19.05.2017

Address by Ms Indranee Thurai Rajah, President, SINDA, at the 27TH SINDA Annual General Meeting, on Friday, 19 May 2017 at SINDA Auditorium

 

Dear Members of SINDA,

I would like to take this opportunity to update members not just on SINDA programmes but on the progress of the Indian Community.

 

An Overview

Overall, the Indian community is progressing well.

• Median incomes of Indian households have risen steadily over the last 15 years

• Educational levels have also risen.

• The number of Indians with post-secondary and higher educational qualifications has risen over the same period, while those with only primary or below-secondary education has dropped.

The Ministry of Education’s (MOE) 10-year trend analysis shows that our students’ educational performance is on a clear upward trajectory and we are in a much better position than we were ten years ago.

However, the same report reflects that there is still a gap between the performance of Indian students and the national average in some subjects, in particular, Science and Maths.

Maths, not so bad because when we look at the PSLE results for the past five years, it has actually been steadily increasing but Science appears to be a problem. From what I understand, the problem lies in processing the question. It’s not they they do not understand the question but it’s processing it and being able to give the correct answer.

There is also room for improvement for a much better spread of our students across different secondary streams and post-secondary institutions, and across different disciplines, particularly the STEM-related courses.

There is also a need to acquire the right set of skills for the future economy.

 

Community Goals

Given this situation, in 2016 SINDA developed a set of community goals with a view to bridging these gaps. These are the goals and you can actually see that they track a person’s lifecycle:

• Better pre-school preparation
• Better quality PSLE passes
• Better spread across secondary streams
• More JC / Polytechnic enrolment
• Lower dropout rate from ITE
• More university enrolment and better spread across different discipline, including STEM-related course.
• Better skills and higher employability

Key Strategies

In 2016, SINDA formulated an ambitious work plan to achieve these particular goals.

The key strategies underlying our workplan are:-
• Having the right programmes
• Outreach and connecting the ones in need to the right help
• Building Trust and Community Support

The target group really are the families with low Per Capita Income (PCI) because data again shows that those from poor socio-economic backgrounds are typically the ones who don’t do so well. And of course, average and low performing students. There is a high correlation between average and low performing students and those with families of low PCI.

PROGRAMMES

Pre-school

Given the importance of early childhood education, we are putting a lot of effort into our pre-school Literacy & Numeracy programme (LYNN). This is a SINDA pre-school enrichment programme that focuses on literacy and numeracy for pre-schoolers, to provide them with a good foundation in preparation for primary school.

In 2016, SINDA worked with community partners to get increased participation in LYNN programme.We have been steadily expanding that and trying to get more Indian children into this programme to supplement their pre-school education. Basically the way it works that you need to have a minimum of five students. Then, we find a venue in the constituency – whether the community centre, at the void deck or somewhere in the community and then we provide the programme.

Primary and Secondary

• Our STEP and Project Teach tutorials continue to provide students with high quality but affordable tuition.

• We also introduced reward schemes for sustained attendance and peer referral which has seen good traction.

Student Care Centres (SCCs)

Last year also saw the start of a collaboration between SINDA, CDAC and Mendaki to run after-school Student Care Centres, or SCCs, at selected schools. The idea of having SSCs is to give them a place where they can go, get tuition if need be and have a safe environment of teachers and mentors working with them.

• The Big Heart SCC Project was introduced in 10 schools.

• This initiative provides students who are unable to go home immediately after school with a conducive and supportive environment.

• More such SCCs are planned.

Career Counselling

Members of SINDA’s Indian Business-leaders’ Roundtable (IBR) have been conducting career counselling talks for STEP students. This has been well-received. This initiative was also presented to MOE, which lauded IBR for its good work.

Nurturing Youth

The Youth Division and SINDA Youth Club have been working on youth mentoring and leadership programmes.

As part of youth outreach, SINDA’s first youth carnival provided a platform for some 500 youth to network and showcase their talents in sports, music and dance.

Families

Direct support for families increased in 2016, with the SINDA Family Service Centre providing assistance and financial aid to 6,000 individuals. Over 400 families were case-managed by our social workers.

We will also be putting a lot of emphasis this year, on parenting programmes.

Recognising Excellence

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was Guest-of-Honour at the SINDA Excellence Awards 2016, which saw the largest-ever cohort of Indian students – 467 recipients – recognised for excellence in academic performance, sports and the arts.

Outreach A Key Strategy

Simply having these programmes though, is not enough. It is important that the intended beneficiaries avail themselves of the assistance that is available.

We have found that even though the programmes are there, many in the target profile do not sign up or come for the programme.

In 2016, SINDA—together with grassroots leaders and the Indian Activity Executive Committees (IAECs)—piloted an outreach programme, going door-to-door to Indian households in rental flats at Tanjong Pagar-Tiong Bahru, Henderson-Dawson and Radin Mas to better understand why this was the case.

The pilot was instructive. The main reasons why Indian families do not avail themselves of the programme or other assistance are as follow and I’m sure these reasons will not be a surprise to some of you:

• Lack of awareness of SINDA programmes
• Families overwhelmed with other problems / issues
• Parents have little time – unable to bring children to tuition or other programme
• Poor Parenting Skills / parents have little knowledge about how to help their children
• Sense of “it’s my fate”
• Concern about “face” – leading to unwillingness to ask for help

Arising from this, SINDA has devised a new strategy for outreach. Rather than the traditional modes of mass publicity or having people come to SINDA, in 2016 we worked out a new, good quality outreach to the heartland and to communities who can connect us with the target profile. We also need to build trust because we can’t just go into someone’s house and say we have all the answers for them. Connecting them to the right help does not only mean SINDA programmes. There are many national programmes which are available to assist them so connecting them with the right help also refers to connecting them to the correct national programmes.

To do all of this though, we will need a massive volunteer effort. Volunteers and partners are an important part of this effort.

We will therefore be putting significantly increased efforts this year with volunteer recruitment, volunteer management and volunteer training.

Moving Forward

We believe that the gaps can be bridged. This is an exciting and worthwhile endeavour. This is our new model – where we will focus on outreach to the various segments of the Indian community. And we hope to be able to do it with all of our community partners. It is for this reason, our theme is “Moving Forward Together”.

Thank you very much.

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