Speeches/Interviews

November 04, 2016

Speech by Minister Ng Chee Meng at Tao Nan School’s 110th Anniversary Celebration

1. A very good evening to you.

Tao Nan School – 110 years of education in Singapore

2. It is my pleasure to join you this evening to celebrate Tao Nan’s 110th birthday. Tao Nan School was first established in 1906 at a private residence before moving to Armenian Street in 1910. One of the six schools founded by the Singapore Hokkien Huay Kuan (SHHK), the school was set up by the community with the simple purpose of providing students with a good education so that they could contribute to the community and the society at large.

3. Initially admitting only Hokkien students, Tao Nan in 1909 became the first early Chinese school in Singapore to accept students from different dialect groups so as to increase cohesiveness within the Chinese community.

4. In 1916, Tao Nan became the first school to move away from using dialects to using Mandarin as the medium of instruction.

5. The Urban Renewal Programme in 1971 necessitated the relocation of the school to the present premises at Marine Crescent in 1982. Tao Nan then became a full-fledged English stream school to keep up with the needs of the nation.

6. Tao Nan has come a long way and has grown significantly over the years. Throughout its long history, the school has continuously responded to national and global changes, becoming one of the first schools identified to offer the SAP (Special Assistance Programme) and GEP (Gifted Education Programme) in the 1990s.

Beacon in Sharing

7. Having experienced success in various domains, I am pleased to note that Tao Nan also believes firmly in sharing its best practices with other schools. As a Centre of Excellence for Mathematics, Tao Nan has actively garnered resources to organise professional learning opportunities for Maths teachers in the East Zone. By setting up the Chinese Language Pedagogical Research Centre, many CL teachers have been brought together to level up their competencies through collaborative learning and pedagogical research.

8. The school remains a strong catalyst in the promotion of bilingualism and biculturalism. With the strong support from the Huay Kuan, Tao Nan, together with the other 4 affiliated primary schools, started the Bi-cultural Chinese Elective Programme, or BiCEP in short, in 2007. Through modules on Chinese culture, literature, translation and oral communication, BiCEP has been instrumental in raising the Chinese language proficiency of students. The out-of-class activities such as the P4 Oratorical Camp & P5 Overseas Immersion trips serve to further enrich the learning experiences of these students.

110th Anniversary Celebration

9. The theme for the school’s 110th Anniversary Celebration is “One Tao Nan Family”. It is a joyous celebration of the collaborative efforts and dedication of the school alumni, parents, teachers and students that have led to the noteworthy achievements of the school over the past 110 years.

10. Today, we are also here to celebrate the completion of the school’s upgrading of physical resources. With better facilities such as the Indoor Sports Hall, Programme for Active Learning (PAL) rooms, New Teaching Laboratory, our students’ learning can be greatly enhanced.

Joyful Learning, Lifelong Learners

11. While we can provide better physical resources, the wealth of a nation lies in its people – their commitment to the country and community, their willingness to strive and persevere, their ability to think, achieve and excel. Our future depends on the continuous renewal and regeneration of our leadership and citizenry, building upon the experiences of the past, learning from the circumstances of the present, and preparing for the challenges of the future.

12. As educators, we want to provide every child with the opportunity to develop holistically, to maximise his or her potential, so that they can thrive in the future. We want learning in all domains to be enduring and to be joyful, so that the child will continue to learn in his or her lifetime. How do we foster the joy of learning in our students? How can we help our students to be lifelong learners and to experience success beyond grades and certificates?

13. I am heartened to learn that Tao Nan School strives to imbue joy in learning for its students through ICT-infused lessons, hands-on activities and out-of-classroom learning.

14. The school vision, “Love to Learn and Learn to Love”, pledges the school’s commitment to nurture its students into self-directed and lifelong learners equipped with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to face challenges in the rapidly changing world, yet grounded in values and committed to serving our society.

15. We want our students to find learning an exciting journey and to have the intrinsic motivation to learn. The school’s Applied Learning Programme (ALP), “Application of Mathematics for Lifelong Learning (AML2)”, is a programme specially designed to enable the students to cultivate their interest in Mathematics, by making learning relevant and purposeful through extending their experiences beyond the curriculum and classroom. It provides opportunities for students to deepen their understanding of Mathematics and apply their learning in authentic life situations.

16. For example, while learning about the concept of length, Tay Kai Lin Cheria from P2B found it great fun to fold a paper aeroplane and have a flying competition with her classmates to see who could fly their aeroplane the furthest. Another example - while learning about fractions, Kiara Lee En Qi from P2H learnt about sharing a pizza equally among 5 children and she felt that she could apply this learning when she celebrates her birthday by cutting her birthday cake into equal pieces so that she can treat all her guests equally.

17. The school has also put in place a structured curriculum innovation programme which takes on a progressive approach to equip its students with the 21st century skills necessary for the globalised world we live in. The AdventureWorld! Programme provides students with the opportunities to work on real world issues and problems using the knowledge and skills that they have acquired through experiential learning.

18. As part of the school’s AdventureWorld! activities, students go through the process of analysing issues, identifying gaps and opportunities, creating solutions and convincing others to take actions. For example, to help students understand the characteristics of different materials, the students go through a thinking process to create piggybanks of different materials and then articulate the advantages and disadvantages of using that particular material and decide on the most appropriate material to use for the product.

19. It’s a small step, but the programme is a lead up to cultivating more entrepreneurial dare in the students, to encourage them to think out of the box.

Caring and Supportive School Culture

20. For our students to enjoy learning, they must have a safe and supportive environment to explore and discover their strengths and interests. Our teachers and staff play an important role in shaping the school culture. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the teachers and school leaders of Tao Nan School, past and present, for their relentless efforts in nurturing our young and providing the opportunities and guidance for them to grow and develop their potential to the fullest.

Closing Remarks

21. In conclusion, I wish to extend my heartiest congratulations and best wishes to the school leaders and teachers, students, alumni and parents of Tao Nan School, and also to the Singapore Hokkien Huay Kuan. Happy 110th Anniversary! With the strong support from all stakeholders, and the hard work and dedication of its staff, I am confident that Tao Nan School will continue to push the boundaries and rise to greater heights in its pursuit to provide a student-centric, values-driven education for its students.

22. Thank you.