A passion for acquiring new knowledge
17 Jul 2014
“Every child is different. In terms of learning style, aptitude or inclination, no two are the same - even if they are from the same family. We should not assume that one person’s journey to success is the same path that all must take. This means that society, and all of us, must not expect that the routes others travel by must be the one we take to get to our destination.”
Speaking at the Institute of Education (ITE) Graduation Ceremony 2014, Education Minister Heng Swee Keat highlighted that there were multiple paths to success and that we must each find our own path. He told the graduands that although graduation signified the end of their ITE education, it was just the start to the next phase of their lifelong learning journey and that they must develop the flexibility to adapt, learn new skills, and explore career possibilities to stay relevant.
Patiently waiting for their turn to go on stage, 52-year-old Ms Liaw Lay Kian and 55-year-old Mr Lim Hock Tee stood out from the many graduands. What made them decide to go back to studying?
Ms Liaw Lay Kian is a Nitec in Nursing graduate who enrolled in ITE at the age of 50! Ms Liaw had been taking care of her bed-bound father-in-law for 16 years and her ailing husband for 10 months before he passed away. Having been through a tough journey as a caregiver, Ms Liaw understood fully what patients and their families struggle with. With a passion for palliative care nursing, Ms Liaw started to volunteer at the Dover Park Hospice. She shared that without medical qualifications, she was unable to do more for her patients besides taking care of their daily needs such as feeding them. Eventually, Ms Liaw made an important decision in her life - to go back to school. She applied for her Nitec in Nursing, even though she was concerned that she would be rejected due to her age. She was surprised when ITE responded to her within three hours. Imagine her delight when ITE informed her that she was accepted!
The last time Ms Liaw took a major examination was back in 1978. To overcome the difficulties in studying and catching up with her peers in class, Ms Liaw said that she would often go online to search for resources which could help her understand the subjects taught in class better and also to expand her knowledge. With her perseverance, Ms Liaw graduated with an almost perfect Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.94 and was also awarded the Tay Eng Soon Gold Award!
Mr Lim Hock Tee, a Higher Nitec in Technology – Electrical Engineering graduate and recipient of the Singapore Labour Foundation Gold Medal, shared that the reason why he went back to studying was that he wanted to lead by example and be a role model for his children to continue learning. When his son completed his Nitec course, he wanted to serve his National Service (NS) first before deciding whether to join the workforce or continue in his studies. Upon seeing his son’s dilemma, Mr Lim decided to upgrade himself and took up a part-time Higher Nitec course. Mr Lim found it tough to juggle his work and part-time studies, but with the aid of mobile technology, Mr Lim and his classmates set up a “Whatsapp” group chat and helped each other out with problems they encountered in class.
Having gone through this experience, Mr Lim felt that it was good for one to gain some work experience first and as one goes along in life, to find their passion and go back to school to acquire more knowledge in the area that he/she is interested in. He said: “Once you are passionate in something, you will naturally be curious to learn more about it. That’s when you are ready to study”. Mr Lim also shared that if his son was keen to join the workforce after his NS instead of furthering his studies, he would support his son’s decision.
19-year-old Ms Khairunnisa Bte Abdul Gani has had a strong passion for cooking since she was a child, which led her to decide to take up a Nitec in Asian Culinary Arts at ITE College West. Despite being dyslexic, her determination to succeed in life helped her to excel in school. She received the Far East Organisation Scholarship and the Tay Eng Soon Gold Medal for her excellent academic results. Ms Khairunnisa was also the Deputy Secretary of the Student Council and organised several events such as the Malay Heritage Charity Event. She also participated in a Youth Expedition Project to Vietnam where she and an international team of students from Singapore (ITE), Australia and Canada coordinated the re-building of three classrooms from scratch.
Ms Khairunnisa shared that her family was her greatest pillar of support and that she was happy that her achievements had inspired her younger sister, who is currently in Secondary Five, to study hard and succeed in life. Looking ahead, Ms Khairunnisa hopes to have her own café some day and look forward to pursuing a hospitality-related diploma course next.
Indeed, education is a life-long learning journey and as long as you put your heart to it, there will always be ways to overcome the obstacles. We wish all our ITE graduands a fruitful journey!