Speeches

Speech by Mr Masagos Zulkifli BMM, Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Education and Ministry of Home Affairs, at the Joint School Opening of Tampines Primary School and Tampines Secondary School on Friday, 6 August 2010 at 10.30am

Director, Finance and Development,
Mr Chua Kwan Ping,

Deputy Director/Schools East,
Ms Wendy Lim,

Cluster Superintendent E6,
Mrs Alice Tan,

Distinguished Guests,

Community Partners,

Principals, Vice-Principals,

Residents of Tampines West CC,

Colleagues,

Ladies and gentlemen.

Good morning.

Background to Community School

Tampines New Town is one of the largest residential areas in Singapore and home to a diverse group of ethnic communities living together harmoniously. It is also home to several schools with a rich history and tradition of community outreach. As part of our efforts to deepen the cohesiveness among schools and the larger community in which they reside, MOE officially launched its pilot project of a Community School here on 8 May 2010 to strengthen links and bonds between the school and the community.

Apart from strengthening community ties, there is a need to explore greater sharing of facilities in land-scarce Singapore. Through close collaboration with stakeholder groups from the school, public agencies, and community interest groups, and clever but simple design, school infrastructure can be configured for better resource sharing. Tampines Primary and Secondary schools are the first Community School in Singapore with this shared vision.

I strongly believe that providing access to residents through facilities sharing is a pivotal step towards community building. In addition, we can pool our resources and see new possibilities in our schools and the surrounding communities to become 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. It is with this intent that the Programme for Rebuilding and IMproving Existing Schools (PRIME) projects of the two schools integrated the concept of community sharing.

We are gathered here today to commemorate the official opening of the two schools and to celebrate this significant milestone in Tampines, where we go beyond boundaries to foster closer ties between our schools and the community. Symbolic Infrastructure Features

Although both schools had been located next to each other even before PRIME, they have now returned to their new and improved homes with a significant difference. You would have noticed that there is no physical barrier between the two schools. Though administratively separate, the front view of the building gives the impression of one mega school. This design is intentional and is symbolic of the coming together of the two schools beyond boundaries, as aptly articulated in our theme for today, “Uniting Beyond Boundaries”.

As you enter the building, you are greeted by this iconic sculpture entitled, “The Cradle” - 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 symbolize 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 commitment towards bringing the schools and the communities together in a borderless environment.

Facilities Sharing

Apart from the community walk-way, there are designated areas within the two schools for community sharing as well. For example:

  • The black box is a drama performance centre with a seating capacity for 200. The amphitheatre is another outdoor venue to hold performances. Both the 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. The first of such projects was held in June when the Tampines West CC Malay Activity Group organized a Drama Competition, Sayembara Teater 2010, for Secondary School Students using the black box as an experimental theatre venue. The competition was presided over by drama practitioners who conducted workshop style debrief sessions after the participants performed their act. It was a rich learning experience for all students who participated in this competition. A pioneering effort made possible through this community school initiative.

  • The indoor sports halls, basketball court on the ground floor and the synthetic field will be opened for community use to promote healthy lifestyle activities. I understand from Tampines West CC that the Secondary School’s Indoor Sports Hall is currently used to conduct Badminton courses for residents at a low cost.

  • In addition to these sports facilities, three classrooms on the ground floor of Tampines Primary will be made available to the community to hold courses for the residents. Residents can now look forward to attending courses subsidized by the Ministry of Manpower to upgrade their skills, closer to their homes.

  • Another facility to promote a 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 in bringing the programmes to the neighbourhood, thus making them more accessible.

  • The Tampines Green Residents Committee has embarked on a joint project with the primary school by providing plants to be planted in the school’s eco garden. The plants include grapes, passion fruit, winter melon and rosella. The students are thrilled and they are looking forward to seeing these plants bloom. Students from Tampines Primary have also gone to the community garden patch at Tampines West CC to help the residents label the plants with their scientific names.

Community Bonding

In a collaborative effort, both schools, with the Tampines West Community Sports Club, have successfully organized the annual healthy lifestyle carnival on 31 July involving residents and Tampines West Schools. This is an opportunity for the students to bond with the residents through Games Involving Fitness and Teamwork, also known as the GIFT carnival.

The two canteens, spacious foyer and car park also provide opportunities for the schools to bond as a community through joint community events as well, such as the Chinese New Year celebration held at the school foyer in February this year. We will continue that tradition by holding Tampines West CC’s National Day celebration here on 7 August.

Conclusion

Since the launch of the community school concept in May, I am heartened that both schools have taken active steps to strengthen their links with the community. I wish both schools success in promoting active citizenry and exploring meaningful partnerships with the larger Tampines community. May this be a journey of discovery and learning for both our students and the residents of Tampines.

On this note, it is my pleasure to declare Tampines Primary and Tampines Secondary Schools officially open.