Don't make community work compulsory

Most people choose to engage in community service out of altruism ("Should schools enforce community work?"; Monday).

This being so, tertiary institutions should not make it mandatory for students to do community work, lest it be misconstrued as forced labour.

Community work cannot and will not be meaningful and purposeful if it is performed out of obligation, rather than with a sincere heart.

Enforcing it will not produce its desired objectives, but will only result in perfunctory services which do not benefit all parties concerned.

Most students strive to achieve good grades in their studies, and they barely have time to be involved in activities outside the classroom, much less do community work.

They may be keen to serve the community after completing their studies, especially when there are community services that suit their interests and skills.

It is good if students can give up their time to make a difference in their community.

It is true that people who engage in community service of their own free will usually fare better than those who get involved under obligation.

Jeffrey Law Lee Beng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 30, 2016, with the headline 'Don't make community work compulsory'. Print Edition | Subscribe