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What Does It Mean To Be a University for Lifelong Learning?

A/P Teng Su Ching, Director of the Centre for Continuing & Professional Education, shared about the significance of lifelong learning. Her insights can be found in chapter 23 of the anthology The Heart of Learning, an essay titled ‘What Does It Mean To Be a University for Lifelong Learning?’. This book was produced in 2017 by the university to commemorate its transition to an autonomous university.

Written by Daniel Koh

The Singapore Bicentennial marks 200 years of Sir Stamford Raffles’ arrival in Singapore. Since the year 1819, Singapore has transited from a British outpost to a contemporary, clean and affordable metropolis. Today, Singapore is undeniably a strong, vocal and concinnous city-state, bringing all races and classes of people together in a place that Singaporeans call Home.

While Singaporeans celebrate 200 years of rich history and heritage, it is important to remember that the path to our present state wasn’t paved with glistening gold and splendour. It was built on many sacrifices and love; it was also built on ambition, learning and intelligence.

Learning is never a walk in the park for many people in Singapore. And one of the key strengths of Singaporeans is recognising this principal truth of never ceasing to learn from our past, and adapting to the norms and nuances of the current political and economic climate in the neighbouring region and beyond. Lifelong learning is essential for economic survival.

“In a knowledge-based and technology-enabled society, a good portion of what is learnt in formal education can quickly become obsolete as the needs of the economy change. Lifelong learning, as the term suggests, is a viable response to the rapid attrition of knowledge…It points to the ability to continuously learn and apply the learning effectively as essential for economic survival.” (The Heart of Learning, SUSS, page 4)

SUSS is positioned to educate and train students to learn and adapt simultaneously in this complex and oftentimes unforgiving environment. Mr. Sng Hock Lin is definitely a role model to look up to. Hock Lin believes that learning is everywhere. He shared with us that much of what he learnt in SUSS was applied to training his soldiers during his stint as the Commander with the Division Support Command (DISCOM) in the Singapore Armed Forces from 2015 to 2019.

“I had the opportunity to apply what I had learnt, by using a more holistic approach to train soldiers. I believe more emphasis is needed on the [sic] personal cultivation too.” — Mr. Sng Hock Lin, alumnus from the Class of 2016 Master of Gerontology programme, and current student pursuing his PhD in Gerontology.

However, while the need to learn in a formal institution is crucial for personal development, it is also equally important for learners to pick up lifelong learning in an informal setting.

As A/P Teng Su Ching, Director of the Centre for Continuing & Professional Education, stated in one of her articles “What Does It Mean To Be a University for Lifelong Learning?”:

“What is possibly lacking is the formal recognition of informal learning, to motivate individual learners and allow them uninhibited access to further development in both formal and informal settings.” (A/P Teng Su Ching, The Heart of Learning, SUSS, page 258)

Rome wasn’t built in a day, as the saying goes. And everyone plays a part in building Singapore by being active lifelong learners. To understand what lifelong learning is all about, I strongly encourage you to download and read this noteworthy book The Heart of Learning.