Speech by Minister for Education, Mr Chan Chun Sing, at the Teaching Scholarship Presentation Ceremony 2021

Published Date: 28 September 2021 04:30 PM

News Speeches

Distinguished guests, scholarship and award recipients, a very good afternoon to you all.

Introduction

1. Welcome to this year's Teaching Scholarship Presentation Ceremony.

2. This is a special year. We are handing out awards to two cohorts of teaching scholarship and award recipients – 142 of you were awarded this year, and 132 last year. It is also the first time we are holding the ceremony virtually. Congratulations to all who are receiving their awards today.

3. Indeed, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in many changes for our teachers, students, and schools. Some of these changes are longer-term trends that started before COVID-19, and will continue to impact our education system well into the future. Our system, and educators like yourselves, will have to be well-equipped to prepare our students to thrive in a more uncertain environment.

4. Today, I would like to share my thoughts on what has changed in our education landscape, and how our educators will need to keep pace with the changes, and as importantly, what will remain unchanged even as we evolve our pedagogies and education system.

What Has Changed?

5. First, what has changed? Technological changes have fundamentally transformed how we live and work. The skills needed in the future workforce will continue to evolve rapidly.

6. Next, our social fabric is also changing. Our students today have different and more diverse aspirations, and engage with issues differently. The rise of social media means that information can be disseminated instantly. Students need to develop discerning minds, engage with those with diverse backgrounds and viewpoints, and make sense of cultural influences from overseas.

7. COVID-19 has also opened up new possibilities for teaching and learning.

  1. When our schools had to pivot to home-based learning at short notice, this was an opportunity to introduce blended learning as a key feature in the schooling experience.

8. At the same time, the pandemic also affirmed some of our existing priorities.

  1. We have seen the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on our disadvantaged and vulnerable students, and we must ensure that education continues to be an uplifting force in their lives.

How Will Our Educators Need to Change?

9. Against this backdrop, the demands on the teaching profession will continue to evolve and increase.

  1. Our educators will need to equip our students to manage and adapt to new challenges, so that they can seize the opportunities of the future.
  2. Teachers also play an increasingly important role in supporting our students' well-being, especially for our higher-needs students.
  3. We will also need to develop new skills and approaches in managing stakeholders such as parents, who may have different expectations from those of the previous generations.

10. Given these demands, our educators will have to continually innovate and adapt their teaching practice and skillsets, and I have full confidence that they will rise to the challenge.

  1. With the use of new learning technologies, teachers can tap on data analytics to provide better feedback and targeted interventions for students.
  2. Our teachers are also leveraging technology to design meaningful and inclusive learning experiences.
    1. Take Ms Moritza Lim of Serangoon Secondary School. Despite the constraints posed by the COVID-19 situation, she sought to ensure that students could remain connected, and have their voices heard. She recorded a Student Interview Talk Show via Zoom, where Secondary 3 and 4 students shared their experiences with their juniors. She deliberately chose students from across different academic courses to participate, to empower them to share their thoughts and inspire their juniors. Ms Moritza's efforts to uplift her students and to encourage them to grow as individuals earned her the Outstanding Youth in Education award earlier this year. Congratulations!
  1. Beyond the use of technology, our educators should also be open to new experiences, and seize the opportunities available to them in this fast-changing world. Constantly seek to refresh your skills, and role model the spirit of lifelong learning for our students.
    1. During your studies, ask questions and learn from those around you. Seek out viewpoints that are different from yours, and challenge yourself to empathise with and to learn from them.
    2. For teachers currently in service, MOE will also support them to gain additional exposure beyond their current roles in schools, by providing opportunities for attachments in the public, private and people sectors. Our teachers can then bring these experiences back to the classrooms.

11. As we roll out policy changes to strengthen our education system, MOE will continue to give our teachers autonomy to customise their own approaches for their students' specific needs, in line with our broader policy intent.

What Will Remain Unchanged?

12. Finally, even with all these new developments, there are aspects of the educator's role that will remain unchanged.

13. First, education will always be centred on values. Through your actions and words both inside and outside the classroom, you will shape our young people into individuals with good character and sound values, who are rooted in our heritage and embrace service to our community.

14. Second, education is about people. To influence your students positively, you will need to build up strong relationships and rapport. Get to know every student as an individual. Encourage them to appreciate their strengths, and understand their weaknesses.

15. Third, teachers are the ones who keep education going.

  1. We know that teachers work very hard to do their best for our students. With COVID-19, teachers have had to juggle teaching, administrative duties, their students' well-being, and their own responsibilities at home. Amidst all of this, do remember that being committed to your vocation also means taking good care of your own physical and emotional well-being. As the saying goes, one cannot pour from an empty cup.
  2. At MOE HQ, we continue to have conversations on how to better support teachers' well-being, and to provide good work-life balance.
  3. Just as in any meaningful career, there will be ups and downs. When the going gets tough, think about why you joined teaching in the first place. These are some of the reflections shared by your peers:
    1. For Nur Syazwani, who is majoring in Malay language at NTU-NIE, she was inspired to teach Malay, because she sees it as an opportunity to teach her students about their culture and identity. For her, teaching is about being a positive influence in her students' lives.
    2. Vimal P, who is majoring in Physical Education at NTU-NIE, believes that PE can impart values such as teamwork and resilience, which will serve his students well in their lifelong development.
  4. These are just some of your stories. Always remember your reasons for joining the profession – these motivations keep us serving and will guide us in times when challenges may seem daunting and help us to pull through.

Conclusion

16. Congratulations once again to all the 2020 and 2021 scholarship and award recipients. The scholarships and awards you receive today represent our trust in you to nurture and inspire our students.

17. As you pursue your university education, do remember that in this age of constant change, you as future educators will also need to change and adapt. Yet, there are also perennial principles in education that will not change – these will continue to guide you in your journey as an educator.

18. I wish you all the very best, and I look forward to you joining our MOE family after you complete your studies. Thank you.

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