Data analytics to help Malay/Muslim students

Communications and Information Minister Yaacob Ibrahim interacting with pupils under the Mendaki Tuition Scheme at Northland Primary School yesterday, as Yayasan Mendaki CEO Rahayu Buang looks on.
Communications and Information Minister Yaacob Ibrahim interacting with pupils under the Mendaki Tuition Scheme at Northland Primary School yesterday, as Yayasan Mendaki CEO Rahayu Buang looks on.PHOTO: YAYASAN MENDAKI

Yayasan Mendaki partners SUSS to collaborate in research and data analytics

Self-help group Yayasan Mendaki is harnessing technology to help Malay/Muslim students do better academically, and to become a more integral part of the country's smart nation drive.

It has partnered the Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) to collaborate in research and data analytics.

Through this collaboration, it hopes to enhance its academic programmes aimed at Malay/Muslim students and their families.

An agreement between Yayasan Mendaki and SUSS was signed yesterday at Northland Primary School, at an event that also marked the beginning of the Mendaki Tuition Scheme programme for the year.

Attending the event was Communications and Information Minister Yaacob Ibrahim, who also serves as Yayasan Mendaki's chairman.

The agreement is in line with the self-help group's efforts to be part of Singapore's smart nation drive, he said, adding that Yayasan Mendaki had set up a digital transformation unit last year to look into how to incorporate technology into its processes and services.

One possible use of data analytics could be for predictive analysis purposes, to allow Yayasan Mendaki deeper insight into its services to better allocate resources for students under its programmes.

"For example, students who are better in mathematics may require less attention in the subject. Thus, data analytics would allow us to allocate resources to those who need more help in that area, " said Dr Yaacob, who is also the Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs.

"In six months, we hope to have a better picture of what can be achieved with this collaboration, and what can be done with the data," he added, noting that the collaboration between Yayasan Mendaki and SUSS will be carried out in three phases over three years.

SUSS president Cheong Hee Kiat said the university has been building up its own capabilities in data analytics since 2007, when it first started its degree programme in business analytics.

This expertise has already been used to analyse the data of the university's students for teaching purposes, he noted.

"We thought, why not work with others to share this expertise?" said Professor Cheong.

He added that the collaboration would not only allow Yayasan Mendaki to tap SUSS' knowledge in data analytics, but also build up the self-help group's capabilities to be able to carry out such work in the future.

Prof Cheong said SUSS hopes to share this "thirst for data analytics" with other organisations.

"Hopefully, more self-help groups will adopt this methodology to improve their way of working."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 14, 2018, with the headline 'Data analytics to help Malay/Muslim students'. Print Edition | Subscribe