Speech by A/P Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Education, at the Open House of A.P.T.I.T.U.D.E Centre, ITE College East

Published Date: 19 July 2017 12:00 AM

News Speeches

Mr James Tan, Chief Executive Director of TOUCH Community Services,

Dr Yek Tiew Ming, Principal of ITE College East

Mr Melvyn Low, Head of Treasury and Trade Solutions, Citi ASEAN and Singapore

Professor Albert Teo, Director of the Chua Thian Poh Community Leadership Programme, NUS

Colleagues, students,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Good afternoon.


1. I would like to thank TOUCH Community Services for inviting me to join you today at the Open House for the A.P.T.I.T.U.D.E Centre. This has been an enlightening afternoon.

2. It is heartening to see such enthusiasm amongst our youth. The youths are very passionate about what they have learnt and what they do. This goes to show how far you can go when you embrace and pursue your passions. Therefore, it is good to provide opportunities for our youth to uncover and embrace their passion.

In Pursuit of Passion

3. It is easy to lose sight of who you are when there is always the next deadline to meet. As students, your days are filled with lessons, projects and team discussions. There will be homework, and for some of you, part-time work, after school. With so many constraints on your time, you may forget why you chose this path to begin with. Today, we have multiple pathways for our students so there are more choices for our students to pursue their passion.

4. Some of you may have heard of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. At the basic level, we need to be able to eat, to drink, to breathe. These are survival needs. One step above that, we need to have a safe place to rest. These are basic needs, and the reason why people work – to obtain basic necessities. So we find ways to make ourselves useful and employable, so that we can obtain money to buy food and afford shelter.

5. But what makes us human is our unique need to find meaning in what we do. Finding fulfilment in what we do is something unique that humans seek. In our daily grind, it is easy to neglect this need. I have heard many people say “I want to get a good job, so that I can earn money”. But this only fulfils that basic need. What happens when those are met, and yet you continue to feel lost and unfulfilled? Most who are seeking satisfaction, turn to contributing back to society. They would do community services. The more they give, the happier they are. Even for those who are not wealthy, they will also contribute their time and money. That makes them happy. Therefore, it is not simply about the basic needs and earning a living. We may have different paths, but we can all contribute. When we do what we are most passionate about, we will find the biggest satisfaction.

6. This is the importance of passion. At the heart of passion is the sense of fulfilling your unique personal potential. And while your interests may be wide-ranging, it is important to identify the common thread that ties them together, because that can help you identify your passion. Let me give you an example from today.

7. I met two students at the barista booth just now, Muhammad Sulaiman Bin Bujang and Roxanne Ng. They enjoy making coffee. Sulaiman has found meaning in his practice as barista. Singaporeans love our caffeine, and coffee-making is a skill, one that maybe I need to practise more for. So Sulaiman focused on perfecting this skill, on top of his studies in Mechanical Technology. He tells me that he aspires to be a barista, even as he keeps his options open to a career in engineering. He is training as an engineer, so why does he find himself drawn to the beverage industry? In my conversation with Sulaiman just now, he told me that he enjoyed the mechanics and rules of making good coffee, of how each type of bean produces a unique flavour. This matches the precision required of engineers. This is the heart of his passion and his aptitudes: the strive for certainties.

8. More than knowing the things or activities you are interested in, like coffee-making, it is also important to know the underlying passion that drives these interests, such as the strive for certainties, for example. You can take service and the desire to help others, and find many other skills to support this need in yourself, and many professions which you can channel this passion into. And by mastering these skills, not only do you meet your basic needs, but you also meet these higher-order self-actualisation ones. But you must first find out what drives you.

The Role of Education and Career Guidance

9. The education and career landscape today is diverse – more so compared to that of your parents’ time. Against this backdrop, it is important that students like yourselves are guided in discovering and better understanding your strengths and interests. With that in mind, Education and Career Guidance (ECG) has been strengthened across the education system to better support you to make informed choices about the pathway that is best suited for you. For example, some of you may know that there are ECG Counsellors that you can speak to if you have any questions or concerns about the pathways that are available to help you achieve your aspirations. Some may have many choices while others may not. ECG can help in navigating and making the correct decisions. It is therefore important to discover your passion. When you love what you do, it is not a chore but your life! You will enjoy the challenges you face and you will not give up so easily.

10. Organisations like TOUCH Community Services are invaluable and complement the efforts to strengthen ECG. By giving youths like yourself the opportunity to try out and develop skills in different activities outside of the classroom, they help our youth discover their passions and explore them deeper. And the better we know what we are passionate about, the more likely we will be able to make good choices when deciding what education or career path to take next. As we journey through life, it becomes even more important that we learn how to sustain ourselves throughout life, through learning more about who we are, and what drives us beyond short-term goals of meeting deadlines. Once we know what drives us, we can then take steps to gain experience and develop our competencies in that area, and pursue mastery in it. If we do not give opportunities and provide support to our youths, they may not grow and optimise their potential.

11. So allow me to thank TOUCH, ITE and Citi Foundation for your efforts in engaging our youth and providing such a warm and vibrant environment to grow, discover their passions and realise their potential. We can feel assured that we are doing something right for our youth.


12. Thank you for inviting me to your Open House today. It has been a pleasant afternoon, and I wish you all the best in the pursuit of your passions.

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