Moving forward together: New CEO of SINDA

It has been almost 25 years since SINDA's inception and the mission to build resilient Indian families and to ensure that the community progresses in tandem with other Singaporean communities is as relevant as ever.

As the new CEO of SINDA, I have in the past year, witnessed the hard work that the staff and all our partners and volunteers have put into the various initiatives and programmes rolled out each week.

Educational initiatives

SINDA has been busy rolling out programmes and enhanced initiatives to the various stakeholders in Singa- pore's Indian community. Our wide-ranging programmes and services enrich students' lives - from pre-school to university - not only by complementing their education, but also focusing strongly on the holistic development of each student.

Indeed, our students have generally done well in school. The number of Indian students moving on to post-secondary from each cohort has risen steadily, from 85.1 per cent in 2004 to 91.7 per cent in 2013. We believe supportive home environment and the integral positive parental roles were key to their good performance and we are confident that they will become confident adults.

Although overall educational performance has improved, we must be mindful that the other communities are also doing better. We cannot afford to be content with our achievements; instead, we should benchmark ourselves against the national average. This will spur us on to greater success and better progress.

Of major concern are students who continue to lag behind despite our improved overall performance. SINDA has increased intervention towards such students, with both motivation and confidence-building programmes aimed at equipping them with the necessary skill sets and impetus to improve in school.

Engaging students

This involves bringing together key stakeholders - parents, teachers and schools - to better understand how to reach out to and impact the lives of students. This includes making affordable, quality educational programmes available to all students and infusing SINDA's youth activities and motivational elements into our educational offerings to keep engaging them.

These efforts are complemented by our family initiatives. SINDA is targeting parents to make them key influencers and champions of their children's academic endeavours. Certain parental styles greatly impact children, and in today's context it is not intuitive for parents to understand changing value systems and the day-to-day demands placed on their children. More dialogue and meaningful communication between parents and children become essential to establish better understanding. Through our interactive workshops, we aim to equip parents with the right tools and skills.

I am happy that SINDA is not alone in this endeavour - various partners, each with unique strengths and areas of expertise, have joined us as we work towards community benefit. From initiating projects to funding and volunteers, each brings value to the mix. With our partners' help, SINDA now runs pre-school enrichment classes focused on reading, writing and basic mathematics skills at over 40 decentralised venues islandwide, making it convenient for family members to take their pre-schoolers to a centre near them.

Rise in SINDA Fund

The SINDA Fund contribution rates were revised on Jan 1, 2015. The four original contribution bands were expanded to eight categories, taking into consideration the current and future expansion needs of SINDA as well as the profile of contributors. Those earning $4,500 and below are not affected by the change.

These changes were effected in the spirit of being a self-sustaining community that contributes towards its own growth and progress. We are heartened that most individuals continue their monthly contributions. Increased funds will allow SINDA to do more, while bringing about enhancements to our programmes.

While we do our utmost to benefit those who need help, I do realise that SINDA is not perfect. I extend an open invitation to our critics to join us in our mission to uplift the community. Rather than be a noisy problem, why not be part of the solution?

As we look to the future, we can be certain that challenges will always remain. We need to push even harder to tackle existing issues, while we work towards addressing newer concerns. I'm confident that if we stand together, support one another and work towards our goals, we can overcome any obstacle.

Let us not make excuses. By working in unison, we can soar as a community. Join me in engaging minds and transforming lives and moving our community forward, together.

K. Barathan is the chief executive officer of SINDA.

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