Speeches/Interviews

April 05, 2018

Speech by Ng Chee Meng, Minister for Education (Schools) at the Caring Teacher Awards 2018 Presentation Ceremony

1.I am delighted to join you today, at this presentation ceremony of the 12th Caring Teacher Awards. Teachers will always have a special place in my heart.

Honouring Teachers Who Bring out the Best in our People

2. Today is a celebration of seeing our teachers succeed, and recognising their success. There were over 2000 submissions for this award, of which 10 were finally selected. This shows the quality, the commitment and the love of our teaching service. Before I congratulate the awardees, let me extend my heartiest thank you to all the teachers who have made a difference in all our lives here.

3. Our teachers truly live out their teacher’s pledge each and every day. They bring out the best in their students, and develop their love of learning. I experienced this as a boy, and also as a Minister. When I visit the schools, I see this in the daily activities of the teachers, and some even beyond the activities of the school and going the extra mile.

4. We all know what a difference this can make to the students’ lives. Their care and concern is the ballast for many of our students when they face challenges whether in school exams, difficulty coping with grades, or different aspects of school life or a teenager’s life, and in all these, our teachers make a difference with a listening ear and a caring heart.

5. We all know our teachers go beyond the classroom to take care of all of us. A teacher’s care has always made a great impact on a child’s holistic development, and on his or her overall social and emotional well-being.

6. This is especially so today, in our information age, where our students are pounded every day by the digital maze. Our teachers play an important role in helping them navigate this mass of information at a very young age: about learning the values of mutual respect, responsibilities and how to treat each other. More importantly, how to ensure their moral compass guides them in life.

7. Teachers are at the heart of this whole journey. Teachers take it upon themselves to guide their charges, creating the time and space for students to better understand themselves, their strengths and weaknesses and even interests and passions. Teachers who know that exams are not the be all and end all of education. They know that it is more important for a child to grow into a confident, empathetic and resilient individual – all the attributes that make a complete person.

8. I have many teachers whom I am grateful to, including both firm disciplinarians and nurturing figures. All these teachers have made an impact in my life. Honestly, I have forgotten what they taught me in Science or Physics, but as role models, they have made a significant difference in how I do things and how I see life. I’m very happy that the 10 award recipients today carry on the fine tradition of caring teachers. My teachers have all retired but this tradition that is carried on by the 10 of you is worth celebrating.

9. One example is Mrs Sharon Choo-Tan Su Cheng from Kheng Cheng School. She is respected and known for going the extra mile for one of her students. One example is Ilyas - a Primary 3 student in her class who has special needs. Mrs Choo made the effort to read up about autism and worked closely with the school’s Allied Educator in Teaching and Learning, to make sure that she could be more effective in meeting Ilyas’ needs. Over time, she understood Ilyas’ needs, strengths and learning style so that her approach to care for him would help bring out the best in Ilyas. Mrs Choo cares deeply for her students, and works with the entire team in school to ensure that Ilyas does not feel left behind despite his condition.

A Caring, Committed Education Service

10. Mrs Choo is not alone in caring wholeheartedly for her students. The nine other teachers who are receiving their Awards today are at varying stages of their teaching journey, but they are all role models in their own right.

11. We have Mr Emmanuel Chng from Compassvale Secondary School, who has been teaching for four years. To help his students prepare for their O-level exams, Mr Chng made the extra effort to drop by Sengkang Community Club to help them in their revision during the weekends.

12. We also have Ms Choo Lay Kian from Jurong Junior College, who has been teaching for almost 20 years, and has guided many students facing difficult problems. In one impactful instance, she supported her student whose mother met with an accident and was hospitalised due to an injury. Worried that her student was not coping in her studies and other aspects, Ms Choo visited them in the hospital after school to make sure everything was okay.

13. Care as such etches deeply into the heart and leaves an imprint that a student will never forget. It makes all the difference as beyond words, the actions of our teachers carry the impact that only teachers can fulfil. Once again, congratulations and thank you for carrying on the fine tradition of a teacher.

Celebrating Partnerships with the Community

14. I would also like to thank NIE for organising, and Exxonmobil for sponsoring the Caring Teacher Awards for the last 20 years. This strong collaboration is something I am thankful for, and we are thankful for Exxonmobil stepping up to invest in the community and in education.

15. At MOE, we value community partners like these – whether from the public, private or people sector – so that we can work hand-in-hand to nurture, empower and enable our students. Caring is best done when it is in a team. In the community I am grateful that there are so many of you willing to work together.

Conclusion

16. In conclusion, I would also like to thank all our teachers for being positive role models to our students. More than the knowledge that you impart, it is perhaps even more important to have the values that you are teaching. It is really the ultimate holistic bringing together of a complete education, where we develop our children in intellect, empathy and values. I truly appreciate all of you and let us journey through this wonderful mission of preparing our young for the future of our nation. Thank you for being caring teachers.