BOD (2020-2021) Accomplishments
Under our chairman's leadership since the formation of the BOD in January 2020, the 20-member board has been proactively innovating and challenging the status quo, accomplishing many 'firsts'.
We learned from our recent past that it is critical for board members to have a common understanding on the limitations of the board’s authorities. To this end, the BOD has made sweeping changes to the SCHS Constitution delineating the boundaries of the BOD’s authorities and governance framework, including:
(1) specifying the limits of financial authority for the Chairman, the ExCo and the board;
(2) setting the board's decision threshold required for any proposed use of SCHS (including HCI and HCIS) intangible assets and that of taking on any legal action against any person;
(3) disempowerment of the board to decide on matters relating to any change in status quo on the ownership and usage of SCHS real assets (a matter which should be referred to the General Meeting);
(4) defining sponsors’ eligibility to vote for any resolution in a given year (by cut-off date of new memberships in that given year);
(5) introducing a Nomination Committee to administer an established procedure to oversee the process of every board election so as to ensure fairness and rationality in the process.
We believe these amendments will help to strengthen our internal controls and oversight as well as to manifest our accountability to sponsors.
This has been SCHS’s most significant Constitutional amendment to date.
Many of our board members had never attended an online meeting when the country went into circuit breaker mode last year. Despite the technical difficulties, we helped out one another in good spirits; an hour had passed before we are ready to hold the meeting.
I want to thank our directors, for overcoming the technical barriers in the name of the alma mater, this is certainly an exemplary demonstration of lifelong learning!
Despite having to forgo our original plans (slated to happen during the Mid-Autumn festival) due to COVID-19, we expediently moved the event online and successfully introduced all new sponsors to the current cohort.
This is also the first time such an event had taken place. We strongly believe that this first contact amongst sponsors will continue to foster further communications and camaraderie.
The BOD officially formed the HCIS School Management Committee ('SMC') in 2020. The SMC comprised of current BOD members as well as a younger group of Hwa Chong alumni. This is in line with our constant effort in renewing our leadership.
One of the key achievements of the SMC is the decision to carry out an internal audit to review the school's governance, risk management and control processes. Such internal audits will be the norm for the school hereon.
In early 2021, the HCIS former Principal indicated his intention to pursue his career overseas and in spite of the BOD's best efforts to retain him, we had to bid each other farewell in the end.
Through the 15 years of HCIS, the school has continuously cultivated its management staff and have a cadre of talents to take on the Principal position.
Along with advisory from the former principal and vice principals, we decided to promote Ms Linda Lee. She is also the school's first female principal.
As our student population increases over the years, some facilities, such as the shared swimming pool, can no longer meet our demands sufficiently.
To this end, the BOD decisively embarked on its plans to expand our school facilities including: a new swimming pool, a new 2-storey 10,000+ sqft library, a blackbox theater and various activity rooms for our students.
When completed, Hwa Chong will be one of the few schools in Singapore to have two swimming pools and two school libraries in excess of 10,000 sqft each.
Another first for us here is that the cost of building the pool, as well as other new facilities are borne by HCIS directly, without any government subsidies.
While we have ventured overseas previously, our lack of experience and resources had limited the success of these efforts.
This time round, the BOD changed our approach and collaborated with Capitaland in China to manage the SingChin Academy located in its Guangzhou Knowledge City project. Starting in 2020, this has resulted in additional economic benefits for the school.
More important than revenue, this partnership brings about opportunities which will enable our students to participate in exchange programmes between HCIS and SingChin Academy, and from there, develop a deeper appreciation and understanding for the Chinese culture. This will positively add on to the students' bilingual capabilities.
To keep abreast with modern infocomm technology, the BOD establised its IT Steering Committee to guide the school in terms of technology investment and enablement with the help of IT professionals.
We hope that in the near future, HCIS can expand its pedagogy beyond the campus, reaching students online both in and beyond Singapore.
In times of yore, school board directors would be asked to donate monies to the school every once in a while. Today SCHS operates with a steady income and even a surplus sometimes.
A donation of one million Singapore dollars was made to the school to fund the redevelopment of both the 'Kuo Chuan Centennial Art Gallery' and 'Hwa Chong Heritage Centre'
With strong endorsement and support from the BOD, the Chinese Department of HCIS organised two Chinese Culture symposiums, further strengthening our students' awareness and interest in the subject. The school will continue to host more symposiums, as well as inviting our sponsors to attend them.
Correspondingly, the BOD has commissioned a Chinese Culture subcommittee to promote and assist the school in this respect, further affirming the efforts and contributions of the Chinese Department.
We look forward to more of these events to be hosted and would like to invite our sponsors to participate in them.
Responding to feedback from our alumni, the BOD created the 'Gratitude' scholarship specifically for Hwa Chong alumni and their family. We awarded the first Gratitude scholarship in 2021. To further this effort, the BOD added three more awards to encourage even more outstanding beneficiaries. Stay tuned for updates on the HCIS website.