Speeches

Speech by Mr S Iswaran, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Trade and Industry and Ministry of Education, at the 10th Anniversary and Official Opening of Indoor Sports Hall on Friday, 9 April 2010, at 6.00pm at Kent Ridge Secondary School

Assoc Prof Yu Shi Ming,
Chairman, School Advisory Committee

Mr Koh Chong Mong,
Principal, KRSS

My MOE colleagues

Distinguished Guests

Parents

Teachers and Students

Good evening.

It gives me great pleasure to join you this evening to celebrate Kent Ridge Secondary School’s 10th Anniversary, as well as the official opening of the KRSS Indoor Sports Hall. I would like to extend my warmest congratulations to Kent Ridge Secondary School on reaching this significant milestone in its history and on the completion of an important addition to its facilities, the Indoor Sports Hall.

As a Member of Parliament for West Coast GRC, I had the honour of officiating at the Opening of the school back in 2003. Since then, Kent Ridge has grown from a fledgling secondary school to become an established, and increasingly popular, educational institution in the neighbourhood. From its humble beginnings at 27A Jubilee Road with 13 teachers and 155 Secondary One students, Kent Ridge Secondary School now has close to 100 teaching and non–teaching members of staff, and more than 1100 students. The school’s progress is due in no small measure to its cadre of dedicated and passionate staff who are committed to high standards in education and outcomes.

Singapore’s Quality Education

The story of Kent Ridge Secondary School is one that is repeated across the entire landscape of education in Singapore. It is a broader reflection of the strides the Singapore Education System as a whole has made since Singapore’s independence. It is a result of Singapore’s continuous effort to enhance educational opportunities for all — while steadfastly focusing on the fundamentals by building a strong corps of school leaders and teachers, developing rigorous curriculum, and ensuring that our assessment systems are of high quality and valued by educational institutions and employers worldwide. Many educational professionals and policy makers from abroad have taken note of our progress too. Our schools and institutions regularly receive delegations from overseas, including Ministers of other top–performing education systems. They are uniformly impressed by the quality of engaged learning in our classrooms and the commitment of our educators.

While we are heartened by these positive comments, they should only serve to encourage us to continually strive for further improvement. We engage and listen to broad segments of society and our stakeholders for their views on education as an on–going exercise. We view education reform as a continuous journey to equip each generation of Singaporeans adequately for their future.

21st Century Competencies

As a result, MOE will allocate more resources to developing soft skills and values as we see this as an important area of need. Another area of emphasis is public speaking skills and the ability to communicate ideas well, which are vital skills for the new economy. Last April, MOE accepted the recommendations of the Primary Education Review and Implementation (PERI) Committee which aim to nurture every child into a confident person, a self–directed learner, a concerned citizen and an active contributor.

For this purpose, MOE has developed a framework on delivering 21st Century Skills to provide a common platform for all schools to anchor various efforts in developing soft skills and character. This framework can be visualised as comprising three concentric rings with values forming its core. This is because knowledge and skills must be underpinned by values. Values define a person’s character and shape his beliefs, attitudes and actions. The middle ring signifies the Social and Emotional competencies — skills necessary for children to recognise and manage their emotions, develop care and concern for others, make responsible decisions, establish positive relationships, as well as handle challenging situations effectively. The outer ring of the framework represents the 21st century skills necessary for the globalised world we live in. These are global awareness and cross–cultural skills, civic literacy and critical thinking, information and communication skills.

I am, therefore, happy to note that Kent Ridge Secondary School has always emphasised student character development in its approach towards education. I am told that community involvement is a cornerstone of the school’s Character Development Programme. Since 2008, it has dedicated a day each year for whole school involvement in activities such as recycling efforts and bringing joy to the elderly living in rental blocks, to underline the importance of caring for others, the community and the environment.

In addition to the programmes described above, Sports, CCAs and PE are excellent opportunities for students to develop a range of skills — from acquiring an awareness of physical well–being and developing a sense of self–esteem, to picking up important values such as teamwork, fair play and a “can–do” spirit.

The newly built Indoor Sports Hall will, therefore, be an important enhancement to the infrastructure of the school to conduct PE lessons and to organise sports competitions that involve the masses and not just a select group of students. I understand that Kent Ridge Secondary School has been forward looking in this respect as it has been organising mass participation sporting activities for its students during their Sports Day — renamed Kent Ridge Olympics.

This year, I hear that the school has gone one better. It has infused service learning opportunities in Kent Ridge Olympics. Students and staff from Lee Kong Chian Gardens School, a school for intellectually disabled students, were invited to participate in Kent Ridge’s Sports Day and associated activities. This also presented an opportunity for Kent Ridge students to learn values such as empathy and compassion for others — examples of essential social emotional competencies. I have been told that the two schools are seeking to cultivate an active partnership to benefit students from both schools. There are plans for the Lee Kong Chian Gardens School to participate in Kent Ridge’s Entrepreneurship Fair in August this year. This will be a platform for Kent Ridge students to apply their social entrepreneurship skills meaningfully and to benefit students from Lee Kong Chian Gardens School with the day’s collections.

Besides Character Development, Kent Ridge Secondary commits itself to promoting Student–Centred Learning by embarking on various school–based curriculum innovation projects over the years. This year, the school’s curriculum innovation on Interdisciplinary Project Work for Secondary One students will be supported by the Ministry of Education under TLLM Ignite 3! The introduction of Project Work, where students are fully engaged in group work, inquiry and the use of information and communication technology, is aligned to MOE’s desired outcomes of developing the students into self–directed learners and active contributors.

Strengthening English Language Skills

In line with the Ministry of Education’s (MOE) focus on enhancing the teaching and learning of languages in schools, the Kent Ridge has also leveraged on the opportunity to incorporate Enrichment in Oral English Communication Skills. This serves to prepare the students for their Project Work presentations and to nurture them into confident communicators. In fact, Kent Ridge Secondary School has adopted a whole–school approach to enrich the English language learning environment in school by introducing S–Cube, which stands for “Speak up, Speak out, Speak right” — a weekly platform for students to showcase their English oracy skills. I would like to commend the efforts of the school in building strong communication skills among our young, so as to prepare them well for the future.

The passion and dedication of the teachers and the school leaders have yielded strong outcomes in the all–round development of the students. Beyond school level awards, the accomplishments of Kent Ridge Secondary graduands in tertiary institutions provide a telling indication of the impact the teachers have had in the lives of their charges. I am told that many ex–Kent Ridgeans have won accolades in post–secondary edcuation. Of these, I would like to highlight Mr Chan Kah Wai Kenneth, the 2007 Kent Ridgean of the Year who also received the prestigious Ngee Ann Polytechnic Scholarship in 2007. During his years at Kent Ridge, Kenneth blossomed into a problem–solver and a critical thinker. While juggling various leadership roles as the President of the Student Council and the Choir as well as his studies, Kenneth handled both achievements and setbacks with emotional maturity and resilience. Embracing life to the fullest, he participated in a wide range of activities in school, including being part of the team that scaled Mount Kinabalu in 2005. In his valedictory speech, Kenneth credited the school and his teachers for his growth. In many ways, Kenneth is the embodiment of the desired outcomes of education – a confident person, a self–directed learner, a concerned citizen and an active contributor. The educators at Kent Ridge Secondary School can be justifiably proud of the difference they have made in the lives of many students like Kenneth who have passed through the gates of the school.

Conclusion

Tonight’s celebration is much more than just a commemoration of 10 years of effort and success. It is a recognition of Kent Ridge Secondary School’s continued commitment to provide quality education for generations of students. For this, we acknowledge the past and present staff of Kent Ridge for their unceasing efforts in nurturing the heart, igniting the passion and strengthening the will of its students.

Tonight, KRSS also recognises the strong partnerships between the school, the School Advisory Committee and the Parents’ Support Group. The unwavering commitment and support of these partners has helped to shape the history of Kent Ridge. The sustained contributions of both the School Advisory Committee and the Parents’ Support Group have enabled the school to enrich the quality of education it offers.

The newly built Indoor Sports Hall will not only provide more students the opportunity to participate in sports and games, it will also increase opportunities for the community to participate in sports after school hours on weekdays and during weekends. This will provide an additional avenue for the school to forge stronger links with the community.

On this note, it gives me great pleasure to once again extend my heartiest congratulations and best wishes to all the members of staff, pupils and stakeholders on Kent Ridge’s 10th anniversary.

I wish you even greater success as you continue on your journey of excellence in education.