When a primary school dropout makes it to polytechnic and a 50-year-old woman enrols at the Institute of Technical Education (ITE), it shows that Singapore's education system provides opportunities to bring out the best in everyone, said Education Minister Heng Swee Keat.
"That is why I'm so committed to making every school a good school, because every child is a child of Singapore, every adult is a member of our society," he said yesterday at the People's Action Party (PAP) lunchtime rally at the promenade outside UOB Plaza.
Whether it is the ITE, polytechnic, university or the SkillsFuture scheme to promote continual education and training, the focus is on broadening pathways to success, he said.
But ultimately, a good education alone is not enough, said Mr Heng, who leads the PAP's five-member team in Tampines GRC.
"What do our students do when they finish school? Do they have jobs to go to? Do they have continuing opportunities to train, to learn? It all depends on one thing.
STRONG MANDATE WANTED
This GE is about selecting a team that can best serve you. We are taking every contest in every constituency seriously. If we do not vote wisely, we may wake up in the morning and find that another party, or even a coalition, is in power, and the PAP is out. If you want the PAP to form the government, give us a strong mandate so we can continue to shine as a little red dot.
EDUCATION MINISTER HENG SWEE KEAT at the end of the PAP's Tampines GRC rally
It depends on whether Singapore succeeds. If Singapore fails, the best education we give to our children will just mean one thing, that they have to go to other countries to find opportunities. Do we want that?"
PAP newcomer Amrin Amin offered himself as an example of what goes right in an education system that offers opportunities to all. A candidate in Sembawang GRC, he told the crowd at the rally: "My parents took on multiple jobs to support us. I went to ordinary schools in Singapore - I am now a lawyer."
He said it was unlikely that a minority-race individual from a background like his would have as many good opportunities in another country.
He also did not think a two- or three-party system would fulfil the aspirations of minority communities.
The PAP candidate in single- seat Fengshan, Ms Cheryl Chan, said that with a strong team of leaders in place, Singaporeans will be assured that meritocracy will prevail for another 50 years.
Another new face, Mr Darryl David, a father of two who is a candidate in Ang Mo Kio GRC, said his concern is providing quality after- care for families with young children.