Minister for National Development Mah Bow Tan, an old boy of SJI, presented scholarships to 69 students to study at SJI and SJI International on Saturday Aug 18. This is an excerpt of his speech. 

BEING MY ALMA MATER, SJI always has a special place in my heart. Till today, I still tell my friends with pride that I am a Josephian. SJI is where I spent my formation years, where dedicated teachers touched me and inspired me to learn and develop myself to the fullest; and where my friends and I developed deep friendships by working and helping each other.

I share and support the mission of the De La Salle Brothers, who founded SJI 155 years ago and are still overseeing SJI, SJI International and other Lasallian schools in Singapore today. The Brothers are firm believers of holistic education that is underpinned by faith, values and principles.

In this ever more competitive world, it is easy to think that success in life is solely measured by material success. Hence it is not a surprise that quite a few crooks are among some of the smartest people around us. I feel that the definition of success should be broader. In this regard, the Brothers' goal of developing the young under their charge into "persons of integrity and persons for others" is apt.

Specifically, success in life should be a virtuous life, underpinned by a solid core of values and morals, lived with integrity, helping our fellow men, nurturing our families, and contributing to society as useful citizens. And as it is during our formative years that values are imbibed and nurtured, it is important for schools to cultivate its students into well balanced adults with the right perspectives and values.

SJI prepares its students beyond just excelling in exams. It teaches its students to learn how to learn and how to live. While academic excellence is important, one should not just relentlessly pursue excellence in studies to

the exclusion of everything else.

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One should pursue excellence because of passion for the subject and an abiding desire to be the best that one can be. Beyond just excellent grades, students should develop into leaders and team players - in this close- nit world of ours, there are very few endeavours that require only solo effort. Both SJI and SJI International are well placed to prepare students for the real world as they also offer a diverse environment, one with a healthy mix of students of very high and average abilities, both local and foreign.

It is a rich and nurturing environment for our young to learn to work with people with different backgrounds, perspectives, interests, passions, cultures, beliefs and values. A value-centric education that prepares our young people for life is even more important in today's world of rapid change and social upheaval. Our young people will need the self-confidence and a strong moral compass to journey through the rough seas of our globalizing world.

Hence I was very pleased to read in SJI's recently released letter to the Josephian community that it will remain steadfast to its founding mission even as it responds to the challenges of the changing educational landscape in Singapore.

For the scholarship recipients, I hope you will make full use of the opportunity offered by SJI to develop yourself to the fullest. My own life was changed because of my education in SJI and the opportunity afforded by the State scholarship I won to attend university in Australia.

You can return their (the donors') generosity and kindness by doing your best, both in and outside the classroom, and do your parents and the school proud. Seize the opportunity to learn and develop, and make the best of your talents, so that one day, you too can make a difference to society.

I want to take this opportunity to thank all the wonderful teachers of SJI and SJI International, both past and present. It is their dedication and commitment that has made the learning environment so caring and nurturing, and make SJI and SJI International, a different kind of school for our young.

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