SPEECH BY MS SIM ANN
SENIOR PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY
MINISTRY OF EDUCATION AND MINISTRY OF LAW

AT THE SINGAPORE POLYTECHNIC CONVENTION CENTRE
MONDAY, 23 MAY 2011 (Session 1)



Mr Tan Kay Yong
Chairman, SP Board of Governors,

 

Mr Tan Hang Cheong
Principal, Singapore Polytechnic,

 

Distinguished Guests,

 

Parents and Graduands,

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

    I
    t is my pleasure to be here today at Singapore Polytechnic’s 51st Graduation Ceremony. This day marks a significant milestone for SP’s 6,011 graduates. My heartiest congratulations to you. I share the joy and excitement together with your parents and lecturers who are here with you. You must be proud to join the ranks of SP’s 150,000 strong alumni.

SP’s Successful Alumni

  1. SP is Singapore’s oldest polytechnic. Therefore, it has a diverse and successful alumni base. Allow me to highlight a few examples:

    • Mr Lawrence Kim, Managing Director of Ebenezer NDT Services Pte Ltd, graduated from SP in 2003 with a Diploma in Banking and Financial Services. Mr Kim started his own printing business at the age of 17, while still a student. Having emerged the winner at Singapore’s Global Student Entrepreneur Awards in 2009, he went on to be the first ever Asian to clinch a 2nd runner-up position at the international finals in the USA as an SMU undergraduate. In 2010, he was awarded a patent in his name. Mr Kim proudly attributes his achievements to his education in SP. Then, Mr Kim, who received a Distinction for CCA, was the President of SP’s Student Entrepreneurs and sat on the management committee for the School of Business club, for which he organized many activities. He also participated in many leadership camps and seminars organized by SP. All these gave him a head-start in leadership training. The overseas internship experience that SP provided also groomed and enriched him. My warmest congratulations to Mr Lawrence Kim for his achievements.

    • A second example. Ms Ismawanty Binte Abdul Razak, who graduated with a Diploma in Biotechnology last year, is now project manager for SP’s Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) programme. This brings together diverse students, professionals and industry leaders under a common vision to improve the world through business. SP was the champion for the SIFE Nationals competition when Ismawanty participated as an SP student in 2008 and 2009. As part of SIFE’s Mission Sevapur in India, she helped to build a greenhouse to enable the villagers to grow crops for sale more efficiently so that they could send their children to school. Inspired by her experience, Ismawanty decided to go full-time into social entrepreneurship, and is also pursuing a degree in social work. She derives deep fulfillment from transforming individuals, families and communities, and mentoring her juniors to make a positive impact through creative solutions and empathy.

SP’s Commitment to Academic Excellence

  1. The success of SP’s alumni is built on its unwavering commitment to academic excellence. SP constantly finds new and innovative ways to help its students learn better. By leveraging on the emergent learning ecologies of Web 2.0, SP has created a virtual environment where students and staff can connect, collaborate and co-create knowledge outside of the physical classroom. SP is also using unified communications and mobile technologies to enhance productivity and facilitate enquiry-based learning. Students on field projects locally or overseas can collate data, browse SP library resources, and connect and communicate with teammates and lecturers seamlessly, across mobile devices and platforms.

  2. SP has also invested in enhancing the physical teaching and learning infrastructure to create a conducive learning environment for its students.

    • Students from the Diploma in Clean Energy learn in an environment infused with creative and energy-saving features, such as a green wall at the entrance that reduces temperatures in adjacent rooms.

    • The Human Resource Learning Studio (HRLS) was set up in March 2010 to help students such as those in the Diploma in Human Resource Management with Psychology to perfect their communication and counseling skills. The studio incorporates the latest technologies to record students’ verbal and non-verbal cues from any angle of the room. It makes learning more experiential and engaging.

SP Software

  1. While SP’s state-of-the-art teaching facilities have contributed to the success of its graduates, its “software” also played an important role. SP provides a caring community with mentorship and peer support, to spur each student to realize his or her potential.

  2. Let me share with you a heartwarming example of this. Mohammad Iraimi bin Mohammad Fuad is a graduate from the Diploma in Tourism and Resort Management. He was hospitalized in his second year for Guillain-Barre Syndrome, an immune system disorder that causes nerve inflammation and muscle weakness. During this time, his classmates visited him in hospital to coach him in the lessons that he missed. His lecturer, Ms Wang Pheck Hoon, shared with him how she overcame her personal struggles. With such care and support, Mohammad Iraimi was able to achieve a very commendable GPA of 3.476 for his final semester. SP also subsidized his immersion programme in Batam. As I extend my heartfelt congratulations to Mohammad Iraimi on his graduation day, I would also like to acknowledge Ms Wang and all of Mohammad Iraimi’s friends who have helped him through his challenging journey.

  3. Another example is Kek You Shan, from the Diploma in Human Resource Management with Psychology. You Shan was determined not to let financial difficulties affect his education. He worked part-time during vacations to support himself and took a loan to buy the laptop PC required for school. He also received the Community Development Council/Citizens Consultative Committee (CDC/CCC)-Polytechnic bursary, and additional aid from SP’s financial assistance schemes. As you can see, SP, and our polytechnics as a system, ensures that students from low-income families have access to a high-quality education. Today, I am proud to share that You Shan – who is a positive, helpful and well-liked student – will be awarded the Gold Medal for topping his course.

Government’s Continued Commitment to Polytechnic Sector

  1. To help more students such as You Shan and Mohammad Iraimi benefit from a polytechnic education, MOE will continue to invest in the polytechnic sector. MOE had announced the expansion and renewal of our polytechnics’ facilities, including SP, founded in 1954. These plans will enhance the teaching and learning environment for staff and students, and ensure that students are work-ready when they graduate.

  2. MOE has also announced the enhancements to financial assistance offered to polytechnic students. From this year, Singaporean students in the lower two-thirds of households by income (subject to a monthly household income cap of $1,700 per capita) can receive MOE bursaries to defray tuition fee expenses. Bursary quanta have also increased, now ranging from $450 to $1,800 per year, which covers 20% to 80% of fees.

  3. MOE will also do more to help the polytechnics strengthen their industry linkages, and instill an innovative spirit among its students. MOE’s Innovation Fund and the National Research Foundation (NRF’s) Translational, Research and Development Fund has awarded a total of 15 research grants to SP. These funds will build stronger linkages between SP and its industry partners, which in turn provide opportunities for students to participate in hands-on; cutting-edge project work relevant to today’s industry. We will continue in this investment, and have set aside $80m in new funds for the grant over the next five years.

Lifelong Education

  1. Finally, I want to say more about the need for Continuing Education and Training, or CET. While SP has provided you with a foundation for a successful career, you must continue to upgrade to stay relevant to the industry. As the famous philosopher, Alvin Toffler, once said, “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” Education must therefore be a lifelong pursuit.

  2. As SP graduates, you should seize the opportunities that SP offers to upgrade yourselves, to stay relevant to industry. SP’s Professional and Adult Continuing Education (PACE) Academy offers over 400 CET programmes, including part-time Diplomas, Specialist and Advanced Diplomas I encourage you graduands to look to SP for your upgrading needs after spending some time in the workforce.

  3. The Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) also offers another upgrading pathway for polytechnic graduates. SIT currently offers six degree programmes at SP, the latest being in Chemical Engineering with the Technical University of Munich (TUM).

Conclusion

  1. In closing, let me congratulate all of you once again on your achievement. Your parents, loved ones and lecturers have every reason to be proud of you this graduation day. SP has provided you with a good headstart by preparing you to be work-ready, life-ready and world-ready. I encourage you to pursue the next phase of your life with vigor, passion and boldness; take every opportunity to upgrade and develop yourself, and use your talent and skills to help ensure that Singapore remains a vibrant and exciting place to live and work in.

  2. I wish you the very best as you embark on the next stage of your lives. Thank you.