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Speech by Mrs Lim Hwee Hua, Minister in Prime Minister's Office, Second Minister for Finance and Transport, at Raffles Girl's School (RGS) Speech Day 2009, 29 August 2009 at 9.00 AM at RGS Campus

31 Aug 2009

Honourable Justice Judith Prakash,
Chairperson, RGS Board of Governors

Mrs. Julie Hoo
Principal of RGS

Distinguished Guests

Parents, Teachers and Pupils

Good Morning


1. I am truly delighted to join you this morning in celebrating RGS' Speech Day, marking the 130th anniversary of the founding of the school back in 1879.

The RGS Legacy

2. The history of RGS is a long and inspiring one, from her humble beginnings to being a premier girl's school in Singapore and the region, a school with a sustained high achievement in the academic, sporting and artistic arenas. The legacy of RGS, built up over so many years, by generation after generation of pupils, teachers, principals, alumni and supporters of the school, is rich and abundant. RGS has, in many significant ways, contributed to the education of girls in Singapore so that they may, in turn, be contributors to the building of this nation. I am heartened by the fact that RGS has been playing her part in preparing girls for life's challenges in an ever-changing and uncertain world.

Trailblazing in Education

3. The education system in Singapore must continuously improve in order to better prepare students with the skills and attributes to excel in a rapidly-changing world. RGS is, and has always been, at the forefront of our efforts to refine and develop our education system, blazing the trail in the local education scene, from being a pioneer for the Gifted Education Programme to being one of the earliest schools to gain independent status and to introducing the integrated programme. RGS not only provides rich platforms for learning, acquiring skills and knowledge, but also imbues in her pupils enduring values that guide their aspirations and actions. It comes as no surprise, therefore, that many RGS alumni are now at the pinnacle of their respective fields of expertise. Many are present here today. It is not only commendable that they are leading in diverse fields but also important that they are role models for younger women, and not just those from RGS.

4. As Singapore prepares to participate more in an increasingly globalised and competitive world, even more home-grown talents will be needed. This is where RGS can play a role. With its mission to nurture the high ability girl, and its programmes designed to uncover and develop a range of abilities, RGS is well placed to develop a pool of diverse talents for Singapore. But it is important to not just cultivate young women with high intelligence, business acumen, sporting prowess or artistic flair, but also to inculcate in them a passion to serve the nation and community as a whole.

Managing Trade-offs and Expectations

5. The role of women in Singapore has evolved in tandem with their educational profile. Women today are more educated and have more career opportunities, responsibilities and platforms to contribute than ever before. However, with more opportunities come more trade-offs. The focus on careers has put pressure on fam

6. Conventional wisdom has it that better qualified persons will be more successful. This is not always true as better educated persons tend to have higher expectations of themselves, and frequently of others too. Therefore you need to guard against being too exacting or setting expectations that are too high or you would constantly feel you have under-achieved, or worse still that you are a failure.

7. Also, the more you know, the more risk-averse you will become. Be like the turtle. Why? Because in order for the turtle to move, it has to stick its neck out. There are going to be times in your life when you're going to have to stick your neck out. There will be challenges and instead of hiding in a shell, you have to go out and meet them. Don't spend too much time analyzing the different scenarios. Neither should you shy away from taking a stand. As the Nike ad says it so well, Just do it.

An All-round Education

8. As the premier school for girls in our open and meritocratic education system, it is imperative that RGS continue this mission. The school's legacy and distinctive education must continue to impart values and skills to the girls so they are able to choose wisely, care deeply, and act responsibly whichever path they should choose in life.

9. And, I encourage all of you, young ladies, to appreciate what your school has done for you and to put what you have received into practice so that everyone who chances upon an RGS girl now or an alumnus in the future recognizes her abilities and her potential to contribute to society.

10. One day, you have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. You can't get there by bus, only by hard work and risk and by not quite knowing what you're doing despite all that education, but what you'll discover will be wonderful. What you'll discover will be yourself.


11. Let me conclude by congratulating all the Speech Day 2009 awardees on their excellent academic and sporting performances; and RGS on your 130th anniversary, your numerous outstanding achievements locally and internationally, and your truly extraordinary legacy.

12. Thank you.