Almost 35 years ago, Singapore set up Special Assistance Plan (SAP) schools to nurture bicultural and bilingual students.
Today, these schools continue to play an important role in the education system, as they maintain the values of the old Chinese schools adapted to a new age, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Tuesday.
But he stressed that they must produce students who are well-integrated into Singapore's multiracial and multi-religious society.
The students must also be taught to give back to society, having benefited from Singapore's meritocratic system, he added.
"If we do it well, it gives us a unique strength - a deep understanding of one's own culture, within a multicultural context - which will enable you to continue maintaining harmony in Singapore, and also to thrive in a globalised world," he said.
Mr Lee was speaking at the 80th anniversary of CHIJ St Nicholas Girls' School.
He also officially opened its rebuilt campus in Ang Mo Kio GRC's Teck Ghee ward, where he is the MP.
SAP schools like St Nicholas' were set up in 1979 to produce students who are poised to seize opportunities in China and create new ones for Singaporeans back home, he said.