Speech by Associate Professor Dr Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Education, at the National Youth Achievement Award Ceremony 2019

Published Date: 03 April 2019 12:00 AM

News Speeches

Commissioner of Prisons, Mr Desmond Chin,

NYAA Council Chairman, Mr Teo Ser Luck,

Award recipients and family members,

Good morning.

Introduction

1. I am very happy and honoured to join you today, and I want to congratulate the National Youth Achievement Award or NYAA participants on completing the programme.

The NYAA Programme

2. In 2000, the NYAA programme was first introduced to youths within the Prison School. The programme was subsequently extended to the youths in the Women’s Prison.

3. The programme’s objectives remain true, even till today. It aims to encourage self-reliance, perseverance and a sense of responsibility to oneself, to society and to the nation.

4. In 2018, I was heartened to learn that 128 of you participated in NYAA, and were involved in a range of activities that include community service with Be Kind SG and sports such as touch-rugby clinics conducted by volunteers from Born2Be. Specifically, for the community service project, the colouring sheets which you have drawn are good engagement tools for the Senior Activities Centres to meaningfully engage the elderlies in their centres.

“Pilot your Life, Soar to Greater Heights”

5. This year’s theme is “Pilot your Life, Soar to Greater Heights”. It’s a very appropriate theme, and I find it very touching.

6. For the first time, the Singapore Prison Service also introduced the Train-the-Trainer’s model whereby the Prison Officers were trained by Singapore Adventurers’ Club to impart outdoor survival skill-sets to the NYAA participants. This provided an additional opportunity for the Prison Officers to build rapport with yourselves.

7. Indeed, the various NYAA activities have helped you to realise this year’s theme, which is “Pilot your Life, Soar to Greater Heights”.

8. You were exposed to new experiences, whether it is participating in community service for the first time, trying a new sport, or getting involved in an outdoor activity. Through these experiences, you have become more self-aware; what you are good at, what are your shortcomings and how to improve those areas. Such awareness will allow you to have better control over your life.

9. This year, I am proud to announce that we have two NYAA gold awardees - Michael and Ahmad (not their real names). Let me share their stories about how they took charge of their lives.

10. Michael was misguided by bad company and was involved in gang activities. His family visited him regularly, prompting him to reflect on his life – what does he wish to achieve in life, what are his dreams and aspirations. Michael decided to change for good so that he would not disappoint his family.

11. He renounced his ties from his gang and took up the Educational Pathway offered by the Prison School. Michael started off with General Education and progressed to complete his GCE ‘N’ and ‘O’ Levels in the Prison School. He did well in his ‘O’ levels, scoring distinction for his Principles of Account. Currently, he is pursuing his GCE ‘A’ levels. Michael is also determined to pick up new skills during his incarceration and has signed up for NYAA. He will receive his Gold Award today.

12. Next, is Ahmad. Ahmad was involved in rioting and breach of probation in 2017, which landed him in Reformative Training Centre. It was only when his mother became ill and subsequently suffered a stroke that he realised the need to turn his life around for the sake of his family. Despite having a PSLE certificate, he was undeterred to pursue knowledge and upgrade himself. He proceeded to further his studies with Prison School and obtained his NT certificate in 2018. Like Michael, he signed up for NYAA and will receive his Gold Award today.

13. As part of the Gold Award requirement, both Michael and Ahmad embarked on a project to produce a foot reflexology mat that were presented to CARElderly for their residents’ use at their centre.

14. Michael and Ahmad, I am sincerely proud of you. You have shown us what it means to take charge of your own destiny and work towards realising your dreams. It takes hard work and sheer determination, and both of you have made significant progress. I hope you will continue to stay in the pilot’s seat, taking charge of your life even after the programme.

Appreciation to the Family Members and NYAA Community Partners

15. I want to also rally and encourage all of us here to take charge of our lives and our pilot seats. This will give us a renewed view of where we are today and what is to come. No one is perfect; we all have our own strengths and weaknesses. It is important for us to value our strengths, and at the same time, close the gaps in our weaknesses.

16. For my friends here, I would like to urge you to be patient. It takes time to achieve what we want. We cannot expect what we want to be achieved within a short period of time. At times, when the opportunity arises, we grab it. But many times, we need to be patient.

17. We also need to stay humble in life. Life is a long journey, and you are still very young. It is important for you to have that horizon of looking far in achieving what you want, but to also remain patient and humble in doing so.

18. Now I also want to thank the family members who have stood alongside and supported the NYAA participants. Your support and constant encouragement are important to their rehabilitation journey. I sincerely want to thank you; I understand it is not easy for you.

19. I also want to acknowledge the contributions of our community partners. By coming on board, you have helped our NYAA participants realise their self-worth and led them to recognise that they too, can contribute back to society regardless of their past actions.

20. I would like to give special thanks to the Singapore Adventurers’ Club, Be Kind SG, CARElderly and Born2Be for your partnership in the NYAA programme. It takes a village to raise a child, and this is the spirit we are seeing. I sincerely thank all of you, and I hope you will continue to support this very meaningful and noble effort, because every Singaporean counts.

21. I’d also like to share one more thing with the NYAA participants before I end. I see your family members with us today. They never gave up on you, and they see you as their children and their family. I hope that in turn you will appreciate what they are doing for you. Never forget them. Wherever you are, they will always love and care for you and want to invest in you. It’s only fair that you play your part.

Conclusion

22. I want to congratulate all of you again. I wish you all the best in your future endeavours, as you continue to pilot your life towards greater heights.

23. Thank you.

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