Pioneer educators gather to celebrate SG50 at Gardens by the Bay

SINGAPORE - More than 11,200 pioneer educators and their guests celebrated the nation's jubilee on Saturday morning. Among them were retired principal Mangalesvary Ambiavagar, who is 101 this year.

Education Minister Heng Swee Keat said he was reminded of a speech late Mr Lee Kuan Yew gave at the rally of teachers in 1959. Then, Mr Lee had reminded the teachers gathered before him that they were "the most influential group of 10,600 people anywhere in Singapore" because they were caring for impressionable youth.

To the pioneers gathered at Gardens by the Bay, Mr Heng said: "It is not an overstatement when I say: Every person in Singapore today passed through your collective hands."

Mr Heng, who is also chairman of the SG50 Steering Committee, launched three SG50 commemorative coins at the event. The coins, with values of $2, $5 and $50, have an education theme and "encapsulates education's enduring role in nationhood", he said.