Thursday, 4 June 2015

Pre-University Seminar 2015

Minister Lawrence Wong: Look beyond yourself and serve others
By Tee Zhuo, The Straits Times, 2 Jun 2015

Lead a life of meaning by contributing to the community, the nation, and even the world.

That was the main lesson Mr Lawrence Wong, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth hoped to impart to students at a ceremony earlier this afternoon.

Enjoyed interacting with our students at the Pre-University seminar yesterday. It's my first time at the seminar - I...
Posted by Lawrence Wong on Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Mr Wong, who is also Second Minister for Communications and Information, told students to look beyond "individual happiness" in thinking about their studies and careers.

He was speaking at the opening ceremony for the Pre-University Seminar, held at the National University of Singapore's University Cultural Centre.

Raising the example of Singapore's founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, the minister urged pre-university students to consider the impact their lives can have on others.

"Because at the end of the day, a life worth living is a life lived not just for yourself, but a life lived also for the people around you," he said.

He also attempted to answer students' questions during a dialogue, including issues such as foreign competition in the workforce, the flaws of the current meritocratic system, and social work.

The Pre-University Seminar has been held yearly since it started in 1970.

In this year's seminar, 550 students from 30 schools will participate in a series of island-wide activities centred around the SG50 initiative to mark Singapore's 50th anniversary over the next few days.

The activities aim to celebrate Singapore's past, present and future, and include interacting with everyday citizens, a panel discussion, information booths, and an exhibition.

The seminar will end with a closing ceremony officiated by Education Minister Heng Swee Keat this Friday.

School, career worries among students’ concerns
By Siau Ming En, TODAY, 2 Jun 2015

Anxiety over their future — be it in school or at the workplace — was among the concerns raised by students during a question-and-answer session with Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong at the annual pre-university seminar today (June 2).

More than 20 questions were raised during the hour-long session, which was attended by around 550 students from 30 pre-university institutions — polytechnics, junior colleges and the Millennia Institute.

One student noted it is difficult to gain admission into local universities, with competition for places seemingly coming from foreign students, and sought clarity on this issue.

In response, Mr Wong clarified that local and foreign students are on different admission tracks.

“All the universities have a separate track to take in international students because they want to add diversity into their student population. They think it’s a good idea to allow their own students international exposure and they want that to add vibrancy into their campuses,” he said.

Foreign students take up 10 to 20 per cent of the cohort at universities in the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States, and Singapore has also kept the proportion to about 15 per cent of the overall student population in each campus, he noted. 

He also assured students that the number of university places have been increasing with the establishment of additional autonomous universities here, and local students can get a place if they meet these universities’ benchmarks.

Asked about the competition posed by foreign manpower for jobs, Mr Wong, acknowledging the concerns, noted that employers are keen on hiring Singaporean talent, but they also want to be able to hire talent from around the world.

“If we decide to close our doors and say foreigners cannot work here, the bank will have a very simple response and say, ‘Well then, I can’t operate in Singapore and I should operate in Hong Kong instead’ or ‘I should operate in London instead’, and then all of the Singaporean jobs will be lost. This is the tension, the dilemma we will always face,” he said.

The issue of encouraging youths to care more about the community was also raised, with one student asking how young people could be motivated to pursue jobs in sectors such as social services and sacrifice better pay elsewhere.

In response, Mr Wong said: “What we should try to do is to make sure that if you want to take the path in the social service job, then the remuneration is a fair one, a decent one and one that will allow you or whoever it is to have a good living.”

When a student observed that Singaporeans’ proficiency in their mother tongues appeared to be declining despite the bilingualism policy, Mr Wong said it was not only an issue of what is taught in schools, but also which languages are used at home.

Bilingualism remains important, he said, adding that efforts to develop a strong foundation in mother tongue languages will put one in “good stead in the future”. He noted that the decline in the use of dialects is not unique to Singapore; China is facing the same issue among its youths.

The pre-university seminar ends on Friday. This year’s programme will see students reflect on Singapore’s achievements over the past 50 years by interacting with Singaporeans from all walks of life and participating in panel discussions on their findings, among other things.

At the Pre-University Seminar closing ceremony today, students from 30 pre-university institutions gathered to reflect...
Posted by Ministry of Education, Singapore on Friday, June 5, 2015

Pre-U event closes with games, food and displays
Over 4 days, students explored topics on S'pore's past, present and future
By Tee Zhuo, The Straits Times, 6 Jun 2015

STUDENTS spared no effort to make this year's Pre-University Seminar closing ceremony a lively affair, with games, local food and interactive displays.

Among the highlights was a booth called #CHINGCHONG- LINGLONG, which centred on the preservation of Chinese cultural values and traditions. One student donned a red-and-gold wayang costume for a performance of the fast-disappearing Chinese opera.

It was one of 50 booths at yesterday's ceremony at the National University of Singapore.

This year's seminar celebrated the Republic's 50th anniversary of independence and was organised jointly by St Andrew's Junior College (SAJC) and the Ministry of Education. Some 550 students from 30 schools participated in activities around the island about Singapore's past, present and future, including panel discussions and an exhibition.

The wayang team's 11 students, who were from various polytechnics and junior colleges, spent several days learning about Chinese opera. They interviewed Mr Nick Shen, who gave up his television career to learn the art form, and Mrs Joanna Wong, who was awarded the Cultural Medallion in 1981.

Delwyn Cheng, 17, a second- year student from SAJC, said: "I learnt that while the practice of certain traditions may be challenging in the modern day, we can at least try to preserve them so that they can be passed down through the generations and are not erased from memory."

Teams explored topics such as Singapore's foreign relations, the economy, environment and connecting with Singaporeans living overseas.

Education Minister Heng Swee Keat, who attended the closing ceremony of the four-day event, said in his speech: "The question is how we can harness the diverse strengths, ideas and energy of all our people, and create this sense of togetherness, mission and purpose."

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