Nation building and school volunteerism
IN a 2005 parliamentary question and answer session, then Education Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam commented on the Community Involvement Programme (CIP) in schools: "CCA and CIP ... are integral to character education in all our schools. ... On the whole, the CIP has been a very positive experience. The results of our annual CIP surveys and direct feedback from students in dialogue and feedback sessions indicate that CIP has made an impact in developing a spirit of volunteerism in our students during their school years."
Building "heartware" and nation
In her 2006 parliamentary speech, Dr Fatimah Lateef (MP, Marine Parade GRC) had this to say on the CIP:
"What better way to inculcate this than through volunteerism and community involvement. The only way to understand the contribution of time, effort and energy of volunteers, is by immersing oneself in these very similar activities. The involvement can help evolve youths as well as young adults to have a wider perspective, a more global view. It can help shape personalities and character as well as make them more tolerant. As it is, the post-65 generation has always been blamed for not understanding our roots and the hardships faced by our parents and grandparents. Through volunteerism, we can feel poverty, sadness, misery, desperation, fear and hunger. I can personally vouch for this for having done volunteer work and community service for over 20 years, including humanitarian activities overseas in countries such as Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, and so on. We have to learn how to empathise. We have to learn that helping others is a blessing. And we learn to also take nothing for granted, including our livelihood and security as well. We can build up our ‘heartware”. As we serve, it will help trigger emotions on seeing, learning and feeling the unspoken hopes of many who are disabled, disadvantaged and in need."
Dr Lateef went on to add that through the CIP and related youth expedition programme (YEP), our youth will get to see the real world, the global village, will learn and mature. Volunteers will be able to offer ideas which are productive, ideas that incorporate their experiences and thereby contribute to the task of nation building.
CIP and schools - see earlier story
Doing CIP with an external institution: Focus on Yong-en Care Centre
In addition to school listed activities forming the CIP and Service Learning, students could also check out external MOE/school-approved institutions (current list obtainable through their school) they could attach to for volunteer work.
Yong-en Care Centre (YCC) is one such institution that has worked with student volunteers seeking to amass CIP hours. In 2009, 12 student groups volunteered at the centre. A YCC spokesperson noted that 90% of the students working on their programmes expressed a high satisfaction in their volunteer work there. This was reinforced by the fact that more than 33% of the student volunteer applications were from those who return to work with YCC for their 2nd or subsequent projects.
YCC's Peggy Ng who is its senior executive for community relations said:
"We have been engaging volunteers for a whole range of services involving the elderly, kids, preteens/youth, and family. Others include fundraising, projects pertaining to building resources for community relations eg creating materials/resources according to any specialized skills. So we engage many volunteers with very diversified interests. Some volunteers serve with us in more than one area, and they can look forward to gaining a rich and fulfilling experience with us."
She noted that the volunteers usually say they enjoy volunteering at the centre because of warm and caring colleagues, and because YCC offers a very conducive environment for clients and volunteers alike.
"Plus of course, it is also definitely very conveniently located," she added.