SINGAPORE - Mathematics teacher Farah Haider Alsagoff knew she had to equip her pupils with a strong foundation in the subject when she witnessed a pupil who had a one-dollar coin think he did not have enough money to buy a drink that cost 50 cents.
The 35-year-old created an inter-class mathematics competition called Math Wars with the support of her department at Chongzheng Primary School, to get pupils interested in the subject.
There were multiple rounds in the competition where pupils would work in groups to answer questions. "The competition is meant to be engaging, exciting and collaborative, especially because no one works alone," said Madam Farah.
Along with five other teachers, she was awarded the Outstanding Youth in Education Award (OYEA) by the Ministry of Education (MOE), at the first of three National Institute of Education Teachers' Investiture Ceremonies on Wednesday (July 5).
The OYEA is a national award that recognises young teachers for their dedication and active involvement in youth development.
This year, a total of 3,816 nominations from members of the public and schools were submitted for 962 teachers from 237 schools.
Minister for Education (Schools) Ng Chee Meng presented the award to the six recipients. Speaking at the ceremony at Nanyang Technological University's Nanyang Auditorium, he stressed the importance of teachers having to impart skills that go beyond the subjects that they teach.
"You are key, no matter what you teach, to creating an environment that would encourage your students to take risks, so that they can be nimble and resilient. Have the courage to try new ways of teaching and reaching out to your students," said Mr Ng, who is also the Second Minister for Transport.
The three ceremonies will see a total of 1,081 new and returning teachers graduate as full-fledged teachers.
Mr Aaron Lim, 25, who graduated as the valedictorian of his cohort with a Bachelor of Science (Education), said he knew he wanted to be a teacher since he was in secondary school. He had been inspired by his upper secondary biology teacher, Ms Chen Li Yan, at St Patrick's School.
As biology was not his strongest subject, he tried to avoid it, but Ms Chen took the time to talk to him and motivate him. He eventually scored a distinction in the subject at the O levels.
"I hope to make a positive impact on my students' lives and shape them to become better citizens of the world," said Mr Lim, who will head to Imperial College London to pursue his master's degree under an MOE postgraduate sponsorship.