Published: 23 February 2023
Ms Shie Yong Lee, Commissioner of Prisons,
Mr Matthew Wee Yik Keong, CEO, Yellow Ribbon Singapore,
Mr Chong Leong Fatt, Deputy Principal of ITE College Central,
Graduates of the NITEC in Business Services,
Ladies and Gentlemen.
1. A very good morning to all of you.
2. This is a happy morning, because we are seeing positive developments in the lives of our inmates. I am heartened to see so many guests and partners coming together, to celebrate the graduation of students from the NITEC in Business Services programme.
Celebrate Achievement of the Inmate Graduates for Completing the NITEC Programme
3. Let me start by congratulating the graduates. You have worked hard, persevered and should be proud of yourself.
4. I would like to share the stories of two graduates, and I will refer to them as ‘Adil’ and ‘Lily’. Knowing what they have gone through and achieved, I am very inspired. I hope that such stories will inspire us in our lives and to better ourselves.
5. Adil is serving his first incarceration for drug-related offences. He signed up for the NITEC in Business Services programme to develop himself academically. When he first entered prison, he struggled to adapt to the regime and environment. Participating in the NITEC programme helped him to stay focused and gave him a goal to work towards.
6. Adil took his studies seriously, studying every evening. As he is shy by nature, he also struggled with learning how to communicate and interact with his peers. With the encouragement of his teachers and other inmates, he overcame the challenges. Adil settled into the course routine, managed the demands of the programme and improved his communication skills too.
7. Adil attributes his achievements to his supportive family who visited him regularly. Their support motivated him to change and to do well. Adil is hopeful for the future and wishes to pursue a diploma subsequently. Let us give him a round of applause to congratulate him.
8. Now, let me share the story of “Lily”. Lily is also serving her first incarceration. In prison for cheating-related offences, ‘Lily’ recognises her lack of self-control. Determined to use her time in prisons wisely to acquire new skills, ‘Lily’ enrolled in the NITEC in Business Services programme. She worked hard to meet the demands of the course, meeting deadlines of her assignments and studying diligently for her examinations.
9. As Lily’s family is residing overseas, they were not able to visit her regularly. Thankfully, ‘Lily’ still had the support of her fiancé in Singapore. With her strong willpower and determination to achieve her goals, ‘Lily’ graduated from the NITEC programme too. I am sure her family and fiancé are proud of her. Please give her a big round of applause.
Employment and Community Support Are Important in Helping to Reduce Recidivism
10. Studies have shown that gainful employment helps to reduce re-offending. Skills training and educational opportunities such as the NITEC in Business Services play an important part in improving the employment prospects of offenders. While the Singapore Prison Service (SPS) and Yellow Ribbon Singapore (YRSG) work to increase these opportunities for offenders, support from the community partners is key.
11. My colleagues from SPS and YRSG work very hard, because we care for our offenders, ex-offenders and their families. But I must admit it is not easy. It is a journey. We have done relatively well, compared to other countries. My overseas counterparts shared with me that we have done a lot for our offenders, ex-offenders and their families. We will continue to do so, because we want the best for them.
Show Appreciation to ITE for Playing an Important Role in Uplifting the Inmates, Through Education and Training
12. At this juncture, I would like to acknowledge and thank ITE for stepping forward, to provide education and training opportunities in prison. The NITEC in Business Services has proven to be popular amongst our inmates, with an increase in cohort size from 29 in 2021, to 51 in 2022. A very good increase.
13. The ITE teachers have also played a big part in the graduates’ success. Having started during the pandemic, the teachers adapted nimbly and quickly. They ensured the students’ learning was not compromised while adhering to the various safe management measures that had to be put in place. The NITEC in Business Services qualification has helped our inmates to secure employment upon their release. I would like to sincerely thank all our teachers and lecturers for your hard work in providing skills and knowledge to our inmates. So, join me in thanking all our teachers.
14. Other than the NITEC in Business Services, ITE is also collaborating with SPS and YRSG to provide other short courses. In 2022, more than 300 inmates have benefited from the various courses.
15. In fact, ITE, SPS and YRSG are already exploring new and exciting areas to upskill the inmates, such as in wedding and event planning and after life services. It is heartening to see such collaborations as they expand the employment opportunities available to offenders.
16. Community support is integral for the successful reintegration of ex-offenders. Organisations like ITE are key partners in providing opportunities for offenders, helping them to stay on the right track, and becoming productive, contributing citizens. Friends and families play an important role too, in keeping them on the right track and providing support in their times of need.
17. I sincerely want to thank the families and friends who are here today, for believing in and supporting the graduates. I hope that you will not give up on them. We certainly will not give up on them, because we want them to have a good start and a new life. Thank you to all of you for making a big difference in their rehabilitation and reintegration journey.
18. Again, I would also like to thank ITE and the teachers for your unwavering dedication and making a difference in the graduates’ lives.
19. Today is a happy occasion, a happy day for all of you. Once again, to all the graduates, I congratulate you on your success. This is just a beginning of the many things you can achieve down the road, when you put your hearts into it. Congratulations, and thank you for having me here this morning.
20. Thank you.