SINGAPORE - Almost all students who finished secondary school last year completed at least two Values in Action (VIA) projects that impacted their school or community, the Ministry of Education (MOE) said on Tuesday (Sept 18).
In 2012, it was announced that the Community Involvement Programme (CIP) would gradually be replaced with the VIA programme, where the focus shifted from community service to developing desired values in students.
Under VIA, students learn about community issues and the needs of others, and come up with proposals on how they can contribute to improvements in school, at home or in the community. It is compulsory for students in primary and secondary schools, junior colleges and centralised institutes.
Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Education and Social and Family Development Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim said VIA has "a more long-lasting and deeper impact" than the CIP.
He was speaking to the media at Chongzheng Primary School, after a group of students from its Innovation Club gave him a presentation on some of their VIA projects.
Dr Faishal said: "VIA allows the students to think, conceptualise and make sure there are experiential components. At the same time, there is a long-term and sustained component.
"It's not only about doing projects. The notion of innovation is also prevalent - the students are encouraged to think beyond the norm; they have to think of ways to creatively approach the issues at hand."
One of the campaigns launched by the students, called Grampathy (a combination of gratitude and empathy), involved the publishing of a children's storybook last year and a comic book this year.
The storybook, called Shoe Koala And His Shoes, revolves around a koala who makes shoes for his animal friends, and realises that different animals have different needs.
It aims to teach young children the importance of seeing things from others' perspectives, and of showing gratitude and empathy to people around them.
About 1,000 copies of the 20-page book were printed.
The students gave 500 copies free to PCF Sparkletots pre-schools, and are selling the rest for $5 each to cover their costs.
The comic book, Shoe Koala, is an extension of the first book.
Team leader Syabil Oh, who is in Primary 6, said his peers are looking to take the project further and explore the idea of a third book, even after they leave the school.
He said: "We want to reach more people, and spread the message more."
Dr Faishal said: "It is important to continue to create this environment for them. VIA ensures that we are able to provide a more holistic educational journey for the children that is fun.
"When they are able to relate (to a cause) and do something they find interesting, the whole experience becomes a very worthwhile journey for them."