A kinder, gentler Singapore - the CIP way in schools
SINCE 2008, all secondary and pre-university students upon completion of the O and A levels have been eligible to get a comprehensive school testimonial called the School Graduation Certificate. The Ministry of Education (MOE)-awarded testimonial includes a description of each student’s academic and non-academic achievements and personal qualities.
The non-academic achievements also refer to a student's extent of participation in volunteering and service to the community through key MOE programmes implemented in schools.
Community Involvement Programme (CIP) and Service Learning
CIP and Service Learning activities aim to nurture in students social responsibility and to develop a sense of belonging and commitment to the nation. Community work also teaches students the value of service and help in the development of lasting friendships. Through Service Learning, students identify with the needs of the community. Their community work develops their appreciation of the issues involved in community building.
Each school can decide how best to promote community involvement in their students appropriate to their age levels. Activities need not be confined to helping welfare institutions, and can entail 'adoption' of community projects and facilities like cleaning up a park or enlivening the nearby neighbourhood with murals like what Nanyang JC has done with the Serangoon Avenue 2 neighbourhood blocks.
Recently, students from one neighbourhood school were seen at a coffeeshop enacting a short skit to illustrate the point that cleanliness in public places is everybody's responsibility, not just that of the contracted cleaners.
Since its implementation in schools from 1998, each student has to fulfill at least six hours of community involvement a year.
Impact on academic aggregates
Accumulated CIP service points can help a student to get to a school or course of choice by lowering the aggregate by a maximum of 2 points. As one student commented in a forum post, this "could mean a lot when you are considering cut-offs for JC."
A student who has put in at least 100 CIP hours can attain the maximum of 5 CIP service points. But as another student forum post put it, there is "nothing to stop one from doing more which helps to develop character and 'heartware'."
When best to earn CIP points
Acknowledging the limited bandwidth of upper secondary students who are increasingly focused on O Level examinations, parents might want to encourage their children to work harder at its accumulation in the lower secondary years ie in Secondary 1 and 2. This is because as they transit to upper secondary, their attention will increasingly turn to the academic work of preparing for the national examination.
Check out how some schools implement the CIP through their own unique ways that combine both internal school activities and external programmes. For the latter, students can obtain from their school a list of the latest approved institutions to engage in community service.
Next week: CIP and nation building