Speeches/Interviews

August 26, 2013

Opening Address by Mr Heng Swee Keat, Minister For Education, at The Singapore-Industry Scholarship (Sgis) Award Ceremony on Monday, 26 August 2013, at 4.00pm, at The University Cultural Centre, National University of Singapore

Chief Executive Officers and senior management from Sponsoring Organisations,

Representatives from Government Ministries and Statutory Boards,

Principals, teachers and representatives from Universities, Polytechnics and Junior Colleges,

Parents and family members,

Scholarship recipients,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good afternoon. My heartiest congratulations to the recipients of the 2013 Singapore-Industry Scholarship (or SgIS). You have taken your first step to an exciting career in Singapore’s key industries. I am sure your family members, teachers and friends who have played a role in your journey so far share your joy in reaching this milestone today.

A Different Kind of Scholarship

When we launched the SgIS last year, we had a very clear purpose: to build a Singaporean core of talent in each of our key industries. To develop this core, we need to create new and exciting opportunities for learning, not just in the universities but in the real world.

The SgIS is a very young scholarship programme (this is only the second year it is being awarded), and I am pleased that we are expanding the programme in meaningful ways. This year, the number of SgIS Sponsoring Organisations has grown from 28 to 39. They hail from some 13 industries, ranging from engineering, aviation, tourism, power and healthcare, to social services and the arts. It also includes creative industries and a range of other companies.

The SgIS has also been expanded to include Mid-Term scholarships to Singaporean students who are already studying in local and overseas universities. This year, 6 Mid-Term scholarships have been awarded. In all, 97 talented young Singaporeans are offered SgIS scholarships, up from 90 last year.

The defining characteristic of the SgIS is the commitment of both the companies and the scholars to take a broad and long view of developing talent. We partner organisations which commit to internships, mentorship by seniors, induction programmes and invitations to industry events. We select scholars who have an interest in the sector and are prepared to immerse themselves deeply in the chosen field, and to learn outside the classrooms.

To stimulate scholars to think about what it takes to be a leader in the field, we will in the coming months organise fireside chats with successful industry leaders. Ms Olivia Lum, CEO of Hyflux, has agreed to kick-start the series of fireside chats in October. Scholars will also have a chance to visit other sponsoring organisations to learn about the variety and complexity of different organisations, and how different leaders manage the many diverse and complex issues that every organisation faces.

These are the new and exciting opportunities that we provide in this special SgIS. Learning extends beyond the classroom - it is through working with people, being part of a team, being out there in the real world, putting your values and ideas into action, that you learn most. I encourage our scholars to broaden your learning and make the most of these valuable platforms. Even better - be entrepreneurial! Build on this spirit of learning everywhere, every time and from everyone to create your own learning opportunities.

Creating Your Own Learning

You may ask: is it possible? Let me share some stories of SgIS scholars who have done so.

Cheong Qin Zheng, our Mid-Term Overseas scholarship recipient is currently studying Aeronautical Engineering at Imperial College London. After seeing his fellow schoolmates pining for home, Qin Zheng created a “Home Away From Home” for overseas Singaporeans. To bring Singaporeans together, he organised events such as weekly sports, shopping trips to nearby cities and villages, and monthly potluck sessions featuring Singaporean staples like Hokkien Mee and Chicken Rice. Qin Zheng directed a musical production that involved more than 100 Singaporeans, to raise funds for charity. To save cost, he was also the show manager and ticket manager. Such initiatives are important ways for our young to learn how to be resourceful and responsible. It is perhaps fitting that, upon graduation, he will be joining SIA Engineering Company - where he will be able to help many more make that “connection” back to home.

Another SgIS Scholar, Pavithren s/o V S Pakianathan combines his passion for technology with his passion for community service. At 21 years old, Pavithren has already received a Long Service Award for community service! He organised many community events in his neighbourhood, including a blood donation drive, an amazing race for residents, Our Singapore Conversation sessions for Tamil-speaking residents, and most recently, a National Day carnival. In Temasek Polytechnic where he studied Computer Engineering, he tried inventing an anti-snatch handbag after his aunt was a victim of a snatch thief. Pavithren will study Information Systems Technology and Design at the Singapore University of Technology and Design. He hopes to apply his knowledge in technology at Hitachi Asia upon graduation, and also use this knowledge to continue to help the community.

Later today, you will be hearing from Johnson Seow, Chairperson of the SgIS Scholars’ Network Executive Committee, who feels strongly that the SgIS scholars can benefit from collective learning and sharing of experiences. Johnson, with a group of scholars from the inaugural batch, has stepped forward to set up an SgIS Scholars’ Network to build a strong connection amongst scholars from the various schools and industries. Their sights are set not just on sharing lecture notes or internship experiences, but for the Scholars’ Network to eventually evolve into a strong network of industry leaders from Singapore’s strategic sectors, who can help mentor and guide future batches of SgIS scholars and contribute back to society.

The examples I have shared attest to the qualities of SgIS scholars and their rich and varied learning opportunities. Seize these opportunities! And share these too - encourage your juniors whom you think will benefit from such programmes to apply for the SgIS.

Conclusion

In closing, I would like to thank the economic agencies and sponsoring organisations for your support of SgIS and dedication towards the development of Singaporean talents.

To the scholars, I urge you to be proactive in your growth and development. At the same time, remain humble and have a strong sense of community and empathy towards fellow Singaporeans. As future leaders of Singapore’s key industries, I hope you will contribute actively towards building a better future for Singapore.

Thank you.