Speech by Mr Chan Chun Sing, Minister for Education, at the Official Campus Opening Ceremony of Eunoia Junior College

Published Date: 06 August 2021 06:00 PM

News Speeches

Dr Su Guaning, Chairman of the College Advisory Committee

Mrs Wong-Cheang Mei Heng, Principal of Eunoia Junior College (EJC)

Colleagues, school leaders, teachers, parents, and Eunoians

Introduction

1. Thank you for the invitation to join you on Eunoia's 5th college day, and at the official opening of the Bishan campus for the Junior College.

2. I have always taken a keen interest in Eunoia's development for various reasons.

  1. As the previous PA Deputy Chairman, working on the development of Marymount Community Club together with Eunoia Junior College (EJC).
  2. As a parent of an ex-EJC student; and
  3. As a resident living nearby looking forward to use the shared public facilities, particularly the "running track in the sky".

3. In the span of a few years, EJC has built a strong school culture, achieved good academic rigour and nurtured young leaders who embody the spirit of Beautiful Thinking, and Goodwill to All in diverse areas.

4. This is a testament to the hard work and tenacity of the EJC family – students, educators and staff. Thank you all.

Embracing Diversity in Students and Enabling Multiple Pathways in Learning

5. I am heartened that Eunoia has many programmes that are designed to help students discover their strengths and grow their talents in diverse areas in order to inspire them to achieve their definition of excellence.

6. I will keep coming back to the concept of 'diversity' in today's speech – diversity from the perspectives of our students, schools, and country.

7. For EJC, the different interest groups and many college events have provided a rich environment for the different students here to pursue their diverse interests.

8. This is not just happening in EJC, but also across our entire school system.

9. One of the things we have always recognised is that we have students with varied aspirations and talents.

10. In the past when our country was less well-endowed, we had fewer choices.

11. Now that our country has reached a stage where we are better endowed, we are much more able to provide for the diverse needs of our students.

12. As I was formerly with MTI, an analogy would be 'mass customisation'.

13. Going forward, we will need to think about how to 'mass customise' our education system to the greatest extent possible, based on the resources that we have, for the benefit of our students.

14. This is so that each and every one of us can tell our students that they do not need to pursue the same yardstick or definition of success.

15. Instead, we can tell our students that they are blessed and talented in different ways.

16. Our job as parents and educators, is to allow them to fulfil their talents and potential.

17. This is not going to be easy.

18. For the education system to provide greater diversity of pathways, it will require effort not only at the systemic level but more importantly also at the individual educator's level.

19. This is so that we can truly help our students to identify their individual potential and bring that potential to fruition.

20. The second dimension of diversity has to do with our schools.

21. Over the past years, we have been moving towards greater diversity.

22. Not all of our schools provide the same curriculum and teaching for the different profiles of students.

23. We have introduced different types of specialised schools – Special Assistance Programme (SAP) schools, Madrasahs, Singapore Sports School, School of the Arts, NUS High School of Maths and Science and so forth.

24. Going forward, we want all our schools to provide a diversity of experiences for different students and families to choose from.

25. We hope that every school will provide a unique proposition, beyond academic learning, for different types of students.

26. This will encourage our schools not to compete based on the same narrow yardstick of academic achievement.

27. We want every school to have something unique so that students and the staff can fondly and proudly identify with the schools and their respective strengths.

28. For the system to cater to this diversity of needs, it will require the system to be agile and flexible in the way that we organise ourselves.

29. Why are we doing so much for diversity, at both the individual and school levels? Beyond personal fulfilment, this has to do with the resilience of our country.

30. Many people have said that things will become more uncertain and volatile going forward. How do we, as Singaporeans, respond to this ever-changing environment?

31. The only way for us to remain resilient as a country to all these external changes and shocks is to have a diversity of skillsets that allow us to rise to these challenges in an adaptable manner.

32. We cannot have a singular focus. If we do so, we will be strong but fragile at the same time. When an external shock comes about, we will find it hard to re-configure to adapt to the circumstances.

33. For the sake of our country, we must make sure we continue to have a diversity of experiences and skillsets in our people.

34. This is what I hope for our education fraternity – that we will continue to seek diversity for national resilience.

Architecture of EJC and How It Can Inspire Us

35. Finally, for my sharing today, I would like to touch on the architecture of EJC and how it can inspire us.

36. Many people have talked about EJC being the first high-rise campus with a small footprint.

37. Indeed, it is so. However, this is not the first thing that stood out for me.

38. To me, the first outstanding feature of EJC's architecture is that the spaces can be flexibly reconfigured.

39. There is a saying by Winston Churchhill, "We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us."

40. It is extremely difficult to build a junior college and for it to remain future-proof for the next thirty to fifty years.

41. The type of spaces and the configuration of spaces that we need will change and evolve.

42. EJC has the potential to be a living campus, where spaces can be flexibly reconfigured, in order to grow with the times.

43. The second aspect of EJC's architecture that I draw inspiration from is not the running track, but the pillars beneath it.

44. If you observe carefully, there are various pillars supporting the running track – pillars like a tree that branches out below the running track.

45. This is perhaps a reminder of how generations of Singaporeans have built this country.

46. It is about creativity, but more importantly, embodies the ethos that we lend our shoulders to the next generation to stand taller and see further.

47. The running track is built upon the many supporting pillars underneath it.

48. Some of these pillars are bigger and stronger than others, while some are smaller. The bigger pillars branch out and support the running track in an even greater way.

49. That is akin to the Spirit of Singapore – each of us do our part to provide support for future generations to reach the skies. For those who have greater abilities, they have greater responsibilities.

50. Last but not least, the aspect of EJC that should inspire all of us is that the school campus is integrated into the community.

51. This serves as a reminder for Eunoians to always reach out to the community.

52. We hope generations of Eunoians will use EJC as a base to reach out to the rest of the world.

53. Only in reaching out, will we be able to draw strength and build up capabilities beyond EJC.

54. For generations of Eunoians to come, it is important to remember that the purpose is not just to do well in EJC.

55. The purpose is to go beyond EJC, integrate with and serve our community, and bring back good ideas to enrich EJC.

56. I would like to thank the architectural team, for the hard work and innovative thinking behind the design of EJC.

57. May the design continue to be an inspiration to all of us.

58. Finally, I would like to thank the teachers and staff who have guided Eunoians in the past few years.

59. It has been quite the journey for the three schools, Catholic High School, Singapore Chinese Girls' School and CHIJ St Nicholas' Girls' School, to come together to create a common vision, and instill the values and culture of the junior college.

60. I am sure the generations of Eunoians will fondly and proudly remember what they have gone through in EJC and what the college has done for them – just like my daughter.

61. On that note, thank you everyone and I look forward to more great things coming from EJC and the family of Eunoians.

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