporting your growth and development. As you continue to keep those who have guided and supported you in mind, remember to do the same for others. Be ready to extend a helping hand, encouraging words or a listening ear. Inspire others to thrive and achieve their goals in the same way as you have.

10.   I wish you all the very best in your future endeavours.