Designing projects to solve community issues becomes part of Ngee Ann Poly's curriculum

Social enterprise students Liew Yan Zhang (left) and Chong Yao Xiang designed a project in which needy people in Cambodia could use recycled cardboard to make educational tools which could be sold.
Social enterprise students Liew Yan Zhang (left) and Chong Yao Xiang designed a project in which needy people in Cambodia could use recycled cardboard to make educational tools which could be sold.ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

SINGAPORE - Students at Ngee Ann Polytechnic will soon play a more active role in addressing issues faced by the community.

On Tuesday, the polytechnic said that every diploma course it offers will have at least one module that has a "service learning" element, in which students are encouraged to design projects to solve existing problems in the community.

Some 22 service-learning modules will be rolled out in 2016. This will grow to 50 modules by 2018. Seventy Ngee Ann Polytechnic lecturers have been trained for these modules and 50 more will be trained by the end of 2016.

On the reasons for the move, Mr Clarence Ti, principal of Ngee Ann Polytechnic, said it is important to groom students with empathy, adding that "it is far better for the polytechnic to (nurture) a generation of big hearted people than a generation of brilliant people".

Ngee Ann Polytechnic's senior director Choo Cheh Hoon said that the service-learning modules will give students the opportunity to "walk in the shoes of their beneficiaries and better understand their needs".

In one pilot service-learning module last year, third year business and social enterprise students Liew Yan Zhang and Chong Yao Xiang, both 19, designed a project in which needy people in Cambodia could use recycled cardboard to make educational tools, such as models, which could be sold. This could then help the poor earn some cash.

They will be implementing their project in May this year.

Said Yan Zhang of the project: "It is deeply rewarding to apply what I have learnt in my course to help the less privileged lead better lives. This makes studying a lot more purposeful."