Learning Minds and Plumping Pockets

25 January 2000

It was such a pleasure for me to attend the graduation ceremony of the Open University last year. It impressed upon me that the graduates on stage had achieved their goal with such determination and will power. This is certainly not easy as we live in a society that thrives on prosperity, where there is such a strong emphasis on material gains, where seeing beyond the narrow ambit of self-interest is not encouraged, and taking the short cut whenever possible is justified. There is nothing wrong with striving for success, wealth, physical luxuries or fame, but experience tells us that for almost anything worthwhile, anything in which one can take pride, a great deal of time, effort, will power, discipline, persistence, and self-restraint is required. There is a vast difference between unearned self-esteem and hard-earned self-respect.

The new century ushers in an era of immense changes, revolutionary, dramatic and fundamental changes, globalization, and innovation. The pace of new technological advances of information systems creates new wealth, new economic cycles, and new lifestyles and societies. Thus it is important for us as a society to embrace these changes, not only through the financial market, but also through the manner in which we prepare ourselves. In this new age, wealth is the product of knowledge. It is a great personal asset and should be valued highly. Not only just as a tool to enhance professional advances, but it should also permeate our way of life, from how we educate our young to how we judge economic activities.

That is why I was so eager to support this new proposed learning centre of the Open University. I called Council Chairman Charles Lee after the Open University Congregation and found out about this new initiative. I immediately agreed to support this meaningful project, and I encourage others to lend their support to projects and programmes that promote life-long learning. I hope that the Government will provide more support for life-long educational initiatives and divert more funds to focus in this area so that everyone will have the opportunity to further their studies should they wish to do so.

The Open University has been very successful in developing human capital, and their efforts are highly commendable and praise-worthy. I am confident that their graduates will not only enhance their own prospects but also make a greater contribution to society. May I take this opportunity to wish the Open University continued success in the years ahead.