Education Minister: Give every child a 'compass' and provide them with role models

NUSS Project sub commitee chairperson Lai Kim Seng, NUSS President David Ho, Education Minister Heng Swee Keat, Immediate Past President NUSS and NUS Alumni Bursary Fund Chairman Johnny Tan, launching the fourth NUSS guild house at Suntec City on Mar
NUSS Project sub commitee chairperson Lai Kim Seng, NUSS President David Ho, Education Minister Heng Swee Keat, Immediate Past President NUSS and NUS Alumni Bursary Fund Chairman Johnny Tan, launching the fourth NUSS guild house at Suntec City on March 7, 2013. -- PHOTO: NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF SINGAPORE SOCIETY
(From left) NUSS President David Ho, Education Minister Heng Swee Keat, NUS Alumni Bursary Fund Chairman and NUSS Immediate Past President Johnny Tan, and NUS Board of Trustees Chairman Wong Ngit Liong, holding up a cheque of $250,000, which NUSS don
(From left) NUSS President David Ho, Education Minister Heng Swee Keat, NUS Alumni Bursary Fund Chairman and NUSS Immediate Past President Johnny Tan, and NUS Board of Trustees Chairman Wong Ngit Liong, holding up a cheque of $250,000, which NUSS donated to the university's Alumni Bursary Fund on March 7, 2013. -- PHOTO: NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF SINGAPORE SOCIETY

Rather than hand out a map with a well-marked path, there is a need to give every child a "compass and navigation skills", said Minister for Education Heng Swee Keat on Friday evening.

These include a sense of purpose, a moral sense of right and wrong, perseverance, and care for other people.

Mr Heng was speaking at the opening of the fourth National University of Singapore Society's (NUSS) guild house at Suntec City Tower 5, which kicked off the start of the alumni club's 60th anniversary celebrations this year.

This was just a couple of hours after he had spoken at the education ministry's Committee of Supply hearing in Parliament.

Mr Heng had announced that education bursaries to universities, polytechnics, and Institutes of Technical Education will be increased.

But addressing a room of more than a hundred NUS alumni, he said that while these monetary schemes may help, there is one thing the Government cannot do: Reach out in a personal way to students.

He went on to stress the need for "role models" who can inspire children to "overcome the odds" and succeed in life.

The minister also applauded the NUS Alumni Bursary Fund, which was set up in July last year to offer financial assistance to needy undergraduates.

Earlier in the evening, NUSS had donated a sum of $250,000 to the fund.

"It is great to see successful members giving back to our society," he said. "It sets an example for younger generations... and in that way we create a virtuous cycle in which those who are successful will do more and help those who are less successful."