Speech by Mr Masagos Zulkifli BMM, Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Education and Ministry of Home Affairs, at the Launch of Community Sharing of Schools' Facilities on Saturday, 8 May 2010, at 9.00am at Tampines Primary School
Mrs Wendy Lim, Deputy Director Schools East
Mrs Alice Tan, Superintendent E6
Principals and Vice Principals
Residents of Tampines West CC
Ladies and Gentlemen.
Forging Ties between School & Community in Tampines
Tampines New Town is one of the largest residential areas in Singapore and home to a diverse group of ethnic communities living together harmoniously. Being one of the largest residential areas, Tampines New Town is also home to several schools with rich histories and a tradition of community outreach. I strongly believe that providing access to residents through facility-sharing by the schools would be a pivotal step towards community building.
Since 2005, the Ministry of Education has been sharing sports facilities in the schools with the community after school hours. To-date, 80 school fields are available for the public to use and 50 ‘free-to-play’ smaller fields are available for recreational purposes. In addition, 30 Indoor Sports Halls are opened to the public for badminton, basketball, netball and volleyball. Many schools also allow registered organisations and community groups to make use of their non-sports facilities such as halls, music rooms and classrooms.
The opportunity to further enhance our community building efforts in Tampines presented itself in 2007 when the Tampines schools were embarking on upgrading through PRIME—Programme for Rebuilding and IMproving Existing Schools. We then mooted the idea to physically configure the schools for better resource sharing with the local residents as part of our efforts to deepen the cohesiveness between schools and the larger community in which they reside. As the concept of community sharing was integrated into the design and operations planning from the beginning, suitable facilities could be open for use by the community without compromising the safety and security of the schools.
This is a significant milestone for Tampinesians, as we pool our resources and explore new possibilities by integrating our schools and the surrounding communities into one big Tampinesian family. Through this effort, our students will also begin to see themselves as active citizens who go beyond the confines of the school.
Sharing of School Facilities with the Community
Let me now highlight some of the special features of our Community School. You would have noticed that there is no barrier between the two schools. The front view of the building gives the impression of one Mega School. This design is intentional and it symbolises the community spirit of one cohesive Tampinesian family. As you enter the building, you are greeted by an iconic sculpture—the bronze hand with five fingers cradling the seedling of a Tampines tree, resting on a Tampines Leaf. The sculpture depicts the journey of the Tampinesian who is shaped by the school values and nurtured into becoming a responsible individual. The five fingers also symbolise the hands of the community and the schools coming together in community building. You will also notice that the water feature is linked to a “community walk” joining the two schools and the park behind. This signifies the beauty of bringing the schools and the communities together in a borderless environment.
Community Sharing Facilities
Apart from the community walk-way, there are designated areas within the two schools for community sharing as well. For example:
Residents can also look forward to performances at the outdoor amphitheatre as well as the Black Box—a drama performance centre with a seating capacity for 200—in Tampines Primary School. Both schools are strong in the performing arts and drama. Leveraging on this strength, the schools and the community can explore various joint projects to enhance aesthetics appreciation in our students as well as the larger Tampinesian community. Through these joint performances, we hope to deepen the bond between the schools and the community.
The indoor sports hall, basketball court and the synthetic field will also be opened for community use to promote healthy lifestyle activities.
Another facility to promote healthy lifestyle is the Gym located at the Secondary School compound. The Changi General Hospital will run its Weight Management and Wellness programmes for the community at the Gym. It is a joint effort by the School and the Tampines West CC to bring the programmes to the neighbourhood, thus making them more accessible.
Apart from promoting a healthy lifestyle, the Tampines Green Residents Committee has embarked on a joint project with the primary school by providing plants for the school’s eco garden. The plants include grapes, passion fruit, winter melon and ribena. I heard the students are thrilled by the eco garden and they are looking forward to see these plants bloom. Students from Tampines Primary are also helping out at the community garden patch to help the residents label the plants with their scientific names.
In addition to these joint efforts, three classrooms on the ground floor of Tampines Primary will be made available to Tampines West CC to conduct courses for the residents. Residents can now look forward to attending courses subsidised by MOM to upgrade their skills, closer to their homes.
Joint community events could also be held at the canteens, foyer and car park area to facilitate community bonding. I am sure all of us would fondly remember the joyous Chinese New Year celebration held at the school foyer in February this year. We will continue that tradition and relive the memories by holding our National Day celebration here on 10 August once again.
With the community sharing facilities, we continue to assure parents that our students will still have priority of usage and that there would not be any compromise in their teaching and learning. In fact, their learning will be enhanced by the improved facilities, made possible by the community like the Gym.
It is my pleasure today to present to you our Community School—Tampines Primary and Secondary schools. At this juncture, I would also like to show our deepest appreciation to all our residents living around the two schools. We thank you for your understanding and patience for putting up with all the inconveniences during the construction of the schools. Your understanding and patience speak well of our Tampinesian community spirit.
I hope that this Community School Pilot will strengthen our links and forge bonds beyond boundaries. I believe every member of our community will demonstrate active citizenry by giving our time and effort to make this project a resounding success. I hope the community would also partner the school to take care of these facilities so that all of us can enjoy the facilities in this Community School together and unite in a determined effort to make Tampines a Home for all of us.