Dear INEI community,

With deep sadness and a very heavy heart, we have to break the devastating news to all of you that NIE Director Emeritus, Professor Lee Sing Kong (2006-2014) and one of our founder deans, passed away very suddenly in the early evening of Friday, 19 May 2017.


Below is the announcement from NIE:

After an illustrious career in the civil service, Prof Lee joined NIE in 1991 and was in various positions of leadership. He spearheaded several initiatives, most notably, the redesigning of NIE’s organisational structure based on the matrix model. In 2000, as Dean of the Graduate Programmes and Research Office, he implemented a wide range of professional development initiatives to enable teachers to develop professionally and to acquire postgraduate certification. He was appointed Director of NIE in 2006 and concurrently served as Dean of the External Programmes Office (EPO). When EPO evolved into NIE International Pte Ltd, Prof Lee assumed the position of Managing Director of the new company.

Prof Lee has greatly impacted Teacher Education in Singapore and internationally. He led in the articulation of the 3:3:3 Roadmap which outlined NIE’s strategic directions from 2007-2012  and guided NIE in achieving her vision of becoming An Institute of Distinction. A true educator and scientist at heart, Prof Lee saw a quality teaching force as the key that could improve student learning outcomes. His groundbreaking research and luminary service in Education has led to a proud list of awards and honorary doctorate degrees, the latest being his conferment as Doctor of Literature from University College London on 1 September 2016. Among his accolades are the Public Administration Medal (Bronze) (1981), Save Planet Earth Merit Award (1992), Asian Innovation Award (Bronze) (1998), Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Palmes Academiques (1999), National Technology Award 2000, Urban Agriculture Award 2000, Excellence for Singapore Award 2001, Singapore Innovation Award 2001, Public Administration Medal (Silver) (2004), Fellow of the Singapore Institute of Biology (2005), NUS Distinguished Alumni in Science Award (2009), Public Administration Medal (Gold) (2011) and Medal of Honour for the Cause of Education (Vietnam) 2011, the Medal for Distinguished Service from Teachers College (2013) and the Nanyang Awards for Service (2013).

Beyond his long list of careers and achievement, he is simply a visionary leader with a heart, a groundbreaking researcher, a selfless mentor and at heart, a great teacher. Humbly likening himself to a gardener, he shared,“…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.” With his boundless energy, Prof Lee Sing Kong grew teachers because he believed seriously in the role of every teacher. When asked how he would define a successful teacher, Professor Lee said, “the best teacher is one who can inspire the heart of every student and through this, change their lives not only within the classroom but beyond.”

While we are all united in our grief and mourn as an NIE community, let us also allow his legacy to live on by continuing to take our mission of teacher education and transforming teaching, learning and ultimately young lives very seriously. For this is what he would have hoped for all of us.   

We have all been greatly impacted by the life and devotion of Prof Lee Sing Kong. No words can ever sum up his life and contributions that endeared him to us. His infectious laughter and ever warm voice of cheer and words of care and encouragement will never be forgotten and will be forever missed.

On behalf of every member in the  NIE and NIE International family, we extend our deepest and most heartfelt condolences to his family and loved ones.


With deep sadness,

Professor Tan Oon Seng

Director, NIE Singapore


Click here to read the tributes to Professor Lee Sing Kong.