Speech by Mr Ng Chee Meng, Minister for Education (Schools) at the Girl Guides Singapore’s Centenary International Camp Opening Ceremony

Published Date: 18 November 2017 12:00 AM

News Speeches

1.A very good morning to all. A very warm welcome to our international participants from Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia, Maldives, Philippines and Thailand. I am delighted to be here at the official opening of the Girl Guides Singapore's Centenary International Camp, and to join all of you in celebrating this significant milestone of one hundred years of Girl Guiding in Singapore. Heartiest congratulations to all of you!

2. Firstly, I would like to commend Girl Guides Singapore on your many achievements over the last century. In fulfilling your mission of nurturing girls to reach their fullest potential, Girl Guides Singapore has touched the lives of many generations of Singapore girls and women who are today giving back to society in their own ways – whether it is at home, in the workplace and in the community.

3. As a Uniformed Group, you have left an indelible mark on Singapore's nation-building and community development efforts. With over 8,000 members in our primary and secondary schools today, Girl Guides Singapore continues to thrive, even after a 100 years, and remains engaging and relevant for all our youths.

Committed Volunteers, Dedicated Teachers

4. A key factor behind your achievements is a team of committed and dedicated adult leaders, teachers, staff and volunteers – past and present – who have given their time and talents to steer and support the Guiding movement. I understand that some who are present here today have served for many decades, the longest of whom have served for almost 70 years!

5. The success that Girl Guides Singapore has achieved is because of committed members like Mrs Anna Tham and Dr Eileen Aw who joined the 11th Company of the guides in 1949. Keen learners with an adventurous spirit, both of them progressed rapidly through the Guides programme as young girls. Mrs Tham became one of Singapore’s first three distinguished Queen’s Guides in 1951, and Dr Aw followed suit in 1955. With their passion burning strong for Guiding, Mrs Tham went on to serve as International Commissioner and Deputy Chief Commissioner of the Programme Committee, while Dr Aw served as Vice-President and later on President of the Trefoil Guild.

6. When asked why they continue to be actively involved in Girl Guides Singapore, they expressed simply that they have this shared belief that Guiding prepares girls for life by inculcating important values and life skills, and building independence, resilience, tenacity and character. It is because of this deep conviction that Guiding offers the best training to girls that they continue to give of their best to the Guiding movement.

7. Indeed, all of you have made a conscious effort to understand the needs of the young girls today and the demands of tomorrow’s world. I am happy to learn that you carefully design your programmes so as to develop girls holistically, nurturing them into leaders who possess the character traits and capabilities to make an impact in Singapore, ASEAN, and even the world stage in time to come.

8. For instance, one of the key aspects of the Girl Guides Singapore movement is Outdoor Education, where the girls have the opportunity to pitch tents and rough it out. While the going might get tough during the camp, through these new experiences, the girls will gain important lessons and make good friends who will support them in times of hardship.

9. Also important are programmes that develop empathy and civic-mindedness in our girls and allow them to put the values they have learnt into action. One example is the Warming Hearts and Bodies Project, where 230 Girl Guides and teachers sewed patches onto blankets donated by the Singapore Airlines. A total of 102 blankets were eventually donated to St John’s Home for Elderly Persons, bringing the beneficiaries much joy, and, of course, warmth. Hopefully their little acts of kindness now will become the seeds that will germinate into further contributions to the world.

Conclusion

10. As Girl Guides Singapore looks forward to the next 100 years, your motto “Be Prepared” is indeed what will move you forward. In our rapidly-changing and increasingly complex world, those with the strength of character who are adaptable, resilient, collaborative and innovative will thrive.

11. The mind-set, values and life skills that Girl Guiding fosters are in alignment with the objectives at what we are trying to do at MOE. We want to focus on values and character building, beyond academics. I would like the girls in this camp to learn and go through the process of embracing risk and developing the entrepreneurial dare – to want to better yourself and challenge your boundaries. Being cognizant of creating an environment where taking risk is encouraged, and where failure is accepted as a step towards learning, I hope the Girl Guides Singapore will partner MOE to develop a generation of youth who will be able to build an even more vibrant future for Singapore.

12. To all the camp participants, I wish you a very enjoyable, memorable and fruitful camping experience. May you form strong and lasting friendships with your fellow Guides, here and across borders. Together, you can lead and effect real change to build a better future for all of us.

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