Service learning extended to university

Students at yesterday's Service Learning Festival with an elderly person from the Lions Befrienders senior activity centre. More than 40,000 students have gone through the service learning programme since it was started in 2006 with the aim of giving
Students at yesterday's Service Learning Festival with an elderly person from the Lions Befrienders senior activity centre. More than 40,000 students have gone through the service learning programme since it was started in 2006 with the aim of giving students a chance to serve others beyond the classroom environment.ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

Students at SUSS will be able to continue their community work

The People's Association Youth Movement (PAYM) is extending its service learning programme to institutes of higher learning here, beginning with the Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS).

This will allow students to continue to contribute to society and be active in the community into their university years.

Service learning is an educational approach where students learn values through community service.

More than 40,000 students have gone through the programme since it was started in 2006 by PAYM and the Education Ministry, with the aim of giving students a chance to serve others beyond the classroom environment, and thus learn the values of compassion and generosity, as well as organisational and teamwork skills.

People in the community who got help also benefited.

Now, about 70 projects to reach out to residents and the less privileged are started each year by students from 103 schools, comprising secondary schools, junior colleges and a pre-university institute.

PAYM announced the expansion yesterday at its annual Service Learning Festival, held at the SUSS campus in Clementi Road.

At the event, Mr Ong Ye Kung, Education Minister (Higher Education and Skills), presented 21 Project Accolade awards to recognise programmes that have successfullyintegrated student learning objectives with meaningful community service. He also gave out 12 Star Awards to outstanding student leaders.

Service learning helps open the eyes of students here to the needs of others, which is something they need to take into account when considering what course or career to pursue, said Mr Ong Ye Kung, Education Minister (Higher Education and Skills). "It's about what you want to do for others, for the people around you."

Among the programmes recognised was one aimed at protecting children from online predators, and another to show appreciation for the contributions of migrant workers.

One of the winners, 16-year-old Springfield Secondary student Siti A'dlina Md Yusoff, who helped organise projects such as visiting elderly residents at Jamiyah Home for the Aged and educating Tampines residents on the Zika virus, said service learning "shaped (her) into becoming a better person".

"I'm very shy and quiet, but after I was introduced to service learning, my confidence level and leadership skills improved," said Ms A'dlina, adding that she is now more confident.

Another winner, Millennia Institute student Ong Cheng Kiat, 19, said he gained satisfaction from helping people understand issues such as the raising of water prices earlier this year.

Service learning helps open the eyes of students here to the needs of others, which is something they need to take into account when considering what course or career to pursue, said Mr Ong.

"It's about what you want to do for others, for the people around you," he added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 28, 2017, with the headline 'Service learning extended to university'. Print Edition | Subscribe