Speech by Dr Ng Eng Hen, Minister for Education and Second Minister for Defence, at the Official Opening of Hong Wen School’s New Campus on Saturday, 18 September 2010, at 7.40 pm
Mr Liang Jianyong,
Mayor, Putian City, China
Miss Lim Huay Chih,
Director, School Planning and Placement, Ministry of Education
Mr Ng Kim Choon,
Chairman, Hong Wen School Management Committee
Mr Ngoh Choon Ho,
Principal, Hong Wen School
Ladies and Gentlemen
It gives me great pleasure to join you this evening to celebrate the official opening of Hong Wen School’s new campus. Tonight is a special occasion as we are also commemorating the school and Hin Ann Huay Kuan’s 90th anniversary. The theme “Rootedness and Innovation” is thus an apt one, as we celebrate the past and look forward to the innovations that this new campus is going to inspire in Hong Wen’s staff and students.
Celebrating Our History and Tradition
Hong Wen has come a long way since it was started in 1920 by Hin Ann Huay Kuan with only 50 pupils. It was twice closed due to an economic recession in the 1920s and the World War in the 1940s. By 1957 however, the enrolment of the school had increased to more than a thousand, and classes had to be conducted in rented premises due to space constraints. It was also the year that Hong Wen became a government-aided school. In 1981, the school was relocated to Victoria Street to cater to a younger neighbourhood, and began to gradually transit from a Chinese medium school to one that offered bilingual education.
Hong Wen as an SAP School
In 1992, Hong Wen was recognised as a Special Assistance Plan (SAP) school. The Ministry of Education (MOE) had established SAP schools to preserve the ethos of the Chinese medium schools and to promote the learning of the Chinese language and culture. For the past three decades, our SAP schools have played a key role in nurturing bilingual students.
To enhance pupils’ experience of learning the Chinese language and culture, Hong Wen developed a flagship Chinese Cultural Arts Programme, where all pupils from Primary 1 to 5 are given the opportunity to be exposed to various Chinese cultural and arts activities. These include Chinese calligraphy, Chinese musical instruments, Chinese martial arts, Chinese painting, Chinese chess and weiqi. I am heartened to note that the programme has been well-received by both parents and pupils for the way it enhances pupils’ aesthetic faculties and inculcate in them a deeper appreciation and understanding of the Chinese culture.
Providing a Holistic Education
The success of the Chinese Cultural Arts Programme reflects the school’s firm belief in nurturing young minds that are ready to face the future with confidence and integrity. Indeed moving ahead in the 21st century, we need to strive to develop each child into a confident person, a self-directed learner, an active contributor and concerned citizen. We want our students to be literate in global, cross-cultural and civic issues. We want them to think critically, seek information independently and communicate skillfully.
I am thus pleased to see that Hong Wen has also established niches in rope-skipping and wushu. Your efforts in cultivating your pupils’ talents in these areas have seen commendable achievements over the years at zonal and national competitions. I encourage the school to continue excelling in these niches and providing a holistic education to its pupils.
Enhanced Physical Environment for Innovation and Learning
Just as individual pupils need to keep pace with global changes, our schools too need to constantly refresh and rejuvenate themselves to meet the changing needs of education. Hong Wen’s new premises here at Towner Road have been developed with the aim of providing a physical environment conducive to innovation and learning for both staff and pupils. For instance, the new campus has enabled Hong Wen to transit to single-session since 2009, creating more time and space for staff and pupils. New facilities such as a running track, an air-conditioned multi-purpose hall and a Mini Adventure Indoor Playground, are also providing more spaces for teachers to deliver holistic education.
Support from Stakeholders
The development of Hong Wen would not have been possible without an effective school leadership and generations of committed, capable teachers. The dedication and support of the school’s stakeholders over the years have also played an integral role. I understand that this evening’s ceremony has, for instance, been put together through the close collaboration between staff and pupils, the School Management Committee (SMC), Hong Wen Alumni and the Parent Support Group. The support from Hin Ann Huay Kuan has also been unwavering.
It is with such strong support from the various stakeholders that Hong Wen has produced a number of outstanding alumni. Mathematics Professor Koh Kee Meng from the National University of Singapore is one such alumnus who has been actively contributing to the school all these years. I believe Hong Wen is similarly proud of another exceptional alumnus – Miss Chow Yi Ling, who is one of this year’s President’s Scholars. Besides excelling in her studies, Yi Ling is also actively involved in the community, working with grassroots bodies such as the Hougang Youth Executive Committee and Residents’ Committee. I hope that Hong Wen’s pupils will be inspired by these role models. When they graduate from the school, I hope that they, too, will think of how they can serve their school and society with whatever talents and means they have.
On this note, let me extend my congratulations and best wishes to all the staff, pupils and stakeholders of Hong Wen school on your official opening and 90th anniversary. I wish you continued success as you embark on the next lap of your education journey.