Back to top

Welcome Address By Professor Cheong Hee Kiat At The Service-Learning Symposium

Welcome Address By Professor Cheong Hee Kiat, President, Singapore University Of Social Sciences (SUSS), At The Service-Learning Symposium on Thu, July 12, 2018, 9.30 a.m., Enabling Village / Leng Kee CC

Mr Tan Chuan Jin, Speaker, Parliament of Singapore
Mr David Chua, Chief Executive of the National Youth Council
Mr Ong Kah Kuang, Executive Director, Youth Corps Singapore

Distinguished guests, colleagues, students, ladies and gentlemen;

  1. Good morning and a warm welcome to the Singapore Service-Learning Symposium.
About the symposium
  1. Let me first thank our partner, Youth Corp Singapore (YCS) and my colleagues from the Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) for their great effort in organising this event. This is the second Service-Learning symposium YCS and SUSS are co-organising. At the inaugural conference in 2016, we announced the development of a Graduate Certificate programme in Service-Learning to enhance Service-Learning capabilities in Singapore’s youth sector. This meets the growing need for effective Service-Learning practitioners who can play a key role in facilitating Service-Learning programmes and experiences, which enable our young to learn from the communities. Crucially, we purpose to nurture the next generation of youth who can effectively and meaningfully serve society.
  1. We have designed three modules for the programme. Through these, learners are able to gain an in-depth understanding of Service-Learning and its practice as a pedagogy in local and international contexts. The first run of two modules has been successfully completed, with positive feedback from all participants. By November this year, all three modules will have been offered.
  1. A meaningful theme has been chosen for this symposium – “An Ecosystem for Collective Good”. It focuses on how different stakeholders can build a collaborative ecosystem to improve community initiatives for collective impact. We have with us today some 200 participants from the youth, social service and education sectors, and a wide spectrum of community partners, agencies and emerging youth leaders. And, it is encouraging that many who were with us last in 2016 have joined us today!
  1. This year’s symposium also serves as preparation for Singapore’s Service-Learning community in the lead-up to the 7th Asia-Pacific Regional Symposium on Service-Learning, to be held in Singapore for the first time in June 2019, hosted by SUSS.
SUSS and the symposium

  1. The symposium theme underscores a basic tenet for success in a wider context beyond service learning. It is about a collaborative effort within an eco-system that encourages, facilitates and taps on collaboration that will win the day in the future. It is not just government doing social good, or social help-organisations, or individuals or a combination of some of these, but it is many eyes and hearts working jointly and synergistically for the good of all. It is pooling resources, sensing the right touch points, avoiding distortions in interventions, building sustainable systems for social well-being, and developing leaders and followers for the cause.
  1. At SUSS, we endeavour to form attitudes, mindsets and behaviour in our students that prepare them for service to others after graduation, through our 3H education philosophy – Head (knowledge with practical application), Heart (social conscience) and Habit (self-directed lifelong learning habits). Following our re-naming as the Singapore University of Social Sciences last March, we seek to ensure that all our disciplines create strong and positive social impact. We want our staff, students, programmes and research to have hearts in the right place – which is to develop a heart for others and contribute to the betterment of society.
  1. At today’s symposium, participants will get to learn and share how they can jointly create this ecosystem for collective good, and define and build shared values that will drive action for doing good across our communities. Not to forget, let’s also visit the exhibitions by SUSS, National Council of Social Service, Youth Corps Singapore and various Social Service Organisations – where we can find out what the different groups are doing for the community.
Examples of Students

  1. At SUSS, service-learning is a graduating requirement for our full-time students. It is conceived as an integral part of the University’s learning ecology and an initiative to empower students to further cultivate and act on their sense of social responsibility. Our students participate in activities which are coordinated with ‘do-good’ organisations and with the community. In this partnership, social service and community organisations serve as co-educators to facilitate cross-sector guidance of our students in service learning. Let me mention three full-time SUSS students who have benefited from such opportunities.
  1. Law Jia Yi. She’s our First Year Social Work student, a Youth Corp Aspirant Leader, and she works with her Community Partner, Lakeside Family Services. She is involved in Expedition Agape, a Lakeside Family Services initiative, where she mentors underprivileged teenagers. It benefits both ways – the teenagers learn from Jia Yi and vice versa. In the process, relationships are built, experiences are shared and beliefs are imparted. Now, Jiayi has also just started her learning journey with Rainbow Centre, a non-profit organisation for persons with developmental disabilities.
  1. Then, there is Rohini Ravindran, a First Year Accountancy student. Rohini is on her way to become a Youth Corp Aspirant Leader and serves with REACH Community Services, where she teaches photography and videography to at-risk youths. She is also an active member of SUSS Service-Learning Inspire, an SUSS initiative to inspire and serve the SUSS student community to enrich their lives through service-learning. Through these experiences, Rohini has gained a deeper understanding of the community needs and strengths.
  1. The third example is Amanda Chiam, a Fourth Year Accountancy student who will be graduating later this year. In her first year as an undergraduate, Amanda co-founded “Learn, Love, Live”, a service-learning collaboration with Pertapis TAJ to provide holistic education empowerment through outings, weekly tuition, and mentorship to school-going children of families receiving Pertapis TAJ bursaries. To develop buy-in for the programme, Amanda and her team went the extra mile to engage and involve the parents of the students they were mentoring, through regular chats and social activities. For her contributions, the group received the Pertapis Outstanding Volunteer Award from then Speaker of Parliament Madam Halimah Yacob in both 2016 and 2017. It was challenging in the initial founding years but it is a sustainable programme today. Having coached her juniors to take over the leadership of this programme, Amanda continues to teach the students and also serve as a mentor to the current leaders.
  1. You can speak to Rohini, Jia Yi, and our SUSS students and staff to find out more about our service-learning projects.
  1. Finally, like the eco-system that is the theme of this symposium, there is an eco-system of Institutes of Higher Learning that can be formed to advance the service-learning goals for the benefit of the community. I hope we can work towards that, and partner with the Social Services and Not-for-Profit sector to balance both the needs of the community and educational outcomes of the students.

  1. Friends and partners, thank you all for coming. Special thanks to Mr Tan Chuan Jin, Speaker of Parliament, for his presence and support. I address him as Speaker, but really, he is more of someone who has his heart in social well-being and an advocate of service to the community especially the disadvantaged. I wish all of you an instructive and fruitful day of enriching sharing and exchange.

Thank you.​
Back to top