Launch of 42 Singapore - Speech by SUTD President Prof Chong Tow Chong

05 Sep 2023

Good afternoon
Minister Chan Chun Sing, Minister for Education, Singapore
Your Excellency Ms Minh-di Tang, Ambassador of France to Singapore
Mr Lee Tzu Yang, SUTD Chairman
Dr Sam Goi, Patron of SUTD Advancement
Board of Trustees
Distinguished partners, guests and of course, students of 42 Singapore,
Thank you for joining us here today.
The launch of 42 Singapore has been a long time coming. It began back in 2019 when I paid my first visit to Ecole 42 in Paris. While I was there, I saw many similarities in 42's pedagogy with SUTD's. We both place heavy emphasis on:

  •  human-centric education,

  • peer-to-peer and self-directed learning.

I was very impressed by how successful the programme was in producing agile and highly skilled coders and programmers even though it doesn’t rely on academic background, textbooks, teachers nor classes. The students that went through the course were highly motivated and were all well-equipped with specialised skills to meet industry needs. And best of all, they did it all for free!
I knew then that SUTD had to bring this unique programme to Singapore, so that Singaporeans and residents could benefit from it.
Two years later, in 2021, we signed an MOU with 42 Paris to set up 42 Singapore, which is a free CET to develop future ready programming talents. This signing was witnessed by Education Minister, Mr Chan Chun Sing and SUTD Chairman, Mr Lee Tzu Yang, who are both here with us today, and His Excellency, Mr Marc Abensour, the former Ambassador of France to Singapore.
Today, we are pleased to welcome our inaugural batch of 42 Singapore students. All 190 of them, ranging from 18 to 60 years old, went through 26 intensive days of piscines ('swimming pool' in French) to make it here.
Although almost half of the pisciners have had no prior coding experience, we saw a high pass rate of 63.6% – which is well above the average of all 50 42 campuses around the world. The incoming students span a diverse profile – in terms of age, educational qualifications, and occupation. In fact, we have students whose education levels range from those without degrees to those with post-graduate degrees. About a third are in full-time employment and will be juggling studies and work at the same time. Another third are currently unemployed and will be using this opportunity to upskill themselves, whilst the rest are students, working part-time or retirees. This is a perfect example of how SUTD promotes inclusivity, continuous learning and innovation, as well as skills beyond book knowledge.
I would like to congratulate all of you for your determination and perseverance in completing the piscine. And I am sure that your “can-do” spirit will continue to propel you to advance in this programme. Please give yourselves a round of applause!
Given the fact that the 42 programme is tuition-free, I would like to take this opportunity to thank our donors, without whom this unique programmme would not have been possible. From SkillsFuture Singapore to donors like SHEIN, foodpanda, Web3 Development Community, Mr Duane Kuang and Yunqi (云启) Partners, we have seen strong contributions not just in monetary terms but also in the provision of valuable mentorship and internship opportunities. In essence, this gives 42 students a good launchpad to enter the tech industry once they graduate.
I would like to also thank Minister Chan, MOE colleagues and the French Embassy for your generous support in making this programme a reality. 
I believe that with your continued support, the 42 Singapore programme will be able to benefit more individuals in our community and increase the pipeline of skilled tech talents for our digital economy.
Thank you.