Speech by Associate Professor Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim at the School Green Awards Presentation Ceremony

Published Date: 05 November 2015 12:00 AM

News Speeches

Chairman of Singapore Environment Council,
Ms Isabella Loh;

Executive Director of Singapore Environment Council,
Mr Edwin Seah;

Assistant Vice-President, Corporate Communications of StarHub Ltd,
Ms Caitlin Fua;

Teachers and Students;

Ladies and gentlemen,

A very good afternoon to all of you. It gives me great pleasure to be here to present the Singapore Environment Council’s SEC-StarHub School Green Awards 2015 (SGA). The awards recognize schools for being outstanding in promoting environmental awareness and participation among our students.

Like many cities around the world, Singapore has been placing increasing emphasis on building a liveable and sustainable Singapore for the future. Our children should learn from young to appreciate and protect the natural environment. When our children grow up to be environmentally conscious citizens, they help to create a better environment for our future. Much of that learning begins in school.

Our children grow that appreciation for the environment both in and outside the classroom. In class, students learn about the environment through subjects such as Science, Social Studies and Geography. Outside the classroom, students have the opportunity to take part in the green effort through environmental clubs, programmes, and activities.

Our partners like the Singapore Environmental Council, play a crucial role in providing more opportunities and supporting our children’s learning outside the classroom. It takes a pro-active role in environmental education in schools through the School Green Awards Programme.

The School Green Awards have been expanded to encourage greater participation across all age groups, including ITE, polytechnics and universities, schools for students with special needs and pre-schools. It is very encouraging that all applications from pre-schools and special needs schools have increased above 50% and schools receiving the Lotus Sustained Achievement Award, an award given to schools who have received the Lotus Award for three consecutive years, have increased by 24%. Such increasing rates signify a positive trend; increasing partnerships with schools bring about more learning for our students, and cultivate their sense of responsibility towards the environment. The School Green Awards Programme started in the year 2000 with 28 schools. Today, we see 376 institutions participating in the competition! Wow, more than a 10-fold increase! I congratulate all of you here.

There are ways for every child to become curious and aware about the environment, no matter how young you may be. Let me share the example of Far Eastern Kindergarten’s ‘Carton Character Day’. Today, Far Eastern Kindergarten receives the Daisy Award. The school celebrated the end of the school term with a ‘Carton Character Day’, a day in which children and their parents went to school in props and costumes made from unwanted recyclables. In organising such an activity, the Kindergarten did not just engage the children, but their families as well. This goes beyond textbooks and classroom learning; it gives the children an excellent opportunity to learn about recycling through hands-on activities, and provides parents a fun and enjoyable way to teach their children about the environment.

I’m also delighted to know that some of our schools have been inspiring awareness of the environment in our children for many years. Children in schools like Woodgrove Secondary School and East View Primary School have been immersed in green efforts for some time now. Woodgrove Secondary School has been participating in the School Green Awards since the year 2000. East View Primary School got their first award back in 2005. Today, both schools not only receive the Lotus Sustained Achievement Award, but also take pride at having received the prominent President’s Award for the Environment! Both schools have even garnered the ASEAN Eco-Schools Award, which started from a programme aimed at ASEAN schools, to create a culture geared toward environmental protection and preservation. Such encouraging news illustrates the will and effort of the schools and their students, in doing their part to promote environmental awareness, and encouraging environmental conservation.

I look forward to the School Green Awards continuing its efforts to encourage learning through hands-on, interactive and perspective-driven programmes. Through such programmes, we have seen an estimated reduction of 15% in water consumption, 11% in paper usage, 9% in e-waste disposal and 4% in electricity usage. All these are the results of all the principals, teachers and representatives who work hard to support our environment. Beyond the winning of awards, I am very glad to be among school leaders and educators, community partners and students, who inspire others and themselves to be great citizens who protect the environment for future generations.

I’ve been thinking about the issues of our environment, thinking about what we’ve been doing all these years. I applaud the efforts of SEC, together with STARHUB and our partners because such an effort has not only been sustained, but most importantly it has the opportunity to create a greater impact on our society. When you care for the environment, you feel for planet Earth. The bigger message is that you care for fellow mankind; you care for the people around you; you care for the people who care for you. And most importantly, to me, you care for Singapore. We may be a red dot, but what is important is that we have people with values. This makes us a big nation even though we are just a small red dot.

And beyond that, we started young because we want it to be part of the lifestyle of our young children. When they grow old, when they start working, when they get married with children, they in turn will nurture our future generation. This will also ensure that Singapore continues to be supported by people with good character and good values, who have the minds to look after the environment. When that process is being internalised in our hearts and minds, it is something we cannot buy easily. It is something that is very deeply founded, very deeply rooted within our people. That will bring a greater benefit to all of us here in Singapore.

So I hope we will continue this journey. It is a never ending journey. We continue to face challenges with respect to the environment, day by day, month by month, decades by decades, if you look at how the world has evolved. Our efforts will need to be continued.

What is also important is I’m very happy to see creative elements being injected, to give opportunities to our young people to think out of the box, to think of creative ways how they can promote environmental actions or sustainable actions that can be carried out by every one of us. Sometimes, when we see what our children think and do, it’s wonderful. That’s the beautiful minds of our young children.

Once again, I would like to thank all of you for making the effort. I sincerely appreciate all your efforts because your efforts bring a lot of meaning to our students, a lot of meaning to mankind, no matter how small or how big it is. With all of you, it makes the whole puzzle complete. Without you, it can never be complete. For it to be sustainable, for us to continue living on this earth, we need a complete puzzle.

And for that, I sincerely thank you.

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