Speech by Guest-Of-Honour, Ms Indranee Rajah, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Law and Ministry of Education, at the Singapore Children's Forum 2015 on Saturday, 6 June 2015 at NTUC Auditorium

Published Date: 06 June 2015 12:00 AM

News Speeches

Mr Koh Choon Hui,
Chairman of Singapore Children’s Society

Professor Ho Lai Yun,
Chairperson of Research & Advocacy Standing Committee, Singapore Children’s Society

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls

Good morning.

1.I am delighted to be here this morning at the 2nd Singapore Children’s Forum. The forum is an excellent opportunity for children to take centre-stage and to let their voices be heard.

2.I did notice though, when I walked through the forum, that the decibel level was really about school starting later, no PSLE, longer recess hour, less homework and no school on weekend. We will have to think a little about those, but it is good to know what concerns our children. And it is good to know because our children are our future. They are the future of Singapore.

3.It is important to create a safe and conducive environment for them to learn and to grow. At the Ministry of Education, our focus is clear - we must deliver a student-centric, student-focus, values-driven education. So we focus on the child, and we focus on the values. This means that we put the child at the heart of all we do, and we help them build and deepen skills, instil good values in them, develop character and all of these, so that they can achieve their full potential.

4.MOE does this in many ways, but let me share, in particular, two ways in which we do this, especially for younger children:

  • First, one of the most important tasks is to help our children to enjoy learning. Learning should be a journey of discovery. It should be a joy, it should be something we want to do. It should not be a burden, it should not be something that we wonder if we really have to do it. But it should be something that we do because it opens doors, it opens minds, it opens the heart, and it opens the character. This way, we motivate them to learn, we help them see learning as a process that does not just happen in school, but throughout life. Hence, we also encourage learning through play. We start from a young age. In our MOE Kindergartens, the children learn motor skills such as running and sliding in a game setting. Then, in the Primary Schools, we have the Programme for Active Learning (PAL). This is where our students experience a range of very creative and fun ways to learn. But we don’t stop there. The play continues in our secondary schools and beyond. So you have the Co-Curricular Activities (CCA) in sports, in arts, in music or the uniformed groups, where our students learn in interesting and diverse ways.
  • The second aspect is our focus on Character and Citizenship Education (CCE). And this must start from young. We have recently rolled out the new CCE syllabus in both primary and secondary schools. We brought back the “Good Character, Good Citizen” textbook series, which those of you who take Chinese will remember as the “Hao Gong Min”. Through CCE, our children learn about the various roles they play such as a son or daughter, a friend, a neighbour, and they have discussions on what they can do to make a difference to the people around them. We also encourage families to come together to reinforce the learning experiences that our children have in school.

5.Prior to today’s forum, our young participants spent 3 days together, where they discussed issues surrounding the question “What makes children happy?”

6.This is a very interesting topic, even for adults. I wonder when the adults present ask themselves this question what the answers would be.

7.But as far as education is concerned, I have two hopes:

  • First, and this is linked to my first point earlier on the importance of play, I do hope that our children can find happiness in learning. If they find learning to be nothing but a burden, we will be bringing up a generation who do not have the passion and motivation to learn throughout life.
  • Second, I hope that even as our children seek their own happiness, they remember to be concerned about the happiness of others as well. Boys and girls, while you think about what makes you happy, don’t forget to think about others, don’t forget that you have the responsibility to improve the lives of those who are less fortunate than you. This can be done in simple ways, whether greeting your neighbours when you bump into them in the lift, taking part in Values in Action projects in school, or making a difference to your community in your own ways, big or small. You may have heard about the Pioneer Generation from your parents. Well, you will become the Pioneer Generation of tomorrow, and we are counting on you to make Singapore of the future a caring and gracious place

8.So I would like to commend all the students for taking part in the discussions, and the students and parents for being present here today. I understand that it must have been hard work preparing yourselves for today’s forum and I would like to congratulate everyone who took part for rising up to the challenge. And I look forward to hearing your views during the discussions later.

9.Let me conclude by thanking the Singapore Children’s Society for organising the forum. Once again, it is great pleasure to join you today and I wish all of you a fruitful and insightful session.

10.Thank you.

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