Speech by Assoc Prof Dr Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Education & Ministry of Social and Family Development at The Singapore Polytechnic (SP) 56th Graduation Ceremony

Published Date: 05 May 2016 12:00 AM

News Speeches

Mr Tan Choon Shian, Principal and CEO, Singapore Polytechnic

Mr Bill Chang, Chairman, Singapore Polytechnic Board of Governors

Ms Mary Liew, President, National Trade Union Congress

Members of Singapore Polytechnic Board of Governors, Faculty and Alumni

Distinguished Guests

Parents and Graduands

Ladies and Gentlemen

1. A very good morning to one and all. My heartiest congratulations to the graduating class of 2016! Today, we are witnessing an important milestone for 324 graduands from the Singapore Maritime Academy (SMA). I am delighted to celebrate this special day with you, your families and loved ones, to mark your hard work and achievements as you embark on a new chapter in life.

2. You have all come a long way and I believe it would not have been possible without the guidance and support of your family members, friends and lecturers throughout your journey in Singapore Polytechnic. Let’s put our hands together for the staff of SP and all the parents and loved ones here today. () 3. When I came in earlier, I looked around and I saw happy faces. Besides our graduands, I think the happiest of all today are the parents of our graduands. As a Member of Parliament, I organise birthday celebrations for kindergarten children in my constituency every month. Having done it for so many years, I often see how kids would count down to the day of celebrations and how their family members would also look forward to it. Parents who are working would even take leave or time off to attend. I saw the love, care and concern that parents have for their children – it is sincere. I often share simple messages at these celebrations of how kids should always love and care for their parents and grandparents, and how they should think of ways that would make their parents’ and grandparents’ day. Parents look forward to the many milestones that our children experience. They celebrate our achievements and stand by us when we face challenges in life. They are the happiest people today celebrating your achievements. Most importantly, they want the best for you in your life. I know that some of you are shy in expressing your emotions to your parents, but I think they will appreciate a simple ‘thank-you’ to them for bringing you up to who you are today. So I hope you will join me to continue appreciating our parents in our journey in life.

4. Let me continue my speech by sharing two inspiring stories of your peers here today, who are graduating from different SP courses this year. I hope it encourages you as much as it did for me.

Well-rounded SP Graduates

5. Glenn Ng, the recipient of the Tay Eng Soon Gold Medal from the Diploma in Information Technology, is someone who strove for excellence in all aspects of student life, demonstrating persistence in academic pursuit and outstanding leadership abilities. Glenn took a longer route than usual on his education journey. Being born dyslexic, he had to work doubly hard in ITE to maintain a consistently good GPA to qualify for a polytechnic. After admission to SP, he continued to strive for excellence, and received the Director’s Roll of Honour and the SP Model Student Award. For his outstanding academic achievements, Glenn was placed on the Singapore Management University’s (SMU) Advanced Placement Programme.

6. Glenn was also very active in his CCAs, serving as a Microsoft Student Partner, an organising member of the Microsoft Technical Workshop and the organising Chairman of the TechFest@ Singapore Polytechnic event. As a student leader, he planned and executed various campus activities to help develop the IT capabilities of other students, and inspired his peers to immerse themselves in external activities such as industry networking sessions and hackathons.

7. I am told that Glenn plans to pursue a degree in Information Systems at SMU after National Service. His aspiration is to create solutions to benefit businesses and the community. In fact, Glenn has already seen his dream come true and I am very happy that we have made it possible for him to achieve what he aspires to be. Together with a course mate, he has started a company to develop customised IT solutions for organisations. We wish him all the best in his future pursuits and dreams. I hope he will achieve what he dreams and that most importantly his journey will be a very meaningful one.

8. Another graduand present today is Indrasyah Putera Kudsi Dulkifli. He is someone who chose his path not by convention, but by his conviction and passion. Indrasyah has a strong interest in engineering and has always wanted to understand how things work. With his mother’s support, he chose a diploma in Marine Engineering over a junior college education. Based on the exposure and experience gleaned during his three years in the SMA, Indrasyah believes that the maritime sector is a thriving industry that provides a vast array of career opportunities.

9. Indrasyah’s inquisitive nature and outgoing personality have helped him excel in his studies and CCAs. I am told that he even made a solo trip to Cambodia on a self-discovery journey, where he met people from different parts of the world and learnt to appreciate life and the conveniences of modern Singapore.

10. Indrasyah faced his greatest challenge during his third year of study, where he had to complete his Final Year Project while organising a national-level rock-climbing competition. In addition, he was responsible for taking care of his 84-year-old grandfather who had suddenly taken ill from a fall. Nonetheless, he persevered. In recognition of his academic and co-curricular achievements, Indrasyah was awarded the “Model Student Award”. And we wish his grandfather a speedy recovery.

11. It is heartening to hear of Glenn’s and Indrasyah’s stories. They encourage us to continue the meaningful work of nurturing our young, providing them with more pathways, opportunities and exposure in life. I am sure there are many more stories like those of Glenn and Indrasyah among us, because each and every one of us has different pathways. We face different opportunities and challenges. But most importantly, you have been able to reap the benefits from all these opportunities and challenges.

SkillsFuture

12. Everyone, like Glenn and Indrasyah, deserves the opportunities to pursue their passions, fulfil their aspirations and develop to their fullest potential regardless of their starting point. It is with this belief that we launched the SkillsFuture movement in 2015. SkillsFuture also calls for Singaporeans to develop deep skills and achieve mastery in their respective fields of interest. Our Institutes of Higher Learning have responded positively to this call.

13. I commend SP’s strong commitment to this movement through its Earn & Learn Programmes (ELPs) and enhancements to internships in the various industry sectors, including Maritime.

14. For the maritime sector, SMA is the Sector Coordinator. As Sector Coordinator, SMA plays a central role in driving and coordinating engagements between our institutions and industry for their respective sectors, to strengthen linkages and synergy between study and work. SMA has thus partnered MOE, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) and WDA to launch several initiatives to support the SkillsFuture movement.

15. Firstly, SP has launched an ELP for Maritime (Deck Officer) and (Marine Engineer) for the Diploma in Nautical Studies (DNS) and the Diploma in Marine Engineering graduates that commenced last month. Upon completion of the ELP, MPA would issue letters of eligibility for participants to attend the Certificate of Competency Preparatory Courses at SMA. The companies participating in this ELP include ship owning and ship management companies.

16. SMA will also launch an ELP for graduates from the Diploma in Maritime Business (DMB) as well as other maritime and logistics-related courses. The programme will commence this June, leading to a “Specialist Diploma in Port Management and Operations” qualification. The two companies participating in this ELP are Port of Singapore Authority and Jurong Port.

17. It is important to expose our students to a real work environment when they are in school, so that they can transit better to the workplace later on. For this purpose, internships are an integral component of the courses offered by our polytechnics and ITE. To ensure that students take on more meaningful work activities during their internships, our polytechnics and ITE are working with employers to enhance their internship programmes. Some of these enhancements include clearer learning outcomes, better mentorship, and where relevant, extended durations of the attachments.

18. A pilot group of Year 2 DMB students commenced their six-month enhanced internships in March this year. Each year, we will see about 70 students embarking on internships every March and September. DNS students would embark on their year-long Sea Training internships from October 2016, with about 60 students taking part every year.

19. We hope that these initiatives can prepare our polytechnic and ITE graduates better for the workforce, and equip them with the necessary skills for the ever-changing economy. SP has indeed contributed much to the Singapore workforce; over the years, it has remained true to its motto of serving with skill. It is this attraction of learning practical skills, creating new inventions and improving everyday processes, that has brought many young bright minds into SP.

Strong Industry Support

20. SkillsFuture calls for a collective effort among institutions, industries and the community. We are appreciative of the strong support from the maritime industry, namely the shipping companies, MPA as well as organisations such as the Singapore Maritime Foundation (SMF) and Singapore Shipping Association.

21. Their contributions have come in various forms such as offering internship placements, sponsorships and scholarships as well as providing valuable industry feedback to improve our curriculum. Students and graduates can also tap into the various financial assistance schemes available such as MPA’s Maritime Cluster Fund (MCF) and SMF’s MaritimeONE scholarship scheme.

22. The maritime industry has provided many opportunities for SMA students to pursue their dreams. For instance, Nurul Ardilla was one of the few female cadets in the DNS course who chose to join SP to follow her passion for adventure. Her sailing internship had exposed her to many countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, China and India. She even had the privilege of sailing on board the STS Pallada, a traditional Russian sailing tall ship, to Brunei.

23. Chia Xinyi was another student who benefited from the industry’s support. Xinyi was a recipient of the SMA-MaritimeONE scholarship which helped to finance her studies in the DMB. She was also invited to seminars, workshops and networking events where she learnt about the crucial issues, developments and strategies in the maritime industry. I am told that these interactions left lasting impressions and that she is eager to contribute to the Singapore maritime sector.

24. It is heartening to know that many of our SP alumni are doing well in the industry with several prominent individuals choosing to contribute in their personal capacities, and we thank them for supporting our students in their educational journey.

  1. Mr Goh Teik Poh, Managing Director of Global Maritime Talent Pte Ltd who graduated in 1983. He is a member of SP Board of Governors and chairs SMA’s Maritime Industry Advisory Committee (MIAC). He also contributes to scholarships for students. Thank you, Mr Goh.
  2. And we also have Mr Ong Poh Kwee, Chief Operating Officer of Sembcorp Marine Ltd, graduated in 1982 and now serves on SMA’s MIAC. Thank you, Mr Ong.
  3. And my next example is Dato’ Ramasamy Ramesh, Chairman of RAM Investments Pte Ltd who graduated in 1975. He donates prize awards for top graduates and provides financial assistance to needy SMA students.

And there are many more alumni who have contributed to the industry and our students. Let’s give them a big round of applause to thank them.

25. Over the years, we have provided good educational journey for our people. Singaporeans have benefited a great deal from this journey started by our pioneers like the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew and his fellow colleagues. Together with our forefathers, they have worked very hard to build what Singapore is today. I mentioned earlier the different opportunities that we have, the different pathways that you can take and the different careers that you can have. All these do not come easily; they come with the commitment, passion and the belief of wanting to build better lives for our people. These are the result of the hard work and the vision of our pioneers, which we should be thankful for and appreciative of.

26. As we embark on SkillsFuture, I am convinced this is the best way ahead. We may not always be able to find a perfect system in reality, but it is important to ensure the right ideals and vision to achieve the best for our people. So, in Singapore, if you look at what we are developing and how we are refining the educational journey for our people, initiatives like SkillsFuture and the Aptitude Based Admission provide a holistic avenue for our people through courses that they have an interest and passion in.

27. As we move ahead, you will graduate and have different journeys in your life. Although you will continue to be in the maritime industry, you will join different companies and hold different positions. Yet, all of you are leaders in your own way. Singapore Polytechnic, your lecturers, the industry, your parents and the community have come together to create all these opportunities and pathways for you. These include the Earn and Learn Programme and Enhanced Internship that will help you to develop in your area of interest. We hope these will help you to develop your skills and mastery, and ultimately bring you satisfaction. When you are good at what you do and enjoy doing it, it will bring you happiness.

28. So, as you grow and develop in your respective areas, I hope you will continue this journey of developing the best in people. If you are in the industry, give the fullest support to the different initiatives that institutions like the Singapore Polytechnic aspire to provide the students. If you are an educator, give the best to your students and explore all the different avenues and networks in the industry to provide the best for them. We can all play our part. When our students are well prepared, better equipped and are happy at what they do, this will ultimately be good for Singapore.

Conclusion

29. Finally, to our graduating class today, I wish you the very best as you seek out new opportunities and unleash your potential within. This is but the start of an exciting journey that awaits you. Learning does not end today; learning is for life. I hope that you will continue to stay curious, passionate and resilient as you pursue your dreams and aspirations in life.

30. Congratulations once again to you and your parents!

Thank you.

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