I just talked about Tan Sri Dr Lee Kong Chian. He has given a lot to the school, together with Mr Tan Kah Kee of course. With them watching over us, the Board is also working very hard to bring their good work forward. We want to bring the school to the next level. So, on the solid foundation that was built by the last Board, this Board has continued the good work. And I am happy to say that we have completed the swimming pool.
Within this year, we also target to complete the CCA Centre and the Library. With that, our students will have a more conducive environment and better facilities to receive their holistic education.
So is that all? Can we now start to relax? Before I answer this question, I want to share a personal experience with you.
About 20 over years ago, I went to London to work. My London colleagues there were quite relaxed, quite "chill". On Fridays, they would be talking about how to enjoy, what to do for the weekends. Right about lunch, they will be talking about that and on the weekends, they will talk about where to travel, how to "enjoy life".
At that point, I was thinking to myself: we Asians have been working so hard and yet, our standard of living and wages were not as high as the Londoners. So something must be wrong. Is it because we were not effective enough? Or because we were not efficient enough? We were working doubly hard and yet our wages and standard of living are falling behind.
With 20 over years passed, I now have my answer. They were enjoying their life, and yet, having better wages at that point in time because they have inherited a better system and resources from their ancestors.
Whereas in Singapore, we have just built our Nation for about 20 years at that point in time. Now, if you compare Singapore's standard of living and wages and the amount you can save, compared to London, you will find that Singapore is the better place.
Within that last 20 over years, we have not only catch up with the Londoners, we have surpassed them and bear in mind their exchange rate has fallen as well. 20 over years ago it was about 1-to-3, now it is about 1 to 1.6, 1.7.
Back to our HCIS, can we afford to relax? Of course we can! It is a matter of choice.
Do you want to be the Londoner, who emphasised on relax(ation) and enjoyment. And you would not progress that fast. Or you want to be the Singaporeans, who emphasise on working hard and playing hard, but you progress faster.
For Hwa Chong International School, we have built the school for 17, 18 years. We did not have the British fortune, inheriting something superior for the school. What we have to do is to work out for ourselves. So, at this point in time, we have built the school and it has come a long way, but it is not the time that we can relax.
The Board and the school leadership has been working very hard on a few fronts: for example, under the leadership of Mr Chua Kee Thiam, the IT Steering Committee is working very hard with AP Michelle and the IT team to upgrade the infrastructure, the equipment and next, the skills. So that the school can be ready for the future, and can nurture students who are ready for the future.
The investment committee under the leadership of James is also looking at how we to make use our limited funds. Together with Lission and her finance team to see how we can invest, get some returns, and in the future, we can fund a scholarship. And it is our plan to give out more scholarships. So that more people from humble families can enjoy international education.
On the strategic front, the committee under Der Shing, have even gone to explore recently, on whether we should start an elementary school. So after a lot of studies and discussions, the decision is we will focus on HCIS. We want to focus our limited resources at this point in time to bring HCIS to the next level. And with that, we have in mind, first of all, like we said, the School of the Future.
And we want to build on our Asian culture, to make sure that we can impart the right values in our students. We also want to continue to add value to all our students: if you are academically not so strong, we want to bring you up. We want to spend more time and resources to bring you up to the level that you should be. And for all the students, we do not want you to only build on your academic results, we want you to have a holistic education, where you are strong also in physical and mental strengths.
We also want to foster a very close bonding within the school, like a family. And everybody will take care of one another.
For the students, we want to be your partner for life. We do not to just partner with you during the 6 years that you're here, we want to go beyond that. To do that, we need everyone to pull together and work together, from the Board, SMC, Principal, assistant principals and senior management team to provide the leadership. The teachers, parents, students and graduates come work together and make the school better.
To do this, we will certainly need a lot of effort and the people to work even harder
I want to visit one thing: teachers' remuneration and rewards. If you recall in 2020, that was the storm of COVID, we actually asked teachers and staff to make sacrifices. Because at that point, the financial strength of the school does not look very good So we asked for some sacrifices, there were some unhappiness, but I believe you understand why. In 2021 and 2022, the school was back on its feet and we have announced several rounds of special bonus. Now, the bonus is one thing, I'm not going to talk about the money, it is the message behind that.
The message behind is that when the school needs you, we need your sacrifices, you made it. And when the school is back on its feet, the school will take care of its people and everyone. This is the spirt we want to foster in HCIS.
The HR Committee under Sim Choon Siong's leadership, is working very hard with the Principal and HR team to see how we can give better rewards, better skill set development to our teachers, so that they can share that better knowledge with our students.
I have spoken on many things, and I have spoken about many names, I am sure all these names deserve a round of applause from you. I have also not mentioned many names, because I cannot afford to do this or we will be here until 6pm. So for all the unsung heroes, all the people who work quietly behind the scenes, can we also give them a round of applause?
As you have heard, your teachers also made sacrifices, especially in 2020, you might be here, you might not be here, but they made those sacrifices that built the foundation for today, so that we can bring the school forward. Can we give the teachers, Principal and APs a round of applause?
I will sum up the few things that we want to do for the school:
we want to build on our Asian culture: we want to give the right values to our students, these values will benefit you for life.
We want to continue to add value to every student: If you are not academically strong, we will take care of you. If you are academically strong, we want to build your physical and mental strengths.
We want to be a School of the Future: we want to upgrade our infrastructure, our equipment, our staff, our people's skills so that can nuture the next generation who will be ready for the future.
We want to build the Family's strengths within HCIS: so that everyone takes care of one another, and everyone also takes care of the school, so the school can become stronger and takes care of everyone.
We want to be your partner for life.
I want to thank you everyone for all the good work that you have put in and bring the school to today. And I'm looking forward to you to work harder, do more and do better than last year.
Thank you very much.