SINGAPORE: Acting Minister for Social and Family Development, Chan Chun Sing, said Singapore will face more challenges as it moves towards its next stage of development.
While national leaders will look at issues from a broader perspective, Mr Chan said local community leadership is also needed.
He was speaking at the first Chua Thian Poh Community Leadership Symposium which was held at the National University of Singapore on Friday.
Some 80 students are currently enrolled in the Chua Thian Poh Community Leadership Programme.
Mr Chan said such platforms and the presence of community leaders are important as they have always been a part of Singapore’s rich history.
Mr Chan said the role of community leaders was evident from British colonial rule.
He said, "They did not wait for the government to initiate things to do. They took it upon themselves to identify local needs, whereby they can play a useful role".
Going forward, Mr Chan said it will be about grooming a new generation of community leaders.
He said: "Not only do we hope you will understand the challenges at the local level, we also hope that you will come up with innovative solutions. We also hope you will play a part to mobilise actions to solve or at least address some of these local issues.
"We need to look for innovative and new solutions. We cannot just adopt solutions that have been adopted by people from other countries wholesale. We should look at them closely, study them in context, and always apply them in context to our local situation down here."
At the symposium, six of the Programme’s Fellows got to share the various projects they embarked on.
The projects ranged from looking at the community’s role in preventing child abuse, to exploring interim home care at a community hospital.
The speakers are part of the first batch of students in the programme since it was launched in 2011.
For medical student Andrew Arjun Sayampanathan, who is currently on an internship at the Central Community Development Centre as part of the Chua Thian Poh Community Leadership Programme, it was the perfect opportunity to test a theory he had learned in university.
Applying it to Kampong Glam residents, the asset—based community development model was a means to empower needy or elderly residents to look at their proficiencies.
It was a different take on the needs—based community development model many social organisations adopt.
"The needs—based model looks at the deficiencies of individuals and what is the individual deficient in. When we look at the assets—based community development model, we see what the individual is proficient in so he or she does not need to be dependent on an external organisation," explained Andrew.
Andrew said the findings obtained from the asset—based community development models will allow them to create independent communities based on the proficiencies and assets of the individuals.
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