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Ong Ye Kung on why clan families given registration priority: “Without them, these schools would not be here”

"Without them (clans), these schools would not be here,” the Education Minister said. "Today, they continue to play the role of upholding the tradition and culture of the schools and the community that started them.”

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Singapore— At a ceremony recognising outstanding Teachers held at the Singapore Hokkien Huay Kuan (SHHK), the country’s Education Minister, Ong Ye Kung, reminded everyone present as to the significant contribution that key stakeholders like parents and the Chinese community have made to the educational system.

Mr Ong says he sometimes gets asked for the reason why the children of clan members may avail of an earlier phase for Primary 1 registration.

He talked about the history and beginnings of government-aided schools, and how much stakeholders have contributed to the bigger picture.

“Without them, these schools would not be here,” the Education Minister said. “Today, they continue to play the role of upholding the tradition and culture of the schools and the community that started them.”

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As an example, he cited the contributions of SHHK, which established 6 schools in all, which are Chongfu (formerly Chong Hock Girls’ School), Nan Chiau High School and Primary School, Ai Tong, Kong Hwa, and Tao Nan – founded in 1906, the oldest of all the schools.

He added, “These are all wonderful examples of schools set up by the community and for the community… Given their origins and the historical backdrop of their origins, these schools also carried the ethos, the culture and the values of their founding communities.”

These learning institutions, as well as those established by other communities across the country, are what is known as government-aided schools, which are different from government schools, which are owned by the government. Government-aided schools, on the other hand, are staffed by MOE teachers, and receive funding from the government.

For registering for Primary 1 for these schools, enrollees belonging to clans or have church connections may apply in the second of 4 phases, or Phase 2B.

Not everyone has agreed with giving these children priority, and there have even been calls for the MOE to add spaces for children who live near the schools.

Mr Ong, who is the chairman of the Chinese Community Liaison Group, said to the 1000-strong audience at the at the Leap (Listening Educator for Advancement and Progress) award presentation ceremony held at Fairmont Singapore Hotel, “It is only through education that students will learn to contribute back to society, continuing the good Chinese tradition of ‘using what society has given you for society.’”

From the 224 teachers nominated for the outstanding teacher award, 10 were awarded under the sponsorship of SHHK.

The awards were given for teachers with exemplary contributions in nurturing their students.

According to SHHK’s website, “The LEAP Award (飞跃教师奖), which stands for “Listening Educator for Advancement and Progress Award”, was launched by the late former President S R Nathan in 2011 and awarded by Singapore Hokkien Huay Kuan (SHHK) annually to recognise exceptional teachers who wholeheartedly have made a positive impact in nurturing their students. The naming of the award signifies a leap of faith taken by a teacher us believing that students have the potential to excel beyond their capabilities.”/ TISG

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