SINDA charts its way ahead

SINGAPORE - The Singapore Indian Development Association (SINDA) held two important events last week.

On Aug 17, it held its Community Forum at Bukit Panjang Community Club. The forum is for the community self-help group to re-assess and refresh its strategies following its SINDA 2020 review in 2011, which was on the challenges faced by the Indian community, and recommended SINDA's action plans for the next 10 years.

The 31/2-hour session saw over 200 community leaders from partner organisations, Indian religious groups and grassroots organisations meeting to discuss newer ways of reaching the community effectively and finding ways of working together with SINDA to achieve this.

In his speech, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Finance and SINDA chairman Tharman Shanmugaratnam, who was the guest of honour, praised the group's efforts.

He said: "We know we are reaching out to more students, although there is always more to be done. We are reaching out to the families, and noticeably to the fathers as well, which is quite commendable.

"Some of the programmes are in fact breaking new ground with students and on the social side. Especially the single mothers' programme, one of the most successful programmes in Singapore.

"I believe very strongly that community effort is critical for a better Singapore. Even before kids reach primary or secondary school levels, some of their performances may be falling behind and can continue to fall behind. This is where aggressive help from the community comes in place to help them catch up with the early slowdown which they might face due to several reasons."

Three days earlier, on Aug 14, SINDA held its Formal STEP Centre Visit 2013 at East View Secondary School which was attended by 60 parents and 40 primary and secondary children.

Mr Tharman and SINDA's board members visited classrooms where the STEP tuition classes were conducted to witness the reach and effectiveness of STEP tuition classes for Indian students.

The classroom visits were followed by a panel discussion with parents. The panel consisted of Mr Tharman, SINDA's board members, directors, CEO Raja Segar, and STEP Centre principal and tutors.

Mr Mohamed Amin, 37, father of two primary schoolchildren, asked: "How are we going to address the new generation of children using digital media for their education? Can we store all the study materials online so that anyone missing these classes on a particular day can still download the materials?"

In response, the panel explained that SINDA currently runs a School Website, which provides study materials for download. Mr Raja Segar added that e-learning initiatives have already been started for these tuition programmes.

The current portal, which tutors and students are accessing, has a lot of information on each of the topics being covered and more work is being done to make this portal as interactive as possible.

Said Mr Tharman: "We are trying not to replicate what is done in school and that is very important. Some of the children are easily put off by maths when they face difficulties solving problems. And it is important to boost their confidence and help them scale their mental hurdles. We are still on the journey of accomplishing success."

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