Driving Hwa Chong Institution’s culture of excellence

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Suresh Nair

WHEN it comes to grooming future leaders, few can come close to Hwa Chong Institution (HCI).

As Singapore progresses and evolves, HCI’s plans for the future will also transform to nurture leaders and provide a talent pipeline for the country.

In a nutshell, there are four factors which make them stand out from other leading educational institutes in town and in the process, winning last year’s Singapore Quality Award (SQA) with Special Commendation — which recognises past SQA winners for scaling greater heights of business excellence and for demonstrating global leadership in key business areas.

Not at the risk of blowing its own trumpets, Dr Hon Chiew Weng, Principal of Hwa Chong Institution says, firstly, the people-centric culture creates a staff culture which is constantly ready to push the boundaries of educational innovation and where the staff continues to hone their expertise and contribute to research on teaching and learning.

Second, the development of students as individual talents nurtures leaders who embody both a passion for life and compassion for others.

Third, the vast global network of partners and alumni which creates an international repository of knowledge and expertise from which the students can learn. With their invaluable real-world expertise, the industry and research partners bring with them well-honed experience in their varied fields.

Fourth, the presence of bold and visionary leaders ensures that key management systems and robust succession plans drive the school’s culture of excellence.

Dr Hon says HCI differentiates itself from other top educational institutes through a unique and personalised curriculum that nurtures critical thinkers and problem-solvers.

48 GLOBAL TITLES

The proof is in the pudding and this is evidenced by how Hwa Chong students have brought 48 world championship titles that span across various disciplines, from community problem-solving to the sciences and the humanities.

Given that two-thirds of Hwa Chong’s 48 global accolades at 24 global events are repeat victories this indicates that “our curriculum has in place sustained and rigorous processes to develop students capable of marrying theoretical knowledge to novel applications”.

He adds: “The second manner in which HCI differentiates itself is through its people-centric culture. A culture of excellence and innovation drives teaching and learning in HCI.”

Founded in 2005, HCI was created by the merger of The Chinese High School and Hwa Chong Junior College. As a Special Assistance Plan (SAP) School, its role is to help widen the local Chinese language talent pool, as well as preserve and transmit the best of Chinese values and culture.  It is one of the top Independent Schools in Singapore offering the GCE ‘A’ Level Integrated Programme (IP).

Over 100 doctoral-and-master level research projects have been carried out by Hwa Chong teachers. Over 80 per cent of Hwa Chong teachers hold advanced degrees from leading universities, including National Univesity of Singapore (NUS), Harvard, Penn, Imperial College, Oxford, Cambridge, Peking, Tsinghua and Fudan.

ENTREPRENEURIAL TALENTS

HCI is also part of the Global Learning Alliance (GLA) which brings together the world’s most innovative schools in top-performing countries like Australia, Canada, China (Shanghai), Finland and the United States. Cross-border collaborations with top schools such as Columbia University and Scarsdale Public Schools continue to place HCI at the forefront of educational change and innovation.

“Moving forward, as Singapore moves into a decade marked by greater volatility and uncertainty, a new generation of entrepreneurial talents need to be able to innovate and problem-solve so as to maintain Singapore’s competitiveness and to create wealth for fellow Singaporeans,” Dr Hon says.

“It is only with this sense of mutual respect and trust that we can strengthen the social compact that we have taken over 50 years to build as a nation. All these require transformative practices in teaching and renewed attitudes towards learning for the 21st century that begin at the classroom.”

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