Over half a century, about 600,000 participants - including students, civil servants and grassroots leaders - have passed through the doors of the National Community Leadership Institute (Nacli), the leadership training arm of the People's Association (PA). The institute celebrates its 50th anniversary this year and, in its next step to help grassroots leaders better serve their residents, will take its training programmes closer to participants.
Nacli, which had four other names in its history, will conduct some courses at the constituencies so that grassroots leaders need not always go to the Nacli campus in Buona Vista.
The institute started doing so at 16 constituencies last year, and aims to extend this to all 87 of these by the middle of next year. It trains a total of about 35,000 participants each year.
This is a "very important shift" as trainees "learn on the ground" and can apply what they learn immediately, said Mr Ang Hak Seng, PA chief executive director, at an event to mark the institute's golden jubilee yesterday.
It will also customise some courses to help grassroots leaders better serve residents, whose needs may differ according to demographics and housing types for example, he added.
Launching a heritage wall at the event, Nacli board deputy chairman Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim also flagged off about 200 grassroots volunteers and PA staff, who tried out a new heritage trail from the Nacli campus in Buona Vista to Telok Blangah. The wall and the trail are meant to showcase the institute's milestones since it was set up on Oct 5, 1964 (see box).
Mr Low Foo Yong, 75, who joined Nacli as a trainer in 1965, recalled going through obstacle courses and overnight hikes as well as lifting logs.
"This tough training made (participants) physically fit and taught them teamwork," he said, adding that they are important skills in serving the community.