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View Failure As A Step to Success

As part of the Voice Of A Fairsian Programme, Emily Thio from Secondary 4F spoke about accepting failure during the period when students received their Term One results and when the CCA teachers announced the Probational Student Leaders. Although this might be a joyful time for some students, others may feel disappointed. When asked what she hoped to achieve in her speech, Emily said, “I hope to inspire students not to give up even after failing. Instead, they should use this failure as a learning opportunity to move one step closer to success." (This speech was delivered in March 2020 during morning assembly.)

Emily’s Speech

Failure. What's failure? To some, it's not doing well enough academically, or losing a competition. To others, it's answering a question wrongly. Failure seems wrong and shameful, but is this really true?

Good morning Principal, Vice-Principals, teachers and fellow Fairsians! I'm Emily Thio from Secondary 4F and I'm here today to share with you why experiencing failure is important.


Nobody likes to fail, especially in Singapore. Some even go to the extent of rejecting life-changing opportunities just to avoid failure. This fear of making mistakes and humiliation as a result of these mistakes drive people away from challenges. To some extent, this fear of failure is one of the main causes of Singapore's high suicidal rates.

However, failure is not as bad as we imagine it to be. It is just not doing well in something. Without failure, the world would never have progressed. My grandfather once told me that we can only be successful after experiencing failures. He recounted that he failed his Physics A-Level examinations because he was too nervous during his Physics Practical Examination. Once he realised the reason for his failure, he worked hard to overcome this nervousness and redid his A-Level examinations. This time, he did well enough to even attain a scholarship to study at a university in Canada. He eventually obtained not only a Bachelor’s Degree but a Doctor of Philosophy. He then became an NUS professor and subsequently headed a department there. To me, my dearest grandfather is an inspiring example of a person who turned failure into success.

Failure helps to keep us in check. While nobody likes to experience failure, it lets us know that we are doing something wrongly. It also compels us to think of the reason behind our failure, and subsequently the method we should adopt to resolve the problem to attain success in future.

So, Fairsians, don’t be afraid of failure. Do your best. Believe in yourself. Even if you fail, learn from it and move on.

Thank you for listening.