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Graduation 2011 - Speech by Professor Er Meng Hwa, Member of Singapore Sports School Board of Directors

I am honoured to be here this afternoon to give an address to the Class of 2011 at this joyous occasion. First of all, I would like to congratulate all the graduands here for your success in completing your education at Singapore Sports School. I applaud you for your hard work, courage and determination. You have every reason to celebrate your achievements with your family and friends during this graduation ceremony. My congratulations also go to the parents and family members of all the graduands. It is through your love and unwavering support that they are able to attain this significant achievement today.

Graduation is not only a time for celebration but also for a time for reflection and anticipation. The integrated academic and sports programme offered by Singapore Sports School has provided you not only with multiple academic pathways for you to pursue your career aspirations. It has also given you a solid character and values education through sports education which is equally important.

The Chinese have long put an equal emphasis on five aspects of education: moral education, mental education, physical education, education for social life, and aesthetic education. Recently, the Ministry of Education announced that character and values education will be given a renewed emphasis to imbue the nation's youth with moral resolve, confidence and self awareness. I believe that Singapore Sports School is ahead of its time and has provided you with a complete education encompassing these five aspects of education in a holistic manner.

Research has showed that sport and physical education is fundamental to the early development of youth. The skills learned during sport and physical education contribute to the holistic development of young people who plays a pivotal role in the development of a nation and its society. Through participation in sport and physical education, young people learn about the importance of key values such as honesty, teamwork, fair play, respect for others, and discipline. It also provides a platform for young people to deal with competition and taste the inevitable of victory and failure, pride and frustration, applause and criticisms. All these are important life skills and qualities that will see you through whatever comes your way.

Singapore Sports School is one of the few schools in Singapore that offers multiple academic pathways for its student-athletes. Since the school started, 50 per cent of Sports School student-athletes graduated on the GCE "O" level pathway and while the other 50 per cent of Sports School graduates were on the through train pathway towards diploma programmes. With their academic achievements, 9 out of 10 Sports School graduates (over 93 per cent) are eligible for progression into a local Junior College/Pre-University/Polytechnic programme. Many other also gained admission into post-secondary institutions based on their sports and academic achievements.

Currently, 60 per cent of the first two batches of graduates - those who graduated in 2006 and 2007 - are pursuing their first degree in both local and overseas universities. Another 27 per cent of them have plans to enroll into university courses in the near future. The others are either sports professionals, working, studying or serving national service.

For those who are in the universities, a number of them were offered scholarships to pursue their studies. These include the Nanyang Scholarship, the E W Barker NTU Scholarships, the NTU Engineering Scholarships, the NUS Global Merit Undergraduate Scholarships and a range of Sports Scholarships, such as Indeco Sports Scholarships, Singapore Sports Council Scholarships and Wichita State University Sports Scholarships.

The degree courses studied are varied, including sports science and management, business and management, accounting, engineering, digital animation, education, social sciences, psychology, human biology, marine science, mass communication and law.

It is indeed encouraging to see that the Sports School graduates are performing well in their tertiary education and I am confident that the Class of 2011 will perform equally well or even better than their seniors.

The Class of 2011 is also the first batch of graduates from our School who witnessed and participated in the inaugural Youth Olympic Games held in Singapore last year. Some of you had also represented Singapore in the YOG team and competed with the best young athletes in your age-group from around the world. The experience gained is indeed invaluable. It is also heart-warming to know that eight of the football boys from Sports School were in the YOG team who brought Singapore glory to win the 3rd position.

Among you are also twice Sailing World Champion Darren Choy who won the Byte CII title in 2009 and 2010, Synchronised Swimmer Stephanie Chen who was a FINA World Championships Team finalist and is SEA-Games bound, along with golfer Marc Ong, silat exponent Muhammad Danial Azlani and tracker Wendy En. You have shown that it is possible to balance sports with studies and succeed in both.

Today's graduation marks the beginning of a new chapter in your life. Singapore Sports School has laid a solid foundation for you, not only by equipping you with the knowledge and skills, but also through developing your character. From now on, you have to work out your own road map and the journey to success, which sometimes can be full of uncertainties. However, with the core values of respect, integrity, responsibility, excellence and resilience instilled in you, I am confident that you will be able to overcome the uncertainties and achieve great success.

On this note, may I wish you courage to pursue your career goals. Some people dream of worthy accomplishments, and yet, other stay awake to do them. I believe that the best preparation for tomorrow is to do your best today. Once again, I would like to offer my congratulations to the graduands and wish you all the very best in your future endeavours.

Thank you.