YMCA School 100th Anniversary Dinner

Posted on: August 30th, 2013 by admin No Comments

Speech by Mr Heng Swee Keat, Minister for Education at the YMCA School 100th Anniversary Dinner on Wednesday, 31 July 2013 at Waterfront Copthorne Hotel

Mr Stephen Loh,
President, YMCA of Singapore,

Members of the YMCA Board,

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

1          My wife and I are delighted to join you on this very special occasion to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the YMCA school with you. Thank you for inviting us.

2          The YMCA is one of the oldest and largest movements for youth in the world, with a membership of more than 45 million people in 120 different countries. Since its establishment in 1902, the YMCA of Singapore has made important contributions in the social services and educational areas. The YMCA has pioneered and sustained many initiatives through the years. Education in particular has remained a cornerstone of YMCA’s effort to engage and enrich mind, body and soul.

YMCA’s Commitment to Holistic Education

3          Mr Stephen Loh, in his earlier address, has shared a brief history of the YMCA school. He also touched on the work of the school in providing a holistic education for its students. I understand that the school intends to embark on even more service learning initiatives for its students next year, to better support its character education programme. In this regard, I commend the efforts of the Principal, Mrs Helen Tan, a very experienced and respected educator, and her team of dedicated staff in emphasising the learning of values and the building of character. I am glad that the school, together with the YMCA of Singapore, has been active in contributing back to the community in many meaningful ways, and parents and students have responded enthusiastically.

YMCA’s Initiatives to Support Holistic Education

4          Beyond the YMCA School, the YMCA has also been creating platforms for our youth to engage in volunteer activities and service learning. Such initiatives include the Uni-Ys, a social service club set up in our Universities, as well as the High School YMCAs, also known as Hi-Y, for students at our Junior Colleges. The annual Citibank-YMCA Youth for Causes programme has been running since 2002, to promote social entrepreneurship and community leadership. Last year, 400 Citi-YMCA Youth for Causes participants mobilised more than 10,000 volunteers, raising more than $600,000 for 43 VWOs. I met many of the participants. I was very encouraged to see our youths translating their values and beliefs to action for the many beneficiaries in Singapore.

5          I thank the YMCA for your support in complementing our efforts in schools to promote values-in-action, and to develop our youths to become concerned citizens and active contributors. I hope that more private sector organisations and VWOs will step forward to do the same, to realise our aspiration of a more caring society in Singapore.


6          As our society progresses, the aspirations of Singaporeans also rise. I am encouraged that our society places a high value on learning – this is an important way for our people to realise their aspirations and to create opportunities for themselves and others. Although our education system is well regarded, the Ministry of Education is continuing to seek ways of raising the quality of our education and expanding pathways and opportunities for students.

7          Beside the schools and institutes of higher learning under the Ministry, many education institutions, run as either for-profit or non-profit entities, have also been set up in recent years. Whatever the corporate structure, one thing is clear: parents and students place their trust and confidence in the institution, and it is their responsibility to ensure that students under their charge are provided with relevant and rigorous programmes that are suited for them and taught by well trained educators. In this way, the students under their charge can derive the full benefits.

8          I am encouraged that the YMCA school has been seeking to put students’ well-being at the heart of your operations. All our privately-funded institutions need to abide by this principle.

9          Today, the YMCA School celebrates its 100 year heritage — an admirable achievement for any institution in Singapore, considering that our nation will only be celebrating its 48th birthday next month! It is my hope that the YMCA and the YMCA School will continue your good work, whether it is through education, or in pioneering new ways of serving the community, to achieve its aim of touching lives and lifting spirits. I wish you all the best in the next stage of your journey and a pleasant evening.

Speech taken from: http://www.moe.gov.sg/media/speeches/2013/07/31/speech-by-mr-heng-swee-keat-at-the-ymca-school-100th-anniversary-dinner.php