Speech by Mr Masagos Zulkifli BMM, Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Education & Ministry of Home Affairs, at Pasir Ris Secondary School’s 25th Anniversary Celebration on Friday, 6 August 2010 at 7.45am at Pasir Ris Secondary School
Mrs Wendy Lim,
Deputy Director, Schools East
Mr Ang Liang Yew,
Chairman, School Advisory Committee
Mdm Cheng Hwee Yeang,
Principal, Pasir Ris Secondary School
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to be here with you today at Pasir Ris Secondary School’s 25th Anniversary celebration.
Pasir Ris Secondary School, or PRSS, was established in 1985 as one of the first schools in Tampines New Town. Pasir Ris Secondary School was set up to cater to residents of both Tampines and Pasir Ris, and is, despite its relatively young age, older than most schools in these towns.
The Pioneering Years
When Pasir Ris Secondary was set up in 1985, many challenges lay ahead for the school’s founding Principal, Miss Paramita Bandara, and her staff. As Tampines was a relatively new town, they had limited resources to tap on in building up the school. Despite this, Miss Bandara succeeded in forging partnerships and developing community involvement efforts beyond the school.
Most importantly, Miss Bandara and the pioneering staff believed in helping each child learn in every way possible, regardless of their socio-economic status, family background or academic ability. I am happy to note that the mission statement crafted 25 years ago continues to remain relevant today — to nurture students of Pasir Ris Secondary into well-rounded and caring individuals, who would, in turn, become persons of integrity, imbued with a sense of community spirit, identity and responsibility.
Seizing the Moments
As a secular school, Pasir Ris Secondary accepts all students regardless of their race, language or religion. While National Education was not in place as a school initiative in the 80s, the school had already implemented cultural CCAs and related activities as platforms to promote racial harmony and integration, as well as to introduce aesthetics to the school.
A clear example can be seen in the Ruan ensemble, which was introduced as a cultural CCA in 1995, and which subsequently formed the foundation for the development of the Chinese Orchestra in the school. Since then, the Orchestra has grown to become the school’s niche. At the same time, it has also created a common space and setting for students of different races to work together. Similarly, a recent performance put up at the Esplanade in June saw the various cultural CCAs in Pasir Ris Secondary collaborating for a spectacular showcase.
Responding to Changes
Over the past 25 years, Pasir Ris Secondary has undergone many changes and developments. One of these includes the change in the curriculum offered by the school, in response to national initiatives.
In 2006 when MOE announced the introduction of Applied Subjects in secondary schools, Pasir Ris Secondary took the opportunity to offer Digital Animation in 2008. The aim was to offer students more subject choices as well as to cater to the growing digital media industry.
At the same time, the school extended applied learning modules, such as hair-styling and video production, to its Normal Technical (NT) students. These modules were created with the aim of giving NT students greater exposure and some hands-on experience to prepare them for the subjects offered in ITE. Today, the NT elective module has become an integral and exciting part of the NT curriculum for all students from Secondary 1 to 4.
In 2008, the staff also put together an ‘Nhanced’ Programme for its Normal Academic (NA) students to enable those with higher academic abilities to offer Out-of-Stream subjects — such as Mathematics, Science and Mother Tongue (MT) — or skip the ‘N’ level altogether. I am heartened to note that the number of NA students offering Out-of-Stream subjects in the school has steadily increased from four students in 2008 to 23 students in 2010.
Certainly, the changes in Pasir Ris’ school curriculum over the past few years have been implemented to ensure that its students are equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to succeed in a dynamic environment beyond the classroom. I commend Pasir Ris Secondary for actively seeking ways to develop our young into world-ready individuals.
People, Our Focus
The successes and achievements of the school would not have been possible without its people — the students and staff.
Since 2005, Pasir Ris Secondary has made it a practice to deploy two Home Teachers to each class. Today, with stronger staffing provisions supported by MOE — such as the inclusion of adjunct teachers and Allied Educators in the service — all classes can now enjoy guidance and support from two Home Teachers. Working hand-in-hand, the Home Teachers conduct one-to-one conferences with each student during morning assembly to better understand their needs and concerns. I have no doubt that these sessions have also allowed the staff to build better rapport with the students.
While the needs of the students are well taken care of by the teachers and staff, the school is also keenly aware of the importance of looking after the welfare of its workforce. I am pleased to note that the school has developed a customised professional development plan to cater to the different segments of staff and their specific learning needs. For instance, promising officers are placed in the Staff Talent Management Programme (STAMP), where they are given opportunities through job assignments, coaching and relevant courses to develop them either on the leadership or enhanced teaching tracks, while the administrative staff are given training and support to do their job better.
Indeed, Pasir Ris Secondary has managed to seize the many opportunities that have come its way to provide quality and holistic education for its students, as well as a supportive work environment for its staff. In doing so, the school has leveraged strongly on the positive relationships fostered within the school and with its stakeholders. I am confident that Pasir Ris Secondary, under the able leadership of its Principals, will continue to tackle the challenges of a globalising world, while maintaining the strong identity it has forged over the years.
On that note, I would like to extend my congratulations and best wishes to the staff, students and stakeholders on Pasir Ris Secondary’s 25th anniversary. I wish you continued success as you embark on the next lap of your education journey.