Speech by Second Minister for Education, Dr Maliki Osman, at the NIE Teachers’ Investiture Ceremony 2021

Published Date: 07 July 2021 04:00 PM

News Speeches

Mr Lai Chung Han, Chairman, NIE Council,

Professor Christine Goh, NIE Director,

Mr Wong Siew Hoong, Director-General of Education,

Distinguished Guests,

Colleagues,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

A very good afternoon to all.

1. Thank you for inviting me to the Teachers' Investiture Ceremony. My heartiest congratulations to all 932 graduands who have completed your training at NIE and have embarked on your teaching career.

2. Because of the evolving COVID-19 situation, this is the second time that the Ministry of Education and the National Institute of Education are holding this important milestone event online to mark the rite-of-passage of our new teachers into the teaching profession.

3. Indeed, the global pandemic situation continues to keep everyone on the edge as we press on with our collective best minds and efforts to contain the spread of the virus. It is a global effort on many fronts.

4. In Singapore, we are constantly seeking to equip our citizens and students and help prepare them to be future ready. This aspiration towards future readiness cannot be more keenly appreciated as we observe the tumultuous changes and evolving uncertainties happening around us.

5. Education has never been so critical as we look to tackle the challenges lying ahead. Fundamental literacies, knowledge and skills remain important, and new literacies have also called for inclusion into our education system – media literacy, critical literacy, digital literacy, AI-literacy, and the list continues to evolve and expand.

6. But equally important is the balancing focus on the human dimensions in educating the person holistically. If change and uncertainty are the order of the day, personal adaptability, nimbleness and resilience must be acquired. If AI has already started to shape our lives and interactions, the right set of values must undergird our lives and decision making in all facets of our daily lives.

7. Indeed, we need to cultivate in our students not just an inquiring and creative mind, but also a strong sense of social responsibility and geo-political savviness to keep our little red dot lit bright as a cohesive and inclusive society that is at the same time an active and valued member of the global community. Your role as teachers cannot be more important, and I would like to touch on three points that I hope will help you to support your students, as you embark on your teaching career.

Caring Teachers Inspire Caring Students

8. First, being a great teacher is more than just being able to teach well. You are moulding lives for the future, inspiring each student that you encounter. I am very heartened to learn about how some of you, amid your busy student life and at times constrained by the pandemic restrictions, have reached out to those outside of your immediate circles.

9. One example is Stella Loy Ann Ting. Graduating as a primary school music specialist, she applied her music skills and talents to perform in a special-composed musical to uplift the spirits of the healthcare workers at St Luke's Nursing Home.

10. Almira Binte Farid, another example, co-led her Group Endeavours In Service-Learning group to produce a children's e-book titled, 'Where Did The People Go?' to raise funds for Singapore Children's Society. They raised an amount that is more than double their goal of $600.

11. As we look to nurture students who are compassionate and care for our community, teachers like Stella and Almira exemplify the right values and are great role models for their students. Hopefully, we can inspire future generations of young Singaporeans to exhibit active citizenry and contribute to society unreservedly.

Teachers can inspire students to tackle important issues around us

12. Second, apart from caring for people, many of you, too, cared for the world we live in and the natural and cultural heritage that is our gift to our future generations. As educators, you play an important role in inculcating within our students, environmentally and culturally conscious mindsets and habits, both locally and globally.

13. I learnt that Ng Wen Xin had chosen to do her final year project on the impact of human activities on Tonle Sap lake in Cambodia. Not being able to travel to collect the primary data due to COVID-19, she successfully made use of secondary sources, such as satellite images, instead. Kudos to her, her fine work has been recently published online in the multi-disciplinary journal, Science of the Total Environment. Congratulations, Wen Xin!

14. On the cultural front, Esmond Loh Fah Rong, focused his efforts on celebrating the hawker culture in Singapore. His painting titled "The Last Hawker Stall" won the prestigious UOB Painting of the Year Award in 2020. His imagined post-apocalyptic scene where only one hawker stall is left in Singapore prompts one to treasure something all Singaporeans love and would want to preserve. Esmond, congratulations to you too.

15. Global developments that can easily influence our young will present new dynamic challenges in your role as teachers. "woke" and "cancel" cultures, the #metoo movement as well as more complex manifestations of issues like race relations, sexuality education and youth mental health will be new challenges that may confront you in your classrooms. Your willingness to embrace these challenges and guide your students as they navigate this new terrain will ensure that we continue to provide our students with the best opportunity to develop their character and citizenship.

Teachers Who Love to Learn Will Inspire Students Who Learn for Life

16. This brings me to my third and final point, which is to learn continuously and similarly imbue in students the desire to learn for life. The Ministry of Education's "Learn for Life" movement, launched in 2018, is now etched into our teacher consciousness. One of the thrusts in "Learn for Life" is "SkillsFuture for Educators" which supports our teachers in preparing students to be future-ready. NIE has provided you with a strong foundation but this is just the starting point of your professional journey.

17. To be a proficient teacher and beyond, you need to practise lifelong learning and continually strengthen your classroom practice. You join a teaching fraternity that has a strong collective spirit for professional development. We have a phrase that encapsulates this concept: 'Teacher Ownership, Teacher Leadership', or TOTL as we fondly call it. Take up this spirit of TOTL to actively develop your competencies and, in time, contribute to lead in your collective growth. I would like to highlight an example.

18. From the Diploma in Special Education (Special Schools' Teachers) programme, Koh Hin Ann, having already obtained her Diploma in Early Childhood Education at NIE and a Bachelor in Linguistics and Multilingual Studies at NTU, was prompted to take up a second diploma from her exposure to the hearing-impaired. Hin Ann first learned sign language through an NTU Deaf Community and Culture Module. Her subsequent work at the Canossian School gave her real opportunities to work with children with hearing loss. Following her internship with Wycliffe Bible Translation in Thailand, she became clearly invested in exploring work related to the hearing impaired. Well done for keeping up the spirit of lifelong learning, Hin Ann.

Conclusion

19. Teaching has never been so richly challenging and potentially hugely rewarding to oneself and impactful on others.

20. As I conclude, I urge each of you to recall and reflect on what first motivated you to join the teaching profession. Next, think about what is or will now drive you further in your teaching career.

21. Remember the compass that each of you received during the Teachers' Compass Ceremony at the beginning of your studies at NIE. Let this compass be the constant reminder of your choice, your commitment, your challenge and your calling of joining the teaching fraternity.

22. As you chart your direction ahead, you could also look to how fellow educators have been an inspiration to students and other teachers. Today's investiture ceremony also features the six recipients of the Outstanding Youth in Education Award 2021 who have built on the strong foundation in teaching that is laid out by NIE. May all our graduands likewise strive to demonstrate passion for and commitment to teaching so that they continue to inspire and nurture their students. Once again, my heartiest congratulations to all award recipients and graduands today.

23. I wish you all the very best in your teaching career, and as you become role models for lifelong learning for your students! Thank you.

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