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27th College Day

22 April, 2016 was the day of our 27th College Day - a day that gathered past and present students in a celebration of academic achievements and moral excellence. The theme of this year's College Day is 'Success to Significance' - how our graduands, flush with current academic successes, will journey on to make a significant impact to society in their personal and professional lives.

Congratulations to all our award recipients!


(Photo: (L-R) Mr Mano, our Principal, Laura Chia, Student of the Year, Mr Viswa Sadasivan, our Guest of Honour)

Speech at 27th College Day at Serangoon JC on 22 April 2017 by S. Manogaran, Principal, Serangoon Junior College


A very good evening to our Guest-of-Honour, Mr Viswa Sadasivan, CEO of Strategic  Moves and Former Nominated Member of Parliament, Mr Seow Seng Chee, Chairman, College Advisory Committee, Mr Abdul Mannan, Cluster Superintendent, Mr Lee Deming, President, SRJC Alumni Association, Mr Tan Teck Hock, Principal, Singapore Sports School, Mrs Wong Mei Heng, Principal, Eunoia JC, Members of our College Advisory Committee and the SRJC Alumni, School Leaders, Parents, Award recipients, my SRJC Colleagues and last but not in any way least, our JC2 students who are here to honour and be inspired by their seniors.

Welcome to SRJC’s 27th College Day!

Today we will be honouring a total of 112 award winners - students who have done well academically, displayed good character, did well in their CCAs and also excelled in their respective Mother Tongue Languages.  It’s a proud moment for all of them, their parents and their teachers.  

Much has been said about how grades are not important for success in life.  Watching the students jump for joy when they received their A level results in March, as you watched in the opening video, tells a different story. That’s their moment. Let’s not take it away from them. We want to acknowledge the hard work, discipline, commitment and sacrifice our students made.

 So to our award winners – Congratulations and well done!

However, if you had listened to our emcee Shahira, earlier, she said that we are here to commemorate “both our students’ short term academic successes and the significant impact they will go on to make in society”.

That takes me to the theme for our College Day.

Success to Significance

Success to Significance has been adopted as the theme for the college - to signal a shift in the focus of our vision and plans for the college. The college will continue to emphasise academic excellence while paying greater attention to leadership and values development amongst our youth. We want our young adults to think beyond academic success. We want to strengthen the skills and processes in our students that will anchor their hearts and minds towards impacting and enriching the community in the college and Singapore. 

To achieve our refreshed vision of Leaders and Learners driven by Values and Imagination, the college will invest more time and resources to leadership development programmes. We will also develop our students to take greater ownership of their learning. This will free up more time and space for our teachers to develop some of the 21st century skills, so critical in the dynamic world we live in.

Building Upon a Strong Foundation - Acknowledgement of Stakeholders and Past Leaders

The college could not have succeeded without the strong support of the College Advisory Committee, the Serangoon JC Alumni Association, Parents, Teachers and Students. We appreciate their dedication and commitment towards of the college’s vision and aspirations.

SRJC was not built overnight. We are celebrating our 27th College Day. 5 Principals have preceded me and all of them played a significant part in our college’s growth, building upon the strengths of successive generations of students and teachers. So I am grateful for the presence of Mr Tan Teck Hock and Mrs Wong Mei Heng here today. I believe our past leaders’ vision and clear sense of purpose helped our teachers and students believe in themselves, stir their imagination and pursue their goals with strong determination.

A new feature of today’s College Day is the presence of the secondary school teachers of our award winners. We asked our award winners to nominate teachers who have made a significant impact in their lives from the secondary or primary schools. I am glad that despite their busy schedules, 3 teachers from the secondary schools are here with us. They are Ms Chen Wenwen, from Si Ling Secondary; Ms Veronica Tan, from Chung Cheng High (Main); Mdm Kwa Leng Leng, from Ang Mo Kio Secondary. I am sure there are many other teachers our students are grateful for but I understand they couldn’t attend today because of prior commitments.

You know there is a Chinese saying, Yin Shui Si Yuan: when you drink water, remember the source.

Gaining Momentum, Scaling New Heights - The SRJC Narrative and new Social Imaginary

The SRJC narrative continues to inspire our teachers, students and key stakeholders.

The college has made commendable, if not remarkable, progress over the last few years. Close to 90% of our students are eligible for university admissions and 77% of the 2014 cohort were admitted into the publicly-funded universities in Singapore.  This is a sound testament of the leadership provided by the school management team and the rigour of the instructional programme. Our teachers, without doubt, play an active role in delivering a holistic and balanced education, enabling our students to broaden and strengthen their career aspirations.

I am happy to share that the college has just received the Project Work Results for our JC2 students. Firstly all of them passed, with 99.3 percent of our students obtaining Grades A and B. In terms of distinctions, its encouraging to note our steady climb.  In 2013, the percentage of distinctions was 34.5%,  in 2014, it was 53.8%  and in 2015, it is  58.1%. Well done JC2s!  The results have inspired our students to aim high and see far.  My deep appreciation to the Project Work Department teachers and all other teachers who served as coaches to the students as they prepared for their presentations last year. Believe me, it was hard earned.

In CCA, our students have learnt to deepen their skills, exercise leadership and experience success in the 31 CCAs we offer in the college – ranging in sports, aesthetics and clubs and societies.

CCA Achievements for 2016

1.    Rockclimbing : National Schs Bouldering competition – ‘A’ Boys 1st, ‘A’ Girls 2nd

2.         Rockclimbing : National Schs Speed Climbing competition – ‘A’ Boys 1st

3.         Canoeing : National Schs Canoeing Championship – ‘A’ Boys 4th

4.         Canoeing : National Schs Canoeing Championship – ‘A’ Girls 4th

5.         Debates : ITE Debate Championships organised by Debates Association of Singapore : Shahira Banu, our Emcee, is one of the top 20 speakers in the  Gold Division even though she belongs to the Silver Division.

6.         In 2015, Taekwondo clinched the National Inter-JC Poomsae Championship - Overall Champions for Boys and Girls teams.  Subsequently, both teams were awarded National School Colours.

7.         Touch Football emerged Champions at the Touch Football Singapore JC League.

SRJC has been Champions since 2013. Our girls are in the finals again this year and they will play at 10.40 am tomorrow.

8.         For Ultimate Frisbee, at the Inter-JC Ultimate Tournament we emerged Champions for the first time.

9.         S*Star, our CCA dedicated to innovation in Science was awarded the School Challenge Trophy by the Science Centre  for best performing school again in 2015.

10.       Dance, Guzheng and Chorale were awarded the Certificate of Distinction for the Singapore Youth Festival Arts Presentation.

I am sharing these achievements as our college receives students from more than 100 secondary schools each year. Many of these students prefer to take on a new CCA in the JC from what they are used to in the secondary school. So it’s a tribute to our teachers, students and the coaches who are able to turn champions and winners out of these students who come to us raw in talent. But these students live up to our college anthem for they believe we can “Lead them to Glory” and despite the “Challenges Ahead”, they “turn them all to Gold”.

Later at 7.30 pm our students from the Aesthetics CCA,  215 of them – performers and backstage crew -  will be putting on the Performance Arts Special – Incandescence -  the first time the Symphonic Band, Guzheng, Guitar Ensemble, Chorale and Dance – are coming together in a spirit of collaboration and synergy. I have watched parts of the programme at rehearsals and  I must say the students are very impressive. Good enough to perform at the Esplanade or Victoria Concert Hall one day.

Pushing Boundaries - Purpose, Identity, Relationships and Future

Finally I would like to end my college address by returning to the theme of 'Success to Significance'. While achieving positive student outcomes will continue to underpin the college efforts, it is the impact these outcomes have on the people in the community that will define our future.

Indeed, as our students complete their formal education in our system what becomes more urgent and not always clearer for our youth are

-       Their purpose in life

-       Their identity as an individual and as a citizen of this country

-       The  relationships they need to forge

-       What the future holds for them

That’s why the college has strengthened its Character and Citizenship Education programme with a strong focus on Education and Career Guidance. Students are challenged and guided to know themselves better, identify their strengths and keep their options open for several careers.

Our Career symposium this year witnessed more than 40 professionals from  18 Sectors  sharing their experiences and career opportunities  to our JC2 cohort.

Supporting the importance of career guidance and continuous learning, Our Acting Minister for Higher Education, Mr Ong Ye Kung, shared just 2 days ago that “paper qualifications would still serve an important purpose. However, they needed to be more diverse and varied, and reflected not just academic qualifications but also qualifications for skills and other aptitudes. He  challenged us to create a future where our people collectively, in whatever field, would focus, continuously practice and upgrade, share knowledge and learn from fellow practitioners. This would help Singapore stand out in terms of quality and competitiveness”

The impact of the ECG programme can be seen in the reflection of this student who shared with our career guidance counsellor:

“I want to thank you for your time and energy helping me to find myself again and to look for a new career path”.

“Thank you for your advice - the one where I am to plan options for every possible event after I receive my A Level results. I now know what to do in the event that I do well in A's or so-so in A's or fail in A’s and I am ready to face whatever happens. I am now super prepared for March!”

“Thank you also because I now found a new career path! I went for talks to find out about certain career paths and scoured the internet as well. In the end, I chose nursing because I realise I want to be one of those in the healthcare frontlines and I want to help the community. I know that the job of a nurse and of a doctor is extremely different, but I am still set on being a nurse. I plan to be an advanced practitioner nurse specialising in paediatrics.

I was not sure what an Advanced Nurse Practitioner is. I checked the MOH website and found out that you will need a Masters Degree to be an ANP plus more than 1000 hours of clinical practice.

In short we want more of our students to aim high and set appropriate career goals for themselves. We want them to be leaders in their respective industries or professions; continue to learn and make a significant impact in the community they live in.

I hope SRJC has nurtured our students well and we will continue to help our students who came to us young teens go on as morally upright youth, ready to face the challenges the world will throw at them. 

Finally, I want to thank the Chairman of today’s College Day Organising Committee, Ms Sabrina Teo  and her team and the Advisor to the Committee, Mrs Shirley Foo for successfully executing today’s memorable event.

Thank you.


Let me now say a few words about our Guest of Honour before I invite him on stage to address us. When I invited Mr Viswa to our College Day in January, he told me he would be away on a business trip then but agreed to reschedule his  programme so that he could join us.  He just returned last night.

Viswa Sadasivan is regarded as one of Singapore’s influential thinkers.  With over 30 years of media experience – as practitioner and policy maker - Viswa is best known to Singapore society as the face of the (then) Singapore Broadcasting Corporation’s such as Talking Point, Feedback and Today in Parliament.  He has interviewed Asia’s top business and political leaders, including Singapore’s first Prime Minister, the late Lee Kuan Yew, the first Prime Minister of Malaysia, the late Tungku Abdul Rahman and Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Malaysia’s longest serving premier

A former Nominated Member of Parliament, Viswa has a strong appreciation for public policy and ground sentiment.

Viswa is also the founder and Editor-in-Chief of IQ [Inconvenient Questions], a rising socio-political site that seeks to be the conduit for honest engagement between stakeholders and the government.

Trained as an elite Guardsman, Viswa holds the rank of Colonel and in his National Service capacity, serves as Deputy Director, Joint Operations, Singapore Armed Forces (SAF). He also serves as a Vice-President in the Executive Committee in SINDA, an organisation he has volunteered and served in for more than 20 years.

After graduating from the National University of Singapore with a Bachelor of Arts and Social Sciences (Political Science), Viswa proceeded to undertake a Master in Public Administration (MPA) at the Kennedy School of Government and Administration, Harvard University. Viswa topped his class in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution, and was awarded top honours in the same field upon graduation in 1992.

While preparing my speech, I chanced upon this book in our library, “The Journey of Leadership”, published in 2006[1]. I opened it and the first chapter was titled, “An Entrepreneur with a difference”, by Viswa Sadasivan. I like what Viswa said at the end of that chapter

It’s as if Viswa was speaking to our award winners and our JC2 cohort here, and his message is also very well aligned to our theme of 'Success to Significance'.

“One of the biggest challenges of success is managing it. This often boils down to managing one’s ego. And the best way to check this is to stay connected with people from all walks of life. That’s when you realise that often success is predicated upon being in the right place at the right time, and because there were people to help you at key points. It makes you realise how fortunate you have been. The right exposure in life would be to give you  the humility to move from self-praise to gratitude for the opportunity. This is essentially the seed for further and greater success.”

Ladies and gentlemen, I have the pleasure now to invite Mr Viswa to address us.

[1] Alicia Teo, The Journey of Leadership, Elisher Communications, Singapore, 2006.