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Speech by Mr Tan Choon Shian
SPEECH BY MR TAN CHOON SHIAN
PRINCIPAL AND CEO OF SINGAPORE POLYTECHNIC
AT THE POLYTECHNIC'S 54TH GRADUATION CEREMONY
THURSDAY, 22 MAY 2014 (SESSION 1)
Mr Heng Swee Keat, Minister for Education
Members of the Singapore Polytechnic Board of Governors
Ladies and Gentlemen
- Good morning and welcome to our 54th Graduation Ceremony. We are honoured to have Mr Heng Swee Keat, Minister for Education grace this opening session as
our Guest of Honour. Thank you Minister for your presence.
- This year, Singapore's first polytechnic will be graduating 5510 graduands. My heartiest congratulations to all of you. This graduation ceremony is
special as it coincides with our Polytechnic's 60th birthday this year.
- Singapore Polytechnic was established in 1954 with the mission to help fulfil technical manpower needs in Singapore. Over the years, many skilled men and
women have been groomed through SP to help build the nation. Sixty years on, SP continues to nurture future-ready individuals like you, our graduands here
SP@60 Strategic Plan
- Singapore Polytechnic unveiled a SP@60 Strategic Plan in 2008. This plan guided SP through the past 5 years towards the vision of preparing our students
to be life-ready, work-ready, and world-ready. The vision comprised four strategic thrusts; Providing Holistic Education, Fostering Global Orientation,
Creating Learning and Social Spaces, and finally, Building Staff Capabilities.
- I am happy to report that SP made great strides under the SP@60 plan. We adopted new pedagogical approaches to provide authentic learning. We rejuvenated
the physical campus, and added new facilities and spaces. Always with our students as our focus.
Embarking on a New Vision for 2014 and beyond
- We did well in the last 5 years. However, we do not rest on our laurels. As an organization, we did a stock-take and took a long hard look at how and
where we will take SP to the future. I personally feel that it is critical that we have a clear vision for SP which is co-created, shared and owned by each
and every one of us. This Vision will guide us in our strategies, decisions and actions in trying times and complex situations.
- To arrive at the new vision, we went through an inclusive and deliberate process which started in mid 2012 when we consulted experts and key
stakeholders, and looked at the future trends of young people, education and work in the world and in Singapore. We also embarked on an engagement exercise
in 2013 within Singapore Polytechnic with many staff and some students. We gathered many insights from the rich conversations, and more importantly,
collectively came together to open our hearts and share our purpose, passion and aspirations for SP.
- The visioning process took one and a half years, but I think the time spent and effort invested was worth it. Today, I wish to share with you our new SP
Vision - A caring community of inspired learners committed to serve with mastery. These are 3 simple ideas that profoundly affect who we are and what we
- The first idea of the Inspired learner is about the learner who is purposeful and passionate about learning. He or she is a self-motivated, self-directed
learner who has learnt how to learn, and go on to learn for life. The learner refers not just to our students, but also our alumni and staff. In our vision
conversations, we heard from many SP lecturers and staff who joined us and stayed with us because they want to inspire the next generation. We also heard
from students who have discovered the purpose and joy of learning.
- The second idea in our SP Vision is to Serve with Mastery. This is encapsulated in our Polytechnic motto inscribed on the SP Crest. Our motto reads,
"Berkhidmat Dengan Keahlian", a Malay phrase which was originally translated into English as "to Serve with Skill". SP received it in 1960 from our former
Deputy Prime Minister and the then-Chairman of SP's Board of Governors, the late Dr. Toh Chin Chye. Today, in 2014, we update the translation to "to Serve
with Mastery" and adopt it as the second idea in our new vision, to reaffirm our unique strength as a polytechnic. We want our graduates to eventually
achieve mastery in their chosen specialization and profession through dedication and practice; and to use this mastery to serve, improve lives and make an
impact on society. Mastery, which basically means deep skills, is critical for our graduates to do well in the future economy. Serve with Mastery reaffirms
our pride in our specialization and reminds us to use our expertise to serve others.
- Now for the third and final idea in our SP Vision - Caring Community. When we forge a sense of belonging amongst the many inspired learners who serve
with mastery, we form a community. This caring community starts in SP, but with our 5500 graduates every year, we will over time impact the community in
Singapore and beyond. Caring has two meanings. The first is about being gracious, compassionate, and helping those in need. The second is about caring
enough to do the right thing, make tough decisions, and to change others and to even change ourselves
New Mission: Life-Ready; Work-Ready and World-Ready
- In our vision conversation, we realized that the idea in the earlier SP@60 Vision of preparing our students to be Life-Ready, Work-Ready and World-Ready
is evergreen. We will therefore adopt it as SP's new mission. I am confident that with our renewed clarity in our mission, and our collective purpose and
passion to pursue the new vision, SP is well poised to nurture our students to meet the needs of society in the years ahead.
Graduates who Exemplify the Vision
- Let me now share with you the story of one of our fellow graduands, Lam Ying Sheng, who exemplifies our new vision. Ying Sheng felt that life dealt him
a blow when he was not admitted into his preferred secondary school. Prideful and rebellious, he skipped school and fought regularly. Matters came to a
head when he almost got himself expelled. After a period of self reflection, he came to his senses and resolved to curb his destructive behavior and put
his talent to use. He decided his purpose was to help address society's problems but first he needed to get a good education. Ying Sheng joined SP's
Diploma course in Financial Informatics.
- Applying himself to his studies, this Inspired learner transformed himself to a straight-A student. The rest is history - he stands before us today as
an Institutional Medalist. We are proud to recognize him because he excelled not just in academics but also in CCA, and contribution to SP and to the
community. Looking back at his earlier years when he was on the path to self destruction, Ying Sheng is determined to help address society's problems. He
volunteers to help youths at risk by conducting workshops for vulnerable youth through CARE Singapore. He is doing his part in "Caring Community", the
third idea of the SP vision. Ying Sheng aspires to pursue his career in a ministry or a statutory board to serve Singapore. We wish him all the best to
eventually achieve mastery in his job and to serve with mastery, the second idea of the SP vision.
- I am happy and proud that many of you are holistic graduates like Ying Sheng. I am also heartened that we are nurturing a caring community of inspired
learners who serve with mastery. This holds much promise for the future of Singapore.
SP has come a long way. Sixty years to be exact. This year, the members of this illustrious institution, students, lecturers, staff members - past and
present - will come together in a host of activities to celebrate SP's 60th anniversary.
We encourage you to participate in these activities. One such activity is the SP Memory Project. We have embarked on this project to build a digital
collection of stories, memories and photos on the history, tradition and growth of SP; to remember the experiences and contributions of the many students
and staff who have made SP the vibrant institution it is today. In the past year alone, we have collected about 300 stories from students, alumni, past and
present staff members, as well as our Principals and Chairmen of the Board of Governors over the years. These stories and some 20,000 photos are available
for your discovery on My SP Memories website. This online site is not just a depository of memories and information but a live environment for the SP
community to gather, to give and share testimonials of their journey in their beloved institution.
- At the national level, the National Library Board has the Singapore Memory Project in celebration of Singapore's 50th Anniversary next year. The
memories collected in the SP memory project will be added to this meaningful national project.
- To all graduands here today, I urge you to visit this website before you leave SP today. I think it would be both fitting and poignant for you to use
this opportunity to remember the years you have spent here in SP.
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- In closing, let me congratulate all of you once again. Graduands, we encourage you to use your talent and future mastery to help ensure that Singapore
remains a vibrant and exciting place to live and work in and a place which we want to call home. Do keep in touch through the SP Alumni Network.
- My colleagues and I wish all of you the very best as you embark on the next stage of your lives. Thank you.