Speech by Minister for Education, Mr Lawrence Wong, at the Ngee Ann Polytechnic Graduation Ceremony

Published Date: 03 May 2021 11:00 AM

News Speeches

Mr Tang Kin Fei, Chairman, Ngee Ann Polytechnic Council

Mr Clarence Ti, Principal, Ngee Ann Polytechnic

Mr Lim Kok Kiang, Principal (Designate), Ngee Ann Polytechnic

Ngee Ann Polytechnic Council members

Parents and family members


1. A very good morning to all of you. I am very happy to join you for Ngee Ann Polytechnic's Graduation Ceremony today.

2. We have in our audience now the graduands from the Diploma in Business Studies and Diploma in International Logistics & Supply Chain Management, as well as the pioneer batch of graduands from the Diploma in International Trade & Business. My heartiest congratulations to all of you on the successful completion of your diploma studies!

3. I would like to acknowledge also the contributions of your lecturers, family and friends, who have supported you each step of your journey in NP. While not all of them can physically attend the ceremony today, I am sure they are cheering you on through the live streaming and are very proud of your achievements.

4. I know it has not been easy for everyone to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. We have all had to adjust to the new safety requirements and adapt our way of life. For example, last year, we had to do away with graduation ceremonies altogether. This year we are fortunately able to carry out the ceremonies, but with additional Safe Management Measures. Obviously, as you can see, it is not the same as the large-scale ceremonies we are used to. Many new restrictions are in place. But at least we can see each other in person, be it in a smaller group and with safe distancing, and we are able to recognise the achievements of all our graduating students.

5. We have been dealing with this COVID-19 situation for more than a year and the fight against the virus continues. We are now facing another rise in cases in the community, and we may have to impose additional measures to control the spread of the virus. I hope everyone understands and will be mentally prepared for this. It is critical that we continue to work together to keep the situation under control, as we have been doing all this while.

6. COVID-19 has impacted not only Singapore but all countries around the word on a significant scale. But at some point, the pandemic will pass. The global economy will recover, and there will be new opportunities ahead of us.

7. Countries everywhere will want to build back better, greener and stronger. There will be new fields to look forward to, such as in the area of sustainability, where there are many opportunities across different sectors – in sustainable finance or sustainable trade, for example. There are new opportunities to grasp in this area of 'green', which we must do in order to ensure that we build back in a more sustainable manner.

8. COVID-19 has also accelerated digital trends and the use of technology. There are opportunities in the area of automation and digitalisation, including the use of cloud computing and artificial intelligence solutions. This growing push for digitalisation will also mean opportunities for sectors like logistics and supply chain, especially for Singapore, as we will continue to play a key role as a hub for the region, even in a post-COVID world.

9. I am confident that for all our students, your training in NP has prepared you well to ride the wave of change and to seize these emerging opportunities.

10. In fact, going forward, our polytechnics will continue to do more to equip and prepare our students to thrive and excel in a more volatile and uncertain world.

11. Starting this year, NP will be piloting the "Personalised Learning Pathway" or PLP. The PLP will give all NP students the opportunity to a pursue a minor to gain greater depth or breadth of learning in a discipline outside of their core curriculum. For example, Business students may opt for a Minor in Cybersecurity. This will allow them to choose from a range of learning units, ranging from basic to advanced level cybersecurity competencies. These additional skills will further strengthen their career resilience, enabling them to pivot more easily to new growth sectors, and help them to seize new opportunities in the future economy.

12. NP has also rolled out the Business Digitalisation Track in a number of its Business courses recently. Students will deepen their understanding of emerging fields like AI and Robotics Applications. They do that not just by studying but through company-based projects, practical research projects and additional internships. So they graduate with not just their NP diploma, but also a range of industry-recognised certifications and a portfolio of company-based projects.

13. Feedback on the Business Digitalisation Track has been very encouraging. For example, Diploma in Business Studies student, Yang Quan Yan, helped a company called The Wok People transform its canteen operations. The company now utilises RFID chips to track the movement of its crockery and it has a cloud-based app to streamline processes like ordering, like ordering, payments and inventory management.

14. I know some of you in the audience, the graduating class, may think: I am already graduating and will not be able to benefit from these new and wonderful things that NP is doing. But actually, that is not the case. Learning does not stop after your graduation. Some of you will continue with your full-time studies in a university. Others will start work to gain industry experience and knowledge. Even if you were to do so, do continue to maintain your links with NP and find opportunities to upgrade your skills through the many Continuing Education and Training programmes that NP offers.

15. Last year, NP introduced Career Jumpstart – it was to support their graduates that were impacted by the pandemic last year. This support package includes two complimentary Continuing Education and Training courses offered by NP. It also includes access to a curated directory of jobs as well as opportunities to work with start-ups. I am very happy to share that this package will be extended to the Class of 2021.

16. At this stage of your life, many of you are considering the options you might take for the future, not just in terms of your studies, but in terms of work and career choices. As you contemplate these options, ask yourself what you would truly enjoy doing, and what you would find happiness in. At the end of the day, what matters is that you find purpose and passion in whatever you do.

17. Sometimes this means having the courage and conviction to take the path less travelled. I know it is not easy to do so. There will be pressures from all sides, whether it is your family, your friends, or even society at large, to pursue a certain path in life – go to a specific university, study in a particular course, find a job in this or that industry – it is all based on a certain conventional notion of success. But if you have found something that you enjoy doing and you are passionate about, then have the courage to pursue it and to realise your dreams.

18. Take for example one of the students here, Billy Dragova, who is the Gold Medallist for the Diploma in International Trade & Business. Billy co-founded an online coffee retailer, Koffie Asia, with his course mate, Lew Jun Shao. From its inception in March 2020, with just one product, Koffie Asia has now expanded to more than ten products, and even owns its own roastery in Malang, Indonesia. I am told that Billy and Jun Shao source their coffee beans from small-holder farmers, to support sustainable development and to ensure fair trade.

19. So I commend Billy and Jun Shao for their entrepreneurial spirit and passion for community and sustainability. I hope they will continue to motivate and inspire those around them.

20. As you start planning ahead for your future, also remember to give back to the community, and to serve others who are in need. Keep a constant lookout for ways you can make a positive difference to those around you.

21. For example, Saktiswaran Selvarajoo from the Diploma in Film, Sound & Video, and also a recipient of the Tay Eng Soon Gold Medal, is grateful for what his school and teachers have done for him. Building on what he had learnt in ITE and his freelance work in the media industry, Saktiswaran took the initiative to run a two-day "crash course" in cinematography for his coursemates, as he knew many of them were apprehensive about this topic. During the course, he encouraged his coursemates to experiment with different film techniques, and to critique one another's work so that they could learn more effectively from each other. These are the kinds of qualities that we are seeking to imbue in every student – where we constantly look out for each other and help one another. We hope all of you will continue to uphold that kind of spirit.

22. Finally, as we all go through these highly disruptive and unpredictable times, I think we should also start to reflect more deeply on what gives our lives meaning.

23. The pandemic raises our mortality on earth and we all have a limited time here on earth. So, do not be afraid to try something new; do not be afraid to dream big, and to chase that rainbow. You will certainly face obstacles along the way, and you may even fail from time to time. But that is alright, because it is through that process of trying and failing that we all learn and improve, and do better the next time.

24. Importantly, always treasure the friendships that you have made here in NP over the years. In this journey of life, it is never about what one person can do on his or her own, but it is always about our abilities to work together and succeed as a team. As the pandemic has shown, it is this spirit of fellowship and mutual support that will enable us to overcome all challenges and emerge stronger together.

25. So, to the class of 2021, take the torch and build the future that you want and believe in together. My heartiest congratulations once again to each and every one of you. Thank you very much.

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