Speech by Minister for Education, Mr Chan Chun Sing, at the Youth Model ASEAN Conference Closing E-Ceremony 2021

Published Date: 06 October 2021 06:00 PM

News Speeches

His Excellency Tran Duc Binh, Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN for Community and Corporate Affairs,

Distinguished guests and delegates,

1. Thank you for having me at the closing ceremony of the Youth Model ASEAN Conference, or YMAC.

2. This year, YMAC celebrates a decade of bringing youths from across ASEAN to a very special platform to hear each other and foster new friendships, in order to strengthen our regional bonds and mutual understanding. I am sure that this will also allow us to develop new insights into our region's challenges for the future.

3. While we are unable to meet physically this year due to COVID-19, it is particularly encouraging to see how the ASEAN youth have used technology to transcend boundaries and recreate the unique YMAC experience, in a different format.

4. COVID-19 has brought about diverse challenges to the region, all of which manifest differently in each ASEAN member state.

5. In the years to come, it is reasonable to expect even greater transformation to the region. This includes the lingering impact of the coronavirus and other developments, such as emerging technologies.

6. True to the theme of this year's conference, "We Care, We Prepare, We Prosper", the youth of ASEAN must confront these changes with adaptability and resilience.

7. I would like to leave you with three thoughts as we press on in our fight against COVID-19.

8. First, take risks and find opportunities in crises. It is natural to feel daunted by the challenges of our times, but consider that they may also afford new opportunities for regional transformation and growth. Only by adopting this mindset shift will we be able to ride the waves of change and not merely cope, but also thrive together in the years ahead.

9. Over the past few weeks, you have given careful thought to your Innovative Designs with Empathy for ASEAN, or IDEAS Projects. You have formulated solutions to pressing problems and emerging opportunities in the region. For example, in the areas of education, environmental sustainability, and digital technologies.

10. I am confident that these projects are both fresh and exciting, and have hopefully catalysed a broader spirit of innovation.

11. COVID-19 has generated a wellspring of innovation from individuals and industries alike. In schools, for instance, teachers around the world have adapted to school closures by using new pedagogies and methods for assessment, such as formative and project-based assessments. Such developments are not only timely, they reassure us of our timeless human capacity for change, and our ability to confidently seize opportunities around us.

12. Second, as we find new ways of doing things, we must work not just for, but with our most vulnerable and often marginalised communities. The Youth Expedition Project by Singapore's National Youth Council supports students with volunteer projects in ASEAN, China and India. I was heartened to hear how the Project circumvented travel restrictions, by shifting online.

13. One of the Project's teams, Project HerePhoGood2, continued their 2019 partnership with Eco Vietnam Group Community Volunteering Centre. They conducted weekly online engagement sessions with students in Vietnam on educational topics beyond the classroom, including pollution, financial literacy and even how to make their own hand sanitiser.

14. We may often be unaware of the needs and struggles of different communities. Yet, it is important to first recognise our gaps in knowledge and work on filling them as best as we can, while identifying ways that we can lend a helping hand to others.

15. Third, our future must be a more sustainable one. Climate change is among the gravest challenges of our times. As part of the Singapore Green Plan 2030, we have set ambitious and concrete targets to position Singapore to achieve our long-term net zero emissions aspiration as soon as viable.

16. Several of the targets entail engagement with our schools and youths. For example, we are working towards a two-thirds reduction of net carbon emissions from the schools sector, and will aim for at least 20 per cent of schools to be carbon neutral by 2030. In addition, we have been incorporating sustainability content into the school curriculum, for students to learn about the environment and develop eco-friendly habits from a young age.

17. We are also building on community and industry partnerships, to offer more environment-related learning opportunities and contribute to sustainability research. I believe Singapore's efforts will contribute to our region's drive for a more sustainable future, and that the youths in ASEAN can encourage our communities to adopt more sustainable lifestyles, and uncover game-changing sustainability solutions.

18. YMAC may be coming to an end, but I hope that delegates will continue to maintain your friendships and keep in touch after the conference to strengthen our people-to-people linkages.

19. I am also hopeful that the spirit of resilience, innovation, care and perhaps most importantly, hope for the region and the world, will persist long beyond this conference. Thank you.

Share this article: