New opportunity for teenagers to give back to society

This story first appeared in The Straits Times on Aug 16, 2014

Teenagers will soon have a new avenue to help them serve the community, even after they leave secondary school.

The new National Youth Internship Programme will give teens the opportunity to take up internships with groups like voluntary welfare organisations (VWOs) and those in the youth sector.

The stints - which could involve helping the needy, people with special needs or younger students - will last two to six months. The National Youth Fund will fund up to 80 per cent - capped at $480 per intern per month - of the interns' allowances. The remainder will be funded by the uniformed groups or community organisations.

The scheme is targeted at those 17 and over who are waiting to join junior colleges, polytechnics, the Institute of Technical Education and universities.

Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong announced the new initiative at a camp for students from uniformed groups yesterday.

The programme will begin with a pilot intake of 60 members this year from uniformed groups such as the National Police Cadet Corps and Singapore Scouts Association.

Mr Wong said they were chosen as they have “a very strong ethos of service learning”, plus the capabilities and resources to develop fulfilling programmes for young people.

The first batch will go through an induction programme at Outward Bound Singapore before starting their internships from January next year.

Yesterday, Mr Wong told 600 secondary school students attending the camp at the Home Team Academy in Choa Chu Kang: “When you serve, your life will be richer, your community will be happier and our nation will be stronger.”

The new initiative by the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth and the National Youth Council (NYC) aims to provide ways for young people to give back to society and hone their leadership skills outside of school.

It comes on top of the existing Youth Corps Singapore run by the NYC for those aged 15 to 35.

This programme, which involves a year-long commitment to local and overseas volunteering stints, had a first intake of 90 who started their training in June.

“In between the schools and the Youth Corps, we think there’s a bit of a gap,” said Mr Wong.

“They want to do more to serve, and they’ll like to find some programmes and pathways to do it in a meaningful way.”

Secondary 3 student and scout Lee Kee Hon is interested in signing up for the internship.

He said: “It would be a good chance to share my knowledge and skills with younger students.

“Contributing to the community is also important, so having such a programme motivates me to be involved.

“Otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to find time.”

ateng@sph.com.sg