Good afternoon. What a pleasure it was to witness the presentation of the J M Fraser awards and to personally present the J M Fraser Award for Excellence. My congratulations to all the recipients.
The pursuit of excellence, especially for the benefit of our children and youths, should be something we strive for. The BB has always been nurturing the young boys of our nation, with programmes that engage the boys physically and mentally so as to inculcate the right set of values and beliefs. A BB boy can spend anywhere between 4 to 10 years of their lives with the movement and, hence, opportunities abound for the Boys’ Brigade to help these young people grow up into men of character and integrity. It is, thus, crucial to run excellent Boys’ Brigade Companies to ensure that the life transformation process continues to succeed. Even after 84 years, the BB membership is still going strong, with more than 7000 members in 116 BB Companies across the country. It is evident that you really are, as your vision states, a “Youth Organisation of choice”.
There are many examples of fine young men that have benefited from the BB programme. One such young man is Peter Chong who spent most of his youth in the BB. Peter is presently an Engineering student at the Singapore Polytechnic and a BB Officer. Having been in the BB since he was in primary school, he credited his time and the opportunities in the BB for helping him become a servant leader. For three consecutive years, Peter volunteered in the BB’s Share-a-Gift project, offering his help and assistance to the operations of the project while leading the other boys. For his commitment and leadership, Peter achieved the BB’s pinnacle achievement, the President’s Award, last year.
Peter has this to say about the BB: “The BB has taught me many things, but the concept of “servant leadership” is the culmination of it all; through the BB, I learnt to serve out of the desire to serve and not for recognition, and this will earn one more respect than anything else.” It is encouraging to see young people like Peter reach their potential and at the same time, become an inspiration and role model for their juniors who often seek someone to emulate. The Boys’ Brigade, like all uniformed groups, is indeed a vital partner in helping our schools develop our youths holistically.
I am also heartened by the BB’s efforts to engage the parents of the boys. For instance, it is interesting to see that the 33J Singapore Company of Fairfield Methodist School (Primary) involved parents through their programme called the Hero Challenge. The Challenge requires the boys of 33J to complete character-building tasks to attain a Hero Badge. Their parents give them encouragement to complete the various tasks. These would include helping out with household chores, planning a project together with the family, or helping the needy in the community. I understand the idea of “servant leadership” is imbued in them through the Hero Challenge, and this, in turn, motivates students to take responsibility for their learning. So, well done 33J Singapore Company for winning both the Niche Award for Character Development and the Best Juniors Company award.
Another BB Company that makes effort to connect with parents is the 39th Singapore Company from Swiss Cottage Secondary School. They have organised father-son activities such as boating, archery and hikes to help fathers understand what their sons go through in the BB. Being involved has allowed fathers to become closer to their sons, as well as allow the fathers to network with each other. Such father-son bonding activities have even led to fathers’ volunteering to help out in other BB programmes. Mr Toong Chuen Piew, whose three sons were in the 39th Singapore Company, shared that through his participation in his sons’ activities in the BB, he grew closer to his sons. I am sure Mr Toong will agree with me that forging such rapport with his children is priceless. Having parents that support their children in schools both academically and in other areas of development is something the Ministry of Education desires as we recognise that supportive parents help to make schools more effective in their work.
Let me conclude by thanking The Boys’ Brigade for a stellar job in its role of nurturing our youths in Singapore for the last 84 years. I also want to thank Principals and teachers for supporting the BB and playing a critical role in the success of uniformed groups in our schools.