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​NTU establishes professorship and bursary in honour of education stalwart Prof Lee Sing Kong​

Published on: 26-Aug-2017

Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) has established an endowed Professorship in Early Childhood Education in honour of the late Prof Lee Sing Kong, who was NTU’s Vice President for Alumni and Advancement, and previous Director of the National Institute of Education (NIE).

The Lee Sing Kong Professorship in Early Childhood Education honours Prof Lee's distinguished contributions to Singapore, in particular his lifelong dedication to education. At the National Day Rally, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced that a new National Institute of Early Childhood Development will be set up to raise the standing of the preschool education profession. The Lee Sing Kong professorship will be an integral part of the institute that will be under the ambit of NIE.

In addition, a new NTU bursary for Singaporean students from less privileged families will also be established in his name.

The professorship and bursary will be funded through a new endowment fund ​named in Prof Lee's honour. The idea for the new fund was mooted by a group of alumni who wanted to honour and remember Prof Lee. Since Prof Lee had always been passionate about education and needy students, they decided this is a good cause to pursue. The late Prof Lee Sing Kong, humbly likening himself to a gardener, once said, “Education and farming share a very strong parallel – they involve the process of nurturing and the goals are to help unleash the potential of either a plant or a child.”

The new fund was announced today by Prof Tan Oon Seng, NIE Director, at the inaugural NTU Alumni Awardees Gala Reunion. Mr Chan Chun Sing, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, graced the event, which was attended by some 200 alumni and guests. Besides being remembered as a lifelong educator, Prof Lee was also known for the close ties that he had forged with NTU alumni.

Prior to the announcement, Mr Chan took part in a panel discussion on the topic, “Challenges and Opportunities in the Future Economy”, chaired by Mr Inderjit Singh, a Member of the NTU Board of Trustees.

The other panellists who participated in the discussion included Mrs Yu-Foo Yee Shoon, former Minister of State and former Mayor of South West District; Mr Tan Chin Hwee, an NTU alumnus and Member of the NTU Board of Trustees; and Dr Lim Jui, CEO of NTUitive, the innovation and enterprise arm of NTU.

The gala reunion is a new platform for NTU alumni award winners to engage in dialogue with a Singapore leader and their fellow NTU alumni on major current issues.

Lee Sing Kong Professorship in Early Childhood Education & Bursary 

The visiting professorship will be established at the National Institute of Education (NIE) and aims to attract leading academics who have demonstrated excellence and established international recognition in teaching and research in early childhood education.

NTU President, Prof Bertil Andersson said, "Professor Lee Sing Kong had served Singapore and NTU with immense commitment and distinction throughout his career. Establishing the Lee Sing Kong Professorship in Early Childhood Education will continue his legacy of furthering the importance of education, particularly during early childhood. The way children engage with their teachers, peers and tasks is vital to their future development and success in life."

Prof Tan Oon Seng, NIE Director said, “Professor Lee Sing Kong was an admired leader, professor, teacher, mentor and friend to many. Professor Lee’s faithful and passionate service is a loss not just to the university and the education fraternity but also to the many humanitarian communities he served locally and internationally.”

Education stalwart

Born in 1951, Prof Lee Sing Kong played a leading role in his initial career as a horticulturalist to preserve and develop Singapore's national parks and greenery. In doing so, he helped to realise the late founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew's vision of Singapore as a Garden City.

Later, as one of Singapore’s leading educationists, Prof Lee played a major role in transforming teacher training in Singapore.

As Director of NIE from 2006 to 2014, Prof Lee rallied the institute and the teaching fraternity to bring Singapore’s education system to greater heights, and to place NIE on the world map. Singapore's success in the global Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) rankings in maths, science and reading and other global league tables are a testament to his contributions.

After stepping down from NIE, Prof Lee was appointed Vice President for Education Strategies at NTU. Leveraging on his longstanding experience as an educator, Prof Lee had developed NTU’s innovations in curricula, teaching methods and assessment. He became the university’s Vice President of Alumni and Advancement in August 2015. Prof Lee also established NTU's Centre for Research and Development in Learning (CRADLE), which moved NTU into research for higher education learning.

For his many contributions to Singapore's education system, Prof Lee received Singapore’s prestigious Public Administration Medal (Gold) in 2011 and Public Administration Medal (Silver) in 2004. He passed away on 19 May this year, at age 65.  

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Media contact:

Mr Feisal Abdul Rahman 
Senior Assistant Director  
Corporate Communications Office 
Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
Tel: (65) 6790 6687
Email: feisalar(at)

About Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

A research-intensive public university, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) has 33,500 undergraduate and postgraduate students in the colleges of Engineering, Business, Science, Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, and its Interdisciplinary Graduate School. NTU’s Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, was set up jointly with Imperial College London.

NTU is also home to world-class autonomous institutes – the National Institute of Education, S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Earth Observatory of Singapore, and Singapore Centre for Environmental Life Sciences Engineering – and various leading research centres such as the Nanyang Environment & Water Research Institute (NEWRI), Energy Research Institute @ NTU (ERI@N) and the Institute on Asian Consumer Insight (ACI). 

Ranked 11th in the world, NTU has also been ranked the world’s top young university for the last four years running. The University’s main campus has been named one of the Top 15 Most Beautiful in the World. NTU also has a campus in Novena, Singapore’s medical district.

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