Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Finance, and Chairman, SINDA
Ms Indranee Rajah, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Law and Ministry of Education, and President, SINDA
Mr K Barathan, CEO of SINDA
Members of the SINDA Board of Trustees and Executive Committee
Distinguished Guests, Award Recipients, Parents
Ladies and Gentlemen
1. A very good morning. I am pleased to join you at today’s SINDA Excellence Awards 2015. We are here today to celebrate success, recognise exceptional achievements and honour the determined spirit of Indian students and youth.
2. 414 outstanding students across various levels of academics, sports and arts will receive the SEA award today. Each and every one of you is a testament to what can be achieved when you combine hard work with sheer determination and positive aspirations. You should also remember that you are here today not just because of your efforts but also because of the support and encouragement from your families.
Seizing Academic Opportunities
3. History tells us that education has not always been available to all. It was once a luxury that only a select few could afford. Many of our pioneers never had the opportunity to receive a full education, as they were often encouraged to start work early to help support the family or stay home and help with household matters. For others it may have been a financial challenge to pursue further studies. Many parents here will testify that those were the days when education was not always a priority.
4. But there has been a tremendous change since then. Today every child is expected to undergo a rigorous academic journey—one that will prepare you for what lies ahead. Parents too place great emphasis on their children’s education. The government on the other hand, invests heavily in our education programmes to give our children their best start in their life.
5. Hence, it is important that each one of you makes full use of the learning opportunities that are available to you. The education journey that you undergo will form the foundation of your future and will impact your experiences as you journey through life.
6. There is also no longer the notion that there is only a single path to success. Instead, there exist multiple routes, each with its unique opportunities; and you as the student, are increasingly empowered to choose the path that best aligns to your passions, strengths, skills and abilities.
7. We can see this demonstrated today. The recipients present here came through close to twenty different pathways towards excellence. Each one of you has gone down a different route, worked hard and achieved exceptional success.
8. A sound education and the relevant qualifications will contribute to you being adequately prepared to face the rigors of your career and its many associated challenges. However qualifications alone are not everything.
9. You must become confident individuals who are discerning, adaptive and resilient; You must persevere in a culture of life-long learning; You must look at yourself not just as workers, but as active contributors in your work.
10. To prepare our students well for what lies ahead in their lives, we must challenge our students to think out of the box and be creative in finding solutions.
11. When you do come across challenges, do not take them as setbacks or failures but opportunities to break new grounds and to find new solutions. If something does not go the way you want it to, learn from it and improve yourselves.
12. Self-Help Groups such as SINDA have been supporting and promoting holistic development amongst students and youth. SINDA is well known for its academic programmes, but that is not all it does. Beyond academics, a number of SINDA programmes also work with high-achieving youth such as yourselves, to develop them into confident, active and passionate youth leaders of the community. Through such programmes, SINDA encourages divergent thinking in our youth and encourages them to give back to society.
13. It is in the same spirit that SINDA celebrates both academic and non-academic achievements through the SINDA Excellence Awards. I wish to take this opportunity to highlight some of our student achievers here.
Recipient 1 – Chris Ganaesh Xavier
14. Chris Ganaesh Xavier will be receiving the SEA award today for attaining a score of 267 at PSLE at Cantonment Primary School. He was the top student at the school, having attained four A*s, and is currently enrolled at the NUS High School of Maths and Science.
15. Chris is also a recipient of multiple awards in school, all testaments to his passion for his studies. In 2013 and 2014, he received the Edusave Character Awards, which recognise students for demonstrating exemplary character and outstanding personal qualities through their behaviour and actions. He also received the EAGLES Award in 2014 together with the Prime Minister’s Book Prize this year. Chris is not just all brains. He has a good heart too.
16. A school prefect in his primary school, Chris aims to be a doctor someday. He attributes this to his passion of wanting to serve the poor and needy. He hopes that he can help his patients recover and regain strength and happiness yet again. In his own words: “Service to humanity shall be my purpose and I will live up to it at all costs.”
Recipient 2 – Dipna Lim Prasad
17. Next is Dipna Lim Prasad, a name well known to many of you. The 24-year old sportswoman achieved Silver in the 400m Hurdles at the recent SEA Games, a first for Singapore, and has also rewritten many other national records. Dipna has been the proud recipient of many previous SINDA Excellence Awards, for representing Singapore in athletics as well as staying focused on her academics.
18. Contrary to popular belief, the Nanyang Technological University Sport Science and Management graduate has not always been the fastest runner. Her sheer grit and tenacity were key reasons that bring her this far and she owes her success to never giving up, being very clear on what she wants and working hard towards her goals.
19. She now has her sights on the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympic Games, and I’m sure that her perseverance will bring her continued victories.
Recipient 3 – Mukkesh Kumar
20. The third and final recipient I want to highlight today is Mukkesh Kumar, who you will hear from later in the programme. Mukkesh, a second time SEA recipient, receives the award today for attaining a first-class honours degree in the Bachelors of Engineering from the Singapore Institute of Technology. He was previously the top scorer in his secondary school, as well as the first student from his school to obtain an aggregate score of 6 points.
21. He has also been a model student who has received numerous awards and scholarships: The National Youth Achievement Gold Award; The Singapore Polytechnic’s Model Student Awards as well as the CCA Distinction Award; the MOE Edusave Scholarships from 2003 to 2006, the Singapore Indian Education Trust’s Achievement Award for three year; the lists of awards keeps going on.
22. Imbued deep within Mukkesh is the belief that life’s greatest use is to spend it on something that will outlast life itself. He hopes that his strong passion for statistical research analysis will one day make a positive difference to the lives of many.
23. Chris, Dipna and Mukkesh are individuals who have a very clear vision of what they want to be in the future. In them we see the thirst to achieve, the hunger to succeed and the drive to lead positive and meaningful lives. Just like them, each one of you stands true to the pursuit of excellence. You have made your families, friends and the Indian community proud. You have made Singapore proud.
24. I wish all of you the very best for your future endeavours. You are role models to your fellow peers as well as the generations to come. My congratulations to all of you and my best wishes for your continued success.
25. Thank you.