On May 23, Her Excellency Halimah Yacob, President of Singapore, visited Nazarbayev University, where she gave a lecture titled “From the Lion City to the Great Steppe”.
In her speech, President Halimah Yacob spoke about the close and mutually beneficial 30-year-long cooperation between Kazakhstan and Singapore.
During her lecture, the President of Singapore focused on three main, in her opinion, areas for cooperation between the "Lion City" and the "Great Steppe" - education, gender equality and equal opportunities for all citizens, as well as interreligious dialogue.
President Halimah spoke about Singapore's experience in advancement of education and ensuring universal access to education. The President highlighted the importance of promoting inclusivity and opportunities for lifelong learning, upskilling and reskilling. Speaking about Kazakhstan, President Halimah emphasized the country's efforts to increase the number of universities, improve the quality of education through government support, and increase academic mobility between the Kazakh and foreign universities.
“Singapore recognizes the importance of lifelong learning and I am working to increase opportunities for adult learning. I am pleased to note that education is one of the main pillars of the Kazakhstan 2050 strategy, and the National Development Plan of Kazakhstan until 2025 aims to improve access to high-quality education through investment in infrastructure and promotion of inclusive education policies throughout Kazakhstan,” President of Singapore said during the lecture.
President Halimah also noted the strong cooperation between Nazarbayev University and the National University of Singapore. Since August 2012, as part of a signed cooperation agreement, the Graduate School of Public Policy of Nazarbayev University (NU GSSP) and the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy of the National University of Singapore (LKU School) have been increasing academic exchanges, sharing best practices, and collaborating on joint research. As part of a strategic partnership, NU GSPP students have the opportunity to study at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy under the guidance of partners from Singapore in master's programs in public policy and public administration. Since 2016, 13 NU students have gone to study in Singapore, and 11 Singaporean students have come to study in Astana.
In addition to the student exchange program, there is also a successful faculty exchange program, allowing for NU GSPP professors to spend 1 semester at the LKY School, teach students of the LKY School, and also work on their research projects together with the teaching staff of the LKY School. Today three professors from Singapore contribute their expertise to the Nazarbayev University School of Medicine, the School of Engineering and Digital Sciences, and the Graduate School of Public Policy. Nazarbayev University scientists are also participating in multi-year collaborative research on “Belt and Road in Global Perspective” together with the National University of Singapore and the University of Toronto.
A significant moment of the visit of Her Excellency was the receipt of the title of Honorary Professor of Nazarbayev University. NU President Shigeo Katsu noted that it was a great honor and pride for the university to present such a title to the first female president of Singapore, a politician who promotes gender equality, inclusivity, social justice and other UN Sustainable Development Goals. The title was previously held by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013 and the late Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in 2015.
Halimah Yacob assumed office as Singapore's eighth President in September 2017, making history as the nation's first female President. Her election was uncontested, cementing her position as a respected leader. President Halimah has continually broken barriers throughout her political career. Her remarkable journey includes being the first Malay woman elected to Parliament in 2001. In 2013, she achieved another significant milestone by becoming the first woman to serve as Speaker of Parliament.
Halimah Yacob earned her degree in law from the University of Singapore with honors in 1978, later obtaining her Master’s in law in 2001. She built her career at the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), where she held positions such as director of the Women's Development Secretariat, as well as deputy secretary-general. Her dedication extended to serving as an advisor to the National Council of Social Services, and she held the role of the Minister of Community Development, Youth, and Sports.
Throughout her presidency, President Halimah Yacob has been a champion of initiatives aimed at fostering a cohesive society, promoting interfaith understanding, and acknowledging the contributions of all workers in Singapore's remarkable growth. Her strong international presence is evident through regular engagements with global leaders.
President Halimah Yacob has continually emphasized the importance of gender equality, advocating for companies to embrace this fundamental principle. Her involvement in various boards, including Mendaki Sense, the Tripartite Workgroup on Enhancing Employment Choices for Women, and the Tripartite Alliance on Fair Employment Practices, highlights her commitment to important causes. Caring for the elderly and mentally ill, as well as providing training opportunities for less skilled and older workers, are also causes close to Halima Yacob's heart. Her advocacy and dedication in these areas reflect her strong commitment to social welfare and inclusivity.
The lecture of President Halimah Yacob is available on the YouTube channel of Nazarbayev University.