Ms Grace Fu, Senior Minister of State for Information, Communications & the Arts and for the Environment & Water Resources;
Professor Cham Tao Soon, Chancellor and Chairman, SIM University;
Mr Yam Ah Mee, Chief Executive Director, People's Association of Singapore;
Ladies and gentlemen.
- Good morning. My colleagues and I at SIM University (or UniSIM) are pleased that our University and the People’s Association are joining forces to offer the Master of Community Leadership and Social Development programme.
Context for UniSIM's programme
- In his October 2011 speech for the new term of Parliament, Prime Minister Lee shared that it would be necessary for the government to be more open with the electorate, engage citizens, provide more space for civil society, communicate better with Singaporeans, and strengthen "digital judgement" while connecting with citizens online.
- These initiatives, and PM Lee's exhortation for "an inclusive society that leaves no one behind" draw attention to how Singapore's social, economic, cultural and political landscape has changed over the years. Our society is increasingly pluralistic, complex and changeable. An in-depth knowledge of the diverse sectors of our society and their different experiences and perspectives of the development process is required to realise this vision of an inclusive society.
Provisions of programme
- It is, hence, timely for us to introduce the Master of Community Leadership and Social Development programme. Why these two themes? Well, the 'doing' of social development brings high-level conceptualisations to the ground where the social impact is felt. But, effective community leadership is needed to drive and lead social development. One cannot thrive without the other, but the combination is powerful.
- This programme will thus emphasise the knowledge and skills required for sound leadership, and an in-depth and sophisticated understanding of the factors that impact how our society develops. The programme will help community leaders reach out for better social development and equip them with the tools for, and understanding of, the decision-making process in community planning and development. Having such a network of graduates should strengthen the community's capacity to identify opportunities and address crises in innovative ways.
- The programme is benchmarked to international standards and will be taught by an inter-disciplinary team of experienced academics and professionals. While academically rigorous, it will focus on practice and application. To reinforce the latter, I call on the veterans and present leaders in community service to join us in spawning the next generation of like-spirited community leaders. There is much knowledge and experience locked up in the hearts and minds of these stalwarts, and unless this is shared, systematically organised, and transferred to the latter, it will be a sad loss to the community and to Singapore.
- Graduates from this Masters programme will be able to assume community leadership roles with strong organisational capabilities for sustainable social development in various occupations. Mid-career executives will be able to add value to their practice with this specialised qualification, or have the opportunity for a change to a rewarding career in the community development sector. I am glad that the programme has got off to a good start with a pledge of student support from the PA.
- As the only Singapore university dedicated to adult learners, UniSIM offers a wide spectrum of programmes, and uses a pedagogy, that provide working professionals with the opportunity to upgrade their skills and knowledge, without disrupting or compromising their work responsibilities. Among the disciplines in our stable that can contribute to knowledge for community leaders are psychology, sociology, social work, counselling, human resources management, gerontology, early childhood education and so on.
- Our collaboration with the People’s Association, through its National Community Leadership Institute (NACLI), underscores both parties' commitment to serve society and work towards a better Singapore. The PA has a long and high-impact history of serving the community, promoting active citizenry and building community spirit and belonging. It has a wealth of knowledge and connections. There is no better partner to build this programme with. PA's service values complement those of UniSIM, namely, the Spirit of Learning; Passion for Excellence; Integrity; Respect and Trust for the Individual; Innovation; and Teamwork. We hold these values close to our hearts as they form the foundation on which we perform our work and conduct ourselves. But these values also apply to community building, and are in fact embedded in the programme curriculum. We hope our graduates from the programme will work and live by them, and in the process, build a better community.
- I would like to thank the People's Association, NACLI, and NACLI's Board Chairperson, Ms Grace Fu for their strong support and contribution towards the conceptualisation of this programme.
- I would also like to express my gratitude to the National Council of Social Services and the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports with whom we have worked extremely closely with.
- SIM University is privileged to have your partnership.
- Thank you.