“Social Change (SoCh) encourages children between the ages of nine and fourteen to address social problems and promote change” (Never Too Young To Make A Difference, Miss Josephine Price).
The assortment of social initiatives that has been organised and coordinated by non-profit organisation Social Change (SoCh) in Action – as expounded in the news report “Never Too Young To Make A Difference” (November 11, 2011) by Miss Josephine Price – would certainly yield tangible benefits for its young participants. It is important for students to recognise their corresponding roles and responsibilities as stakeholders in the community from a young age; however, it is imperative for emphasis to be given to the follow-up reflection processes, and attention to be shown on the projects’ sustainability.
Are Students Going Through The Motion?
A key worry that many educators and parents have highlighted is the proposition that students are blindly going through the motion, especially when the individuals are part of a bigger group. Under these circumstances, it is necessary for the teachers and organisers to design reflection exercises – such as the microscope-mirror-binoculars framework – for students to make sense of their experiences. Sharing sessions are a great way to find out how they have processed their interactions with different people and events; after all, process appreciation is more essential than pedantic concentrations upon end-results.
Issues such as root motivations and intrinsic purposes should be addressed; increasingly, it has been observed that students at the higher levels perceive volunteerism and community service pragmatically. They see these aforementioned endeavours or projects as convenient avenues to boost their portfolios and curriculum vitae, instead of comprehending genuine socio-economic challenges or scenarios that are present in the neighbourhoods. Guided by the key performance indicators established for the purpose of recording accomplishments, students lose sight of objectives and potential takeaways.
Can We Increase Volunteerism’s Sustainability?
It then comes as little surprise that the level of enthusiasm and participation evidenced in schools and education institutions are not actively echoed when the graduates enter the workplace. Granted, heightened commitment in terms of family, finances, work pressures et cetera make it more challenging for Singaporeans to dedicate time and efforts in respective organisations; still, a sense of strong citizenship and attachment to voluntary activities are crucial traits that should be consistently inculcated.
The National Volunteer and Philanthropy (NVPC) should introduce new measures to render volunteerism and philanthropy more accessible to young working professionals. These changes can include online portals to increase publicity for various opportunities, encouraging households to sign up collectively, as well as continuing school projects – and making them sustainable – through mentorship schemes or participation exercises.
Ultimately, students and participants of community activities in schools should be cognisant that their commitment to the country starts from young and lasts a lifetime. It would be a tremendous pity if interests, awareness and a good sense of altruism are built up in school, but unfortunately diminished in the long run.
A version of this article was published in My Paper.