Guest-Of-Honour's Address by Mr Chan Chun Sing, Minister for Education at National Youth Achievement Award Ceremony

Published Date: 17 November 2021 06:00 PM

News Speeches

Commissioner of Prisons, Ms Shie Yong Lee,

National Youth Achievement Award Council Chairman, Mr John Ting,

Award recipients and family members,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Introduction

1. Good afternoon.

2. Today is a very special day for all of the award recipients, as you have done much to be where you are. But this is not the end of the journey. I'm sure this is only the start of your efforts to do more for our community, to achieve more for yourself and to make your families even more proud of you.

NYAA in Prisons

3. The NYAA was first introduced in the prisons about two decades ago, for youths studying in Prison School.

4. Over the years, it has been extended to the youths from other institutions, including the Reformative Training Centre (RTC), the Women's Prison and Clusters A and B.

5. Today, we have more than 2,000 participants who have since completed the NYAA programme, which seeks to instil a strong sense of purpose and foster meaningful linkages to our community. Today, we celebrate 33 Gold awardees, 32 Silver awardees and 17 Bronze awardees. Well done!

6. Earning the awards this year has not been easy due to COVID-19. It is commendable that despite the circumstances, you have continued to strive for the awards.

Significance of NYAA

7. As we celebrate this milestone in our participants' personal journeys, I would like to remind all participants that the value of the NYAA goes beyond the award that you have received.

8. It is fitting that this year's theme, "STEP Up to Reach Out" speaks of giving back to society.

9. As part of the programme, you served others, participated in outdoor activities, developed your skills in a sport, and even took on leadership roles in community service projects.

10. Through the NYAA programme, you have gained the knowledge and skills that will empower you not just to step up from the past, but to contribute to our community, and make a positive impact on society.

"Step Up to Reach Out"

11. I mentioned earlier that there were creative tweaks to some components of this year's NYAA programme.

12. This year, 32 of you in institution TM1 participated in a Vertical Marathon, quite literally enacting the theme of "STEP Up to Reach Out". SPS worked alongside Sport Singapore, which donated a pair of new running shoes to Be Kind SG for every 40 floors that you have climbed.

13. I was impressed to learn that all the participants climbed a formidable 40 storeys each, to give 32 pairs of new shoes to youths from Thye Hua Kwan Home for Disabled @ Sembawang.

14. Participants from Institution A4 and B3 also contributed to the community by creating jigsaw puzzles for children from Rainbow Centre. These jigsaw puzzles were a fun way for children with special educational needs to develop their motor and cognitive skills.

15. You should all be very proud of your acts of kindness. Kindness strengthens our communal bonds and build bridges with the community that is awaiting your return.

16. Let me share the experiences of two award recipients.

17. George, a gold award recipient this year, was previously involved in drug-related offences.

18. However, George has been making good use of his time in prison to improve himself. He attended Prison School and completed his 'O' Levels in 2016. He has now graduated with a Diploma in International Supply Chain Management offered by Ngee Ann Polytechnic in Prison School.

19. During the vertical marathon, George experienced what it meant to be able to give back. The experience made George realize that his actions can make a difference in the lives of others and I believe he is now inspired to continue giving back to society.

20. Another participant who benefited from NYAA is Isaac. At a young age, he fell into criminal activities, and was eventually sentenced to Reformative Training.

21. Through the NYAA journey, Isaac learnt the importance of setting goals, having perseverance, and giving back to the community.

22. It spurred him to change his life for the better, and Isaac has plans to take up courses available at RTC. Isaac has clear plans for his future and is determined to maximize his potential. In so doing, he hopes to show his gratitude to his family for their unwavering support even during tough times.

23. To George, Isaac and all the recipients who have embarked on your personal NYAA journey, we are proud of you. You truly live up to NYAA's theme of "STEP Up to Reach Out".

24. I encourage each and every one of you to strive on and continue pursuing your dreams. Remind yourselves of all the challenges that you have overcome to be here today, believe in yourself and have the courage to chart your own path. And all the things that you have done for our society will be remembered.

Appreciation for Family Members and Community Partners

25. As we celebrate your achievements, we should also give thanks to all those who have played a part in supporting you

26. First, your family members, some of whom are here with us virtually today. Your support and belief motivated them to stay on this journey. I know you will be with them every step of the way as they work towards improving their lives.

27. Second, we would like to thank all the community partners who facilitated the NYAA activities and imparted new skills to the participants. The volunteers from Singapore Adventurers' Club, Be Kind SG, National Library Board, and Sport Singapore, all deserve our appreciation. Support from community partners is critical in helping our offenders in their rehabilitation and reintegration journey.

28. Third, we'd like to thank the officers from the Singapore Prison Service who serve as role models, guiding the participants throughout the programme and their individual journeys of change, and guiding them as Captains of Lives.

29. Finally, our appreciation goes to the NYAA Council for presenting the awards to the deserving inmates and giving them the opportunity to make a difference in their own lives and that of others.

Words of Encouragement

30. Before I conclude, I would like to say something personal to all of you. I just want all of you to remember that today is not the end of your journey. Today is the start of a life that you can aspire to have. And it starts with this: believing in yourself.

31. I once led soldiers in the same situation as you, and I told them that if you believe in yourself, and if you don't look down on yourself, nobody will look down on you. Strive beyond yourself in all that you achieve.

32. Your strength in climbing up those 40 storeys is a reminder that you are not helpless. You are able to do many more things for yourself and for your family and community. And if you remember this, you will be able to do many more things in life.

33. In the earlier video, some of you said that you would not want to come back here. Actually, I hope you will come back here -- not because you are incarcerated but to inspire the next generation to follow your footsteps to do great things for yourself and for our community. We will welcome you back here to be role models for the next generation.

Conclusion

34. Once again, congratulations to all of you! And always remember: when you believe in yourself, nothing is impossible.

35. Thank you very much.

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