Project helps students understand the law

Curriculum to include new topics on sexual and property offences, and substance abuse

Is it illegal to deliver drugs to a friend? What is "consent" in the eyes of the law? Will I go to jail if I am caught stealing?

An ongoing initiative tackling the basic law questions students may have will soon include three new topics on substance abuse, sexual offences and property offences.

Due to launch later this year, the revamped Project Schools will also feature an updated curriculum for its five topics - knowing the law, domestic violence, cyber offences, gangs and rioting, and illegal moneylending.

Since it was started by the Law Society Pro Bono Services (LSPBS) in 2012, the initiative has involved 30 secondary schools and at least 20,000 students, aged 12 to 17.

In addition, more than 18 new schools have shown interest in it so far this year.

Teachers and school counsellors are given training and teaching materials by the Pro Bono Services. They have the flexibility to integrate the topics into the school curriculum in various ways.

For instance, some have chosen to teach two to three topics for each cohort with the help of videos, while others have delivered them as standalone activities, such as post- exam or after school workshops.

This ensures that the programme remains "engaging, relevant and sustainable" for each school, a LSPBS spokesman told The Straits Times.

Beyond raising awareness about the law among youth, it also aims to educate them about their rights and steer them away from crime.

The spokesman said: "It is crucial for youth to be aware of the consequences of their actions and the impact it would have on their lives, as well as that of their loved ones, so that they do not commit offences inadvertently or on the spur of the moment.

"Besides deterrence, the programme also aims to educate youth on how the law can protect them and informs them of the avenues of help available."

Special needs students have also benefited.

APSN Delta Senior School (DSS) covers the material twice a year with students during its meet-the- parent sessions. Through role-play and case studies, its job coach Zuriat Rashid said she is able to put across topics like workplace bullying, criminal punishment for those with special needs, and the Appropriate Adult scheme, among others.

There are plans to extend the programme to polytechnics, junior colleges and international schools.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 03, 2017, with the headline 'Project helps students understand the law'. Print Edition | Subscribe