The Community Involvement Programme has been around for many years as part of the Ministry of Education’s plans

to introduce moral character and good values into young and impressionable Singaporean youth. However, until recent years the variety and quality of such programs has been severely limited. Students had little options available to them, able only to choose between helping out at an old folks’ home or tutoring primary school children free of charge. However, in recognition of the changing needs and wants of our youth, as well as to inject new vibrancy into a community initiative with great unused potential, the options for CIP have evolved and diversified rapidly. Students can now work between schools, choose to go overseas, or even propose their own programmes. This contributes towards making CIP interesting and desirable, while still teaching students the same moral values that remain significant and relevant even in this present day. The Community Involvement Programme was launched __ years ago by the Ministry of Education. It offered students the chance to gain credit by non-academic means, and essentially rewarded students for performing acts and services beneficial to society and the community at large, in one’s own small way. CIP hours – corresponding to the duration spent rendering this service – became a necessary requirement for graduation in many schools. In other words, the more CIP hours, the better. This led to debate over the value and purpose of the CIP program – did it truly encourage service learning and community involvement in students, or merely teach them that posturing and pretense of moral uprightness leads to reward? There were other criticisms of the CIP over the years, namely that the programmes offered a wholly limited number of options and did not entice students to perform them. Though the argument could be made that truly invested students would participate in CIP purely due to a passion for community service, the fact remained that CIP was a valuable platform in introducing students to the joys of service learning, and it was not doing a good job in that respect. Though a concrete list of programmes has never truly been enforced by the Ministry of Education, a set of stereotyped CIPs have entrenched themselves in our minds, and it is these stereotypes we seek to defy. In this vein, various schools and institutions have been coming up with novel and exciting CIPs, such as going overseas or organizing fairs and charity races to raise funds for various social welfare groups and the like. Finally, a third concern raised about the CIP was whether or not it was truly beneficial to the community as compared to “proper” social programs planned and funded by established professionals and adults; in other words, full-fledged members of society. Were CIP projects instituted by mere students inferior? Was the CIP merely a platform

we were complete strangers. In fact. Because I was so invested in the project. I was involved in a programme organized and funded by Citibank. Throughout the countless days. as well as innovation and creativity. With that in mind. however. I proceed to describe my personal CIP experience. I spent every day outside of home trying desperately to raise funds by any means possible for the charity of our choice. a sense of dedication was impressed into me – dedication towards the community. which spanned several months. we still meet up once in a while to catch up on each other’s lives. I was given leadership experience. so long as said activities were socially acceptable and financially feasible. the experience was extremely exhausting and I had no time for anything else during the holiday period.for students to learn to serve the community. which was the Make-a-Wish Foundation. As expected. as compared to typical CIPs (which would only last about one month and certainly would not occupy every day of my time). the value and meaning of service learning. however. one that typical academic lessons certainly could not have taught me. having to rally volunteers from my and other schools to help us out (in other words. called the Youth-For-Causes Program. I joined a group comprising students from all the different IP schools and institutions in Singapore. This was an extremely valuable takeaway. more than any other CIP so far. and not actually effective in the actual provision of service? These three points of debate were issues that modern CIP programmes now seek to resolve and fulfill. But the program was a success. Perseverance and motivation were key lessons.000 for the charity in question. This involved going down to Orchard Road. dedication towards my peers who were working with me. we had raised $15. and was involved in planning and carrying out fund-raising activities for a period of six months. City Hall and other busy areas every day for the June holidays and selling merchandise such as pens and badges to random members of the public. managing about 200 . Above all. This particular experience was very memorable for me because it made a deep impact on my life and taught me. I was able to take away so much more from the entire programme. we got to know each other on a deeply personal level and became the closest of friends. By the end of our six months. Participants were given a stipend of $500 in order to support fund-raising activities of any nature. all proceeds were to be donated to a charity of the participants’ choice. which went towards helping terminally ill children fulfill their last wishes to their contentment. I had also formed extremely strong bonds with the people I worked with throughout these six months. and dedication towards the cause I was working for. At the end of the activity. Before the program started.

people and directing them while supplying them with merchandise). If asked. and was more successful than I thought I would be. I also learned the great value of perseverance and. the value of friendships and how quickly and strongly they can be formed. My CIP experience left a deep impression and showed me that there is goodness in the most unexpected places. it motivates me in everything that I do. Some members of the public merely passed me by without so much as a second glance. even greater. . I can proudly say that I have indeed contributed meaningfully to my society through the Community Involvement Project. while others stopped by to chat and donated substantial and unexpected amounts of money. but was also humbled by having to perform the fund-raising activities myself as well. Even now. It was made even more precious because I spent so much time and effort in fulfilling the requirements of the project. and the memories of the good times that I spent on this project serve as a high point in my life thus far. I was touched by the degree of kindness and compassion displayed regularly by strangers on the street.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful