Written by Dennis Tan
SUSS had the privilege of hosting the first SUSS Ministerial Forum on 4 September 2019 with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong gracing the occasion, where he shared his insights on the landscape of education in Singapore and the way forward, touching on the impact and challenges of education faced by all Singaporeans.
The forum began with SUSS president, Professor Cheong Hee Kiat, relating SUSS’ beginnings from the early days of UniSIM. Renamed SUSS in 2017, we became Singapore’s 6th Autonomous University, housing the 3rd law school. Prof Cheong emphasised the need to ingrain a strong and positive social perspective in all our disciplines and inspire in our students, faculty and staff to be people-centric, and have a passion to serve society and to do good, because regardless of which programme our students and faculty are in, the common thread is people and how their lives can be improved and enjoyed through lifelong learning.
In PM Lee’s speech, he mentioned alumni members Alfred Toh and Natalie Sim from the Class of 2012 who were at the forum. The couple took a break in the midst of their studies to start a family and are now making good progress in life. PM Lee said theirs is not a unique case and that continuing education can fit into our career and family life as long as there is a will to succeed.
PM Lee also reiterated a point from his National Day Rally message that no one will be denied an education in Singapore for a lack of money. Indeed, the good news is that the government is working to lower tertiary education fees and enhancing bursaries for lower and middle income full-time university students!
With strong support from the government, we should take full advantage of the opportunities to upgrade and uplift ourselves and society through education and heed PM’s call to prepare ourselves for the future ahead.
The open dialogue presented gems of wisdom and insights on the role and relevance of a university degree, the future of work and employment and the future of Singapore. Questions raised by the forum participants covered real life bread-and -butter issues encountered in their pursuit of excellence, in terms of qualification, skill and advancement in career, starting a family and balancing their family lives. These topics do not only matter to every student and alumni, but the nation as a whole.
As the forum came to an end, I realised that this event was also a form of real-life education for me through the thought-provoking questions and answers that were shared, and I hope that this spirit of lifelong learning will stay with us through every experience we encounter.
For more information about the SUSS Ministerial Forum 2019 and to watch video clips of the dialogue, click here