Last week, it had been reported that about 26,000 students from the five polytechnics and 6,500 students from the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) will graduate this year without a graduation ceremony.
In a joint statement released on 6 April, the polytechnics and ITE announced that this year’s graduation ceremonies that were scheduled to take place in May and July 2020 have been cancelled. This decision was made according to the Government’s safe distancing measures, and that the institutes will make arrangements to deliver the certificates and transcripts to their graduates.
Education Minister Ong Ye Kung mentioned that he received several remarks from final year polytechnics students, expressing their disappointment in regards to this matter. He shared his opinion on his Facebook page, explaining that it is not safe to hold a graduation ceremony.
Understanding how disappointed the graduates are, Mr Ong mentioned that they do not want to trigger a cluster of infections by carrying on with the ceremonies.
“I can fully understand. This is an important milestone for you and your parents. But unfortunately, it is currently not safe to hold ceremonies. We don’t want to trigger a cluster of infections. Then a happy occasion will become a tragedy,” writer Mr Ong.
He then went on to describe his experiences of missing the chances of attending his own graduation ceremonies. Mr Ong acknowledged that he was lucky to receive overseas scholarships for his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, however, he was summoned to return to Singapore to serve his bond and later welcome his first child.
“I never attended any of my graduation ceremonies. I was lucky to receive overseas scholarships for my Bachelor’s and later my Master’s degrees. When I finished my undergraduate studies, I was immediately summoned to return to Singapore to serve my bond. Years later, when I finished my Master’s, I rushed back because our first baby was going to pop anytime. So again I missed my graduation.”
Despite not having the opportunities to attend his own graduations, Mr Ong explained that he still managed to put his knowledge to good use and that he missed those ceremonies to attend to more important events.
With the intention to reassure the graduates to not dwell on the disappointment of missing such an important event, Mr Ong reminded the students that they will be graduating in an extraordinary year in history.
“If you are in your final year, trust me, years from now, you will not miss the graduation ceremony. You will remember that you graduated in an extraordinary year in history, where the human spirit was put to the most stringent of tests, and kindness and love in our communities helped us pull through.”
Not forgetting to acknowledge the important occasion for the students, Mr Ong advised them to celebrate their graduation at home with their families. He concluded his Facebook post by suggesting the students to have a nice meal and take photos with their families as a way to mark the occasion.
“But do mark the occasion at home with your loved ones. Take a nice picture and have a nice meal with your family. But I am sure you can come up with much better ideas to celebrate the occasion than mine.
Mr Ong’s message emphasised that students who miss their graduation ceremony this year are doing it for a more important matter which is to avoid possible transmissions of COVID-19.