Speech by Mr Chan Chun Sing, Minister for Education at the 110th Anniversary of Zhonghua Secondary School

Published Date: 10 September 2021 06:30 PM

News Speeches

Mr Lim Guan Lee

Chairperson of the School Advisory Committee

Ms Cindy Low

Principal of Zhonghua Secondary School

Distinguished guests

Ladies and gentlemen

Good evening.

1. I am pleased to join you today to celebrate the 110th Anniversary of Zhonghua Secondary School.

2. This is a significant milestone for the school. Zhonghua has a rich history, and the evolution of the school through the years reflects the imperatives in our education system.

3. First, Zhonghua is a school that has always risen to the call of the times. Over the past century, it has adapted nimbly to changing circumstances to provide opportunities for students from different backgrounds, and to meet the needs of our nation.

  1. This is seen from its founding in 1911. Inspired by Dr. Sun Yat Sen, a group of community leaders started Singapore's first Chinese girls' school – Chung Hwa Girls' School. Though it had only 10 students at its inception, this was a bold step as not many girls had the chance to attend school then.
  2. And the school continued to evolve through the generations. In the 1980s, the school introduced English-medium classes, and also became co-educational.
  3. The school grew from strength to strength, attaining autonomous status in 1996.
  4. Today, Zhonghua has 1,200 students from different races and backgrounds in a well-resourced campus, and has come a long way from its humble roots.

4. It is never easy to navigate through changes. Zhonghua's history has shown us that we can draw strength from a compelling vision, meaningful purpose and tenacity of will. Likewise, our education system must continue to evolve to continually prepare our students to be future-ready in the journey of life.

5. Second, while it has evolved over the years, Zhonghua has held fast to its commitment to provide all students with a quality education, encouraging them to envision different futures for themselves.

6. Many Zhonghuarians have made their mark in diverse areas, and contributed to Singapore and beyond.

  1. One example is Mr Royston Tan, one of Singapore's top filmmakers. Royston first picked up film-editing skills from the serving principal at that time, Mrs Ng-Gan Lay Choo.
  2. Another example is Mr Ivan Chang. Ivan started his first business with his Secondary 2 classmate with just $72. He went on to found a few start-up companies. Ivan is now with Disney Singapore, and is the youngest director in Disney globally.

7. Ms Cindy Low shared with me that Zhonghua continues to be a place where students can discover their passions and purpose. The school has leveraged the introduction of Blended Learning for students to learn new things and actively encourages students to hone their talents, and uncover areas of interest beyond the curriculum. For instance,

  1. Tiffany Putri, in Secondary 3, is intrigued by behavioral evolution. Whenever she has questions, Ms Rozianna, her Biology teacher, is there for her. She hopes to be a researcher, focusing on animal behaviour.
  2. Secondary 2 student Nur Qistina Binte Muhammad Ridzuan has a keen interest in playing the guitar. She is looking forward to sharing her music with her schoolmates and teachers at the "open mic" sessions organised by the school for students to showcase their talents.
  3. Justin Zhang, in Secondary 1, is learning programming from YouTube, and dreams of developing his own game. With Zhonghua also offering STEM-related programme and Computing, Justin is well-supported by the curriculum and experiences provided to deepen his knowledge and improve his skills to fulfill his aspiration.

8. It is important for our schools to be places where our students can meld their learning and interests, and experience joy in education. We will continue to help our students find different pathways to success, and nurture their confidence and curiosity, so that lifelong learning becomes the norm and not the exception.

9. Third, Zhonghua has remained steadfast in its mission to nurture students of positive purpose, who contribute back to the school and society.

10. It is apt that the school has chosen to mark its anniversary through Project G.O.O.D., a compilation of stories of Zhonghuarians "Giving Of Ourselves Daily".

  1. The compilation celebrates the daily acts of kindness by students, such as sheltering a schoolmate when it rained.
  2. Students also made an impact beyond the school by encouraging Tan Tock Seng Hospital staff when there was a COVID-19 cluster.

11. Alumni, too, readily return to Zhonghua to share their experiences and insights with current cohorts. I am confident that this "pay-it-forward" spirit will continue to inspire many students to use their time and talents to contribute to the school and the larger community.

12. Our schools play an instrumental role in instilling our students with the right values. To address the increasingly complex issues in society, our youths must feel rooted in our common beliefs, and empowered to contribute in different ways towards the collective good.

13. The anniversary's theme – 缘起百年,情系中华; "A Century of Affinity, A Connection to Zhonghua" – speaks of the camaraderie forged over the years. The deep sense of affinity to the school is reflected in the many alumni who continue to serve. For example, Mdm Chuang Yong Eng, who graduated more than 70 years ago, serves as the President of the Alumni Association.

14. Zhonghua's success is possible because of the dedication of generations of school leaders, staff, students, parents and stakeholders. The strong foundation and proud heritage you have helped to create, will allow Zhonghua to forge ahead with confidence.

15. May Zhonghua continue to fulfill its vision of nurturing Scholars and Leaders who will build a stronger Singapore.

16. Thank you for inviting me to be part of this milestone celebration.

18. Congratulations, Zhonghua, on your 110th anniversary!

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