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Opening Remarks by Minister Chan Chun Sing at the Official Opening of 42 Singapore (42SG) @ SUTD

Published Date: 05 September 2023 04:15 PM

News Speeches

Mr Lee Tzu Yang, Chairman SUTD

Professor Chong Tow Chong, President SUTD

Your Excellency Ms Minh-di Tang, Ambassador of France to Singapore

Distinguished Guests, Students of 42 Singapore.

1. First, let me congratulate you. This programme is a milestone for SUTD and Ecole 42. Let me start off by saying why I'm so pleased to join you here today.

2. We had something like this in mind for quite some time. Some time back, I challenged SUTD to continue to pioneer new ways of teaching and learning. I challenged them to learn from the best across the world so that we can develop new models of teaching and learning that is scalable, affordable, accessible. It sounds simple, but perhaps not so easy to achieve. Especially for adult learners in a new learning environment, these are indeed the key parameters with which we want to design our continuing education system. So, I am very glad that over these years, we have managed to find a very good partner in Ecole 42. Ecole 42 will hopefully be one of the many innovative partners that can work with SUTD and our Singapore education system to pioneer new and innovative ways to level up the adult training and education for our people.

3. But as we congratulate SUTD and Ecole 42 on this achievement, we should not stop here. We must continue to look for interesting and pioneering models and keep challenging ourselves to make adult upskilling and reskilling that much more affordable, accessible, and most importantly, scalable.

4. Every year, our challenge here in Singapore is not just to train 40,000 students to graduate with a degree or diploma. That we will do and continue to do. But with the half-life of skills being increasingly compressed, we expect the average lifespan of a typical job, or a typical skillset to last no more than five years. If that is true, then it means that we must reskill, upskill up to half a million people a year in Singapore. That is one order of magnitude different from the 40,000 that we need to graduate every year from every cohort. Hence, at MOE, we are interested to pioneer these new models that are scalable, affordable and accessible across our entire population.

5. I firmly believe that the competitiveness of our country no longer just depends on how good a foundation we provide for our learners in the first 15 years of their lives. The competitiveness of our nation will increasingly depend on our ability to upskill and reskill our adult workforce for the next 50 years of their life, beyond their time in school. Hence, we would like to thank Ecole 42 for partnering us, as well as the many industry partners for pooling the resources to make this happen. It is not easy to make this happen. Thus, I would really like to thank all of you for believing in us, and in this cause. It's easy for us to try and do more time-tested methods to conduct education as we have done in the past. But it is even more impressive for many of you to join hands with us to keep trying new things. I hope that this will be the spirit for us to keep going.

6. To all the students who are joining our first batch, I would also like to say congratulations. I visited you some time back during your Piscine. You're all trying to learn to swim, or prove that you know how to swim, and I know that it is not easy. For you to even get to the starting point today, it is already an achievement in itself. So, congratulations to all of you and I think you all deserve a round of applause for your accomplishments.

7. But having said that, as you know me, I will never leave you where you are. I'm going to challenge you. First, be a shining example of what you can achieve through this model. Prof Chong had mentioned that the passing rate in Singapore is one order of magnitude different from the other people. That's the starting point, but that's not the most important. Because the true mark of success is not whether you have arrived here with flying colours. The true mark of success is whether as you go through this program, you will not only excel, but you will come up with even better ideas for the next batch. I hope that by the time you graduate, you will not just graduate with a certificate but at the same time provide us with feedback on how we can improve this even more.

8. My second wish for all the students and faculty in this program is to let this be the start. Use this as a platform to inspire more people to come and join your ranks - not just necessarily to go through a program like this, but to join your ranks to learn anything, anytime, anywhere. Your ultimate success is not just what you get out of a program, but also how many more people you will be able to inspire to come onboard and keep learning, relearning and upgrading themselves.

9. Finally, a message for all our employers out there. This is a program whereby skills matter more than credentials. We have said that we will want to move beyond credentialism – let's move beyond where people are pigeonholed into what they can do, according to their previous certifications. This programme is a good testimony of what you can achieve. Everyone accomplishes what they can based on what they bring to the table and what they are willing to put in. It is not just based on some past track record.

10. This is the concept of continuous meritocracy that we talked about. It doesn't matter whether you're 18, or 80 years old. So long as you are willing and able, you will have a chance to keep learning throughout life and contribute to a wider group. That is the ultimate definition of success. I hope that you will also inspire many more people to look at skills, currencies of skills, relevance of skills, rather than just past credentials. If we can do all this, I think we will be in a much better place than we are now.

11. On that note, congratulations to SUTD and Ecole 42 on this partnership, I would like to thank all of you who have made this possible and I look forward to positive outcomes from this programme. Thank you very much.