Speech by Mr Ong Ye Kung, Acting Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) at the Bestari Award Presentation Ceremony

Published Date: 25 November 2015 12:00 AM

News Speeches

Mr Izzuddin Taherally, President of the Malay Youth Literary Association (4PM)

Mr Bruce Poh, CEO of the Institute of Technical Education,

Parliamentary Colleagues,

Directors and Teachers

Award Recipients


Ladies and Gentlemen

I am very happy to join you at the Malay Youth Literary Association, or 4PM’s Bestari Award presentation ceremony today. The award ceremony recognizes outstanding Malay/Muslim students from the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) who have performed exceptionally well, both in their studies and in their co-curricular activities.

Your Journey In SkillsFuture

Earlier this month, I was just at a signing ceremony where more than 100 employers signed agreements to enhance internships for ITE students. Two days ago, I was at the Young Talent-Market Immersion Programme where employers signed an agreement with polytechnics, and in time to come with ITE, to offer overseas internships. So, the ITE programme is getting richer and better. These are initiatives under the SkillsFuture movement. Under this movement, we will develop our education system to help students discover and develop your passions and aspirations; learning throughout life; and go beyond chasing paper qualifications, to achieving skills mastery regardless of your starting point. We want to inculcate great pride in all of us and all our young people, to be skilled in your craft, whether you are a designer, precision engineering worker, landscape artist, aerospace technician, digital animator, chef, seafarer, healthcare worker, early childhood educator, and so on. You have to be a master in each field that you choose to go into. At the same time, society will also recognise the accomplishment of our craftsmen and hold them in high regard.

For the past two days, we hosted a special visitor, the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi. Yesterday, we visited ITE College Central together with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. I asked PM Modi on his visit last night while sending him off. He remarked that it was excellent and added that the visit to ITE College Central was the most memorable. I think this is an accomplishment by ITE’s students and staff to have left such a deep impression on leaders from other countries. What we did not mention to PM Modi is that ITE is only one part of SkillsFuture. Beyond ITE, you can go on to do a diploma, as many of you are already doing, and beyond that, maybe move on to do a degree at the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT).

But a craft takes a whole career to master. You must be passionate about it, apply yourself and make a dedicated effort to sharpen your skills all the time. So the first step is to be self-aware - know yourself, your greatest strengths and weaknesses, and what you would like to achieve and how you like to contribute to the community around us. If you can do that, you would have made a strong start to your SkillsFuture journey.

Partnership Between ITE and 4PM

ITE and 4PM have been working closely for almost a decade to engage more than 25,000 ITE students through programmes such as Project Bestari ITE, Ecube and FRENZ. These programmes help youths from various backgrounds build confidence, character, creativity and competence. Through the programmes, youth are given platforms to contribute their ideas, develop leadership qualities and overcome challenges.

I am heartened to hear that these opportunities have empowered our young people to rise above your challenges, improve yourselves and give back to the community. For instance, Muhd Razin, from ITE College West, used to be unmotivated, unfocused in class, with a poor attendance record. After participating in FRENZ, he grew more positive and took part in class activities more actively. He is now on track in his studies for a Technical Engineering Diploma. He is still an active volunteer with 4PM in a community service project, called Ramadan On Wheels, an annual community service project for the needy families, and contributes back to the FRENZ programme as a mentor.

In another example, Muhd Saufi Bin Abdul Rasid received the 4PM Bestari Outstanding Student Award in 2007. Saufi was a NITEC student in Electrical and Electronics Engineering course at ITE College East. Back then, he was involved in Project Bestari ITE as a mentor for ITE students. He motivated his mentees to attend school and tutored them in their subjects. He also volunteered in the Reading Support Programme, where he guided kids from the ages of four to six years old in reading and phonics. Saufi was also actively involved in 4PM’s Ramadan On Wheels. Today, Saufi serves as one of 4PM’s Management Committee Members.

They are only two of many individuals whom 4PM and ITE have helped to take charge of their lives for the better. The partnership between 4PM and ITE has resulted in profound changes in young lives, with far-reaching consequences in their future. Through your programmes, I hope that more youths will be encouraged to do well, and to appreciate that there is a lifelong journey full of learning opportunities ahead.


Today, 45 young men and women have received the Bestari Award. Some of you are pursuing your Higher Nitec courses while others may be pursuing your diploma courses in the polytechnics. There are many pathways ahead for you to choose, for you to build meaningful, long-term careers, and for you to master skills and live a life to be proud of. You are makers of Singapore’s future as well as your own. I would like to thank the Principals, Lecturers, 4PM Management Committee and staff for enabling and empowering these students.

Thank you very much.

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