[About this blog] Inspired by local soccer player Mike Lim during my rookie reporter days at Singapore Polytechnic, I set up this blog in August 2002. I feel that blogging is a novel platform to document interesting facets of my life and my thoughts on certain issues. [Email blogger] ephraim@singnet.com.sg

Sunday, November 18, 2007

[CHIJ 50 Anniversary]

Ms Teo Lian Geok, Cluster Superintendent
Sr Deirdre, IJ Supervisor and Members of the IJ Board
Mrs Liu Seok Noi, Principal, CHIJ Our Lady of the Nativity
Distinguished guests
Teachers, Parents
Ladies and Gentlemen

1. I am delighted to join all of you this evening for CHIJ Our Lady of the Nativity’s 50th anniversary.

2. The theme for the anniversary, “I AM the Difference” captures the underlying philosophy of the IJ schools. When all is said and done, the judgment of an individual life is how much difference it has made to the world around her. A child may be very talented but if, when she grows up, she lives only for herself, that’s not a very good life. On the other hand, a child less talented, who becomes a loving adult caring for others, lives a much better life. It has always been the mission of the IJ schools to bring out the best in the child so that she can make a contribution to society. Whether the contribution is big or small is not the point because we are not all the same and each has a different calling. The point is to make a difference, to add and not to subtract.

3. We all know that a school is much more than bricks and mortar. Good facilities are helpful but they are neither necessary nor sufficient. What matter most are the quality of the education and the ability of teachers to inspire young minds. Every child is unique; every child is special. Each has to be cared for as an autonomous individual. Over 50 years, CHIJ OLN has educated thousands of girls, many of whom became fine adults, as mothers and grandmothers, as wives and daughters, as upright citizens of Singapore. Generations of board members, principals and teachers have done this work with dedication and love. We thank each and every one of them. Many are of course here this evening to join in the celebrations.

4. In many ways, the history of CHIJ OLN mirrors the history of Singapore, in particular, the history of the Hougang-Punggol area. With economic development, school buildings and facilities have improved, teachers are better trained, parents are more knowledgeable and demanding, and pedagogical methods have become more advanced. What is most important is for our girls to be equipped with the necessary skills to fit into a society and an economy that have become more sophisticated. The life of a school cannot be divorced from the life of the community which it serves.

5. Looking ahead, it is essential for our girls to have a sense of the big changes taking place in Asia and the world. The re-emergence of China and India on the global stage, for example, will affect every aspect of our lives here. We have to prepare the young for new challenges. It is right that CHIJ OLN should have an active overseas programme including student exchanges with Beihang Primary School in Beijing and Oyake Elementary School in Osaka.

6. With rapid technological progress, what knowledge we learn in school quickly becomes obsolete. In this new world, an individual must never stop learning. She must never lose her childlike curiosity to discover and try new things. For this reason, CHIJ OLN constantly emphasizes the education of the whole child, imbuing her with a sense of responsibility, a love of knowledge and a concern for our multi-ethnic and multi-religious community.

7. I know how much the school involves pupils in community activities because I am the Member of Parliament here. For example, every year the school organizes a Mid-Autumn celebration at Punggol Lake together with neighbouring residents’ committees. The pupils also help repaint void deck walls. They take part in cleanliness and other campaigns. They put up performances for local residents. I thank the teachers and parents for fostering this civic spirit which is so important for the well-being of our society.

8. The school’s vision to provide a nurturing and supportive learning environment where pupils are developed to their fullest potential with a passion for life-long learning and a readiness to serve other is a beacon shining the way forward for girls passing through its portals. On this 50th anniversary, I congratulate the IJ Board of Management, the Principal, Staff and Pupils on your contribution to the Hougang-Punggol area and to Singapore. You are justifiably proud of the school’s many achievements. May CHIJ OLN continue to provide its hallmark education for girls helping each to make a difference. God bless.

Message from Foreign Minister George Yeo
CHIJ 50th anniversary commemorative magazine

Education is about our future. It is about shaping young minds, instilling values and nurturing spirits so that the next generation will be able to pursue dreams and contribute to society. CHIJ Our Lady of the Nativity has always been faithful to this mission of its founding Infant Jesus sisters. It has a strong tradition of providing a high quality of education that is balanced and holistic so that the child is well-prepared for adult life.

The vision of the school is: to provide a nurturing and supportive learning environment where pupils are developed to their fullest potential with a passion for life-long learning and a readiness to serve others. To realize this vision, the school organizes a wide range of activities beyond the academic curriculum. It stresses social work and national education so that pupils develop an affection for the community to which they belong. It has an active overseas programme in China and Japan so that pupils are exposed to different cultures and environments. In doing all this, the school works closely with parents and community groups whose support is vital. CHIJ OLN has been an organic part of our lives in the Hougang-Punggol area in the last 50 years.

As the school marks its 50th anniversary, I congratulate the IJ Board of Management, the Benefactors, Principal, Staff, Pupils and Parents on their many achievements. May CHIJ OLN continue to provide a good education to its pupils, scale new peaks and make an even greater difference to the lives of many!

Mr George Yeo
Minister for Foreign Affairs

Do also read my posts on Beyond SG


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