Speech by Mr Ng Chee Meng, Minister for Education (Schools) at The Girls’ Brigade Singapore 90th Anniversary

Published Date: 08 April 2017 12:00 AM

News Speeches

1. A very good afternoon. I am very happy to join you to celebrate The Girls’ Brigade’s (GB) 90th anniversary. The parade we just witnessed is indeed a fitting tribute to past and current GB members for the excellent work done over the years.

2. Let me first congratulate GB on 90 years of contributions and achievements. It has grown to comprise more than 4,000 members in 80 primary and secondary schools today. Since the first company was founded at Methodist Girls’ School in 1927, GB has grown from strength to strength. Thousands of girls have benefited from the different activities that you have organised, and many have grown to become leaders today.

3. I am glad that the GB continues to play a vital role in inculcating values and shaping our young girls into well-rounded individuals. Through meaningful learning opportunities – such as the annual GB Friendship Day – GB members move out of their comfort zones, and do things differently to attend to the needs of the people, particularly the Lonely, Elderly, Needy and Special needs people or, LENS in short.

4. Through these outside-of-classroom experiences, GB members learn to:

  • Embody values like care, empathy and responsibility as they serve the community;
  • Develop resilience and tenacity that will help them navigate challenges in life; and
  • Grow as a leaders with a heart for Singapore.

All these are important qualities for us to build a socially cohesive and inclusive Singapore.

Serving the Community

5. For example, in one of the interaction sessions with the LENS community, GB member, Daisy Su from Westwood Secondary School, noticed an elderly lady looking displeased. Learning that the elderly was not given a goodie bag, Daisy quickly found and passed one to the elderly. Daisy also took the extra step to talk to the elderly, and got the elderly to be comfortable with her, eventually bringing a smile back to the elderly’s face.

6. This was an important lesson on empathy, care, and compassion for Daisy, as she learnt that the elderly was not just concerned about the goodie bag; it was the love, care and attention that the elderly appreciated. I am sure that many of you who have participated in GB Friendship Day would have similar takeaways: touching hearts and endearing yourself to people who need your attention.

7. I am also heartened to learn that students from Bukit Batok Secondary School and Unity Secondary School were inspired by their learning experiences in GB, and went on to seek opportunities beyond those provided by GB. The two schools overcame many challenges and spearheaded a Values-in-Action Project to help the elderly living in Geylang Bahru to spring clean for Chinese New Year. Their initiative and acts of kindness transformed unkempt living spaces into clean homes, allowing the elderly to celebrate comfortably with their loved ones.

8. Our girls serve without expecting anything in return. From these experiences, the enduring reward that they gained is – not CCA points – but giving something to somebody who needs it. It is only through giving that one can enjoy such rewards. By giving, I hope the intrinsic satisfaction of having made a difference to someone will encourage all of you to continue doing so in the future.

Leading the community

9. The servant leadership model adopted by GB has indeed impacted many girls over the decades. Ms Caryn Ong, Deputy Brigade Commissioner and a teacher-officer in Kheng Cheng School, has been with GB since the age of 10. Through GB, she found her passion in serving others.

10. Caryn told me that she has a role model, Mrs Tay Poh Imm. Mrs Tay has taught a few generations of girls from GB, and was Caryn’s teacher when she was in Methodist Girls’ School. She also taught Mrs Evangeline Chong, whose daughters are now in GB, and would be receiving awards later. Three generations and different branches of influence — each of them, by doing their part, made disproportionate changes and touched people’s hearts.

11. For the young ones here today, I hope the role modelling provided by your teacher officers and volunteer officers will bring you towards a learning journey. Like Mrs Tay and Caryn, all of you can develop into wonderful adults too. In GB, there are many opportunities for you to develop your leadership potential. There are so many dedicated professionals and teachers at GB, so I hope that you will grow up, serve well, extend your influence beyond GB and lead in the wider community, to build a socially inclusive and cohesive Singapore.

GB’s role in the SGSecure movement

12. As a Uniformed Group, GB also has an important role in the SGSecure movement. Terrorism is not something that is far away from our shores. To maintain an environment that is secure and safe, we should never take our peace for granted.

13. As GB members, we need you to lead in the advocacy of SGSecure messages to our community, and to your classmates. This is so that they can understand the important roles the individual can play; the community can play; and all of us can play to make sure that we do not fall prey to danger. I am very happy GB is working with MOE to incorporate SGSecure into your programme.

New Vision

14. I’m also happy to be given the honour to launch GB’s new vision, “Extend. Serve. Lead”, today. I believe that GB will create many opportunities for our girls to: Extend – to go beyond themselves; to extend their influence to Serve; and Lead the community.

Conclusion

15. Today is a happy celebration of GB’s excellent work over the past 90 years – touching hearts and transforming many lives. I wish you continued success as you carry on the wonderful work of nurturing caring and concerned citizens for Singapore.

Share this article: