Students need to learn from their mistakes and be self-reliant, Ng Chee Meng tells educators

 Minister for Education (Schools) Ng Chee Meng stressed to educators on Dec 29, 2016, the importance of cultivating in students "an attitude of lifelong learning".
Minister for Education (Schools) Ng Chee Meng stressed to educators on Dec 29, 2016, the importance of cultivating in students "an attitude of lifelong learning".PHOTO: ST FILE

Singapore - Students need to learn to be resilient and self-reliant, as well as learn from their mistakes, Minister for Education (Schools) Ng Chee Meng told educators on Thursday.

"Are we, out of the best intentions, preventing our students from going through setbacks and failures and in the process, learn and build resilience?" said Mr Ng, who was speaking at the Appointment and Appreciation Ceremony for Principals and addressing a crowd of more than 500 people, most of them educators.

"Perhaps we need to let our students learn from their own mistakes, find their own solutions, and put in the necessary hard work or corrective action to eventually succeed. School leaders, teachers and parents alike, may need to learn how to selectively stand back and be an observer rather than intervene too early."

Sixty-one principals received their letters of appointment on Thursdayat the event, of which 13 are newly appointed.

One of them is Mr Chan Choon Loong, 38, who has been in the education sector for 13 years. He will be the principal of Northbrooks Secondary School.

Mr Chan intends to build upon the school's existing aerospace and outdoor education programmes, and work with industry partners to boost these programmes. He said: "These two programmes offer a good platform to develop character, grit and resilience, and to go beyond their comfort zones."

Among the 61 appointed principals are those who will helm the seven merged secondary schools - Marsiling, Meridian and Northland Secondary-from next year.

CHIJ St Nicholas Girls' School, Dunman High School and Nanyang and Catholic Junior College will also get new principals.

In his speech, Mr Ng also highlighted the importance of cultivating in students "an attitude of lifelong learning", one that comes from "a joy of learning", and of the need to prepare students for an increasingly connected and high-tech workplace to reduce the "growing skills gap between what we learn in schools and the jobs (graduates) are applying for".

He said that schools' Applied Learning Programmes "can help prepare our students for the future workplace as they can learn innovation, and nurture an entrepreneurial attitude in their learning".

The ceremony also acknowledged the contributions of 17 retiring principals and former principals.

One of the m is Nanyang Junior College principal Kwek Hiok Chuang, who will retire after 37 years in education. Mr Kwek, who chalked up many accolades in his long career, was the principal of four schools. He was the founding principal of North View Secondary and Pioneer Junior College.

Another retiring principal, Madam Tan Bin Eng, 61, who has spent 33 years in education, most recently with St Andrew's Junior School, has these words of advice for newly-appointed principals: "The first thing (to do) is to know the people, the school's culture, rather than making changes very hastily."