Speeches/Interviews

November 17, 2020

School of Science and Technology 10th Anniversary Celebrations Minister's Closing Address

Prof Lim Seh Chun, Chairman, SST's Board of Directors,

Prof Su Guaning, Founding Chairman, SST's Board of Directors,

Mrs Linda Chan, Principal of SST,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Parents and students, good evening to all of you.

1. I am very happy to join you on this very special occasion. Allow me to offer my congratulations to everyone in SST – board members, staff, students, and alumni – for your achievements these past ten years, and for bringing the joy of STEM and applied learning to our students. The SST Story has truly been an amazing one. From building a new learning community to becoming a trailblazer in applied STEM learning, you have all accomplished very much over these past ten years.

Sst's Role and Achievements in Applied Stem Education

2. We heard the wonderful song by the students about dreams just now, and indeed the SST Story started out because of two dreams. The first was to develop a strong and early pipeline of STEM talents who can help Singapore cement our position as a competitive force in the world economy. The second was to nurture future-makers who can contribute to society by turning their passion for applied technologies into reality.

3. I think all of us can see how dramatic advances in technologies have changed and transformed our lives. When I was growing up, smart home technologies were unheard of – no one thought about having robotic vacuum cleaners, the ability to switch on your air-conditioning at home with your phones, or to have. self-driving cars. These were just fiction seen in movies, and now all of these have become reality, and more change is coming across different aspects of our lives.

4. All of these happened not by chance, but because people dared to dream, and had the passion and skills to make their dreams come true. And as we look towards the future, we will need many more of such dream-makers and future-makers here in Singapore – people with not just the brains and ideas, but also the heart and hands – to turn the "what ifs" of today into the realities of tomorrow.

5. By encouraging students to ideate and experiment, SST has been the incubator for budding innovators and future-makers that our society needs. Through its ChangeMakers Programme, SST students prototype solutions to real-world problems by drawing from knowledge across different projects. This multi-disciplinary approach is exactly what we need to tackle future problems like climate change.

6. After graduating from SST, many students continue to channel their passion and skills in applied STEM learning towards the betterment of the community. One example is Sunny Deshpande, an alumnus from the Class of 2015. For his final year project in Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Sunny worked with his project mate to develop an automated system for clinicians to accurately diagnose epileptic seizures and to administer treatment in a timely manner. He attributes the success of his project to the strong STEM foundation built during his time in SST, as well as the school's community-focused approach to applied learning.

7. Another alumni He Shi Ying – from SST's class of 2014 – is immersing herself in the area of public health. After her O-Levels, Shi Ying took up a Diploma in Pharmacy Science in Ngee Ann Polytechnic (NP), and she was awarded the Lee Kuan Yew Award for Mathematics and Science. She is now majoring in Global Studies in NUS, with a focus on global health. Shi Ying's passion for healthcare was kindled during her time in SST, where she had taken Biotechnology as her Applied Subject. She now aspires to design and implement new strategies to help improve healthcare systems around the world.

8. Sunny and Shi Ying represent a significant proportion of SST students who have chosen to pursue a STEM-related Polytechnic Diploma after their O-Levels. Thereafter, many progress on to universities, while others decide to work first, or to pursue their own initiatives in start-ups.

Sst-NP Integrated Diploma Programme

9. The paths charted by these SST students reflect how a Polytechnic STEM diploma builds synergistically on the strong STEM foundation in SST, and allows students to specialise in an applied area of interest. Having learnt from these years of experience, I believe we are now ready to take another bold step forward to strengthen these synergies and expand the opportunities for SST students.

10. So I am very happy to share with all of you this evening that we will be piloting a new "through-train programme" for SST students who demonstrate strong aptitude in applied STEM and are certain of their interest in a Polytechnic education. What does this mean? It is a through-train programme, so these students will not have to sit for the O-Levels. They can progress directly to a STEM course in NP, which already partners SST closely today. While in SST, these students will have more time and space freed up to engage in deeper applied learning, across a wider range of STEM fields. This will include the opportunity to embark on longer-term capstone projects, where they can draw insights from different disciplines to tackle interesting challenges.

11. Details of this pilot programme, which we will call the "SST-NP Integrated Diploma Programme", are being worked out by MOE, SST, and NP. As a start, the programme will involve about 50 students per cohort. Eligible students will be selected for the programme at the end of Secondary 2. We will release more information in due course. I hope this Integrated Diploma Programme will build on our current efforts to enhance STEM education, and better cater to our young students who have great interest and aptitude in applied STEM.

Closing

12. Finally, at its ten-year mark, SST is now on the cusp of its next phase of development. As we look ahead to recover from this pandemic and prepare for a post-COVID world, we have to gear ourselves for a future that will be more disruptive, more complex, and more uncertain. So we must do more to help our youth adapt and thrive in this new environment. This would require new and innovative methods of learning so as to develop individuals with not just deep STEM expertise, but also other important qualities – adaptability and resilience, the disposition to keep on learning, and the ability to initiate positive change in society.

13. These are the qualities that you embody in SST and these are the qualities that we see in our SST graduates. So I very am confident that SST will continue to live out its raison d'ȇtre and develop a unique breed of inventive makers who will prove to be valuable contributors to Singapore. On that note, I look forward to the many exciting chapters ahead as you continue to pen the SST Story. Thank you very much and happy 10th anniversary everyone.