NUS launched the Chua Thian Poh Community Leadership Centre (CTPCLC) at NUS University Town in the presence of Guest-of-Honour Mr Teo Chee Hean, Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security on 20 November.
The Centre aims to become a focal point for community development activities on campus. It will also promote greater interaction and collaboration among NUS students, alumni, social service organisations as well as other stakeholders through discussions, research on social and community issues and community development workshops.
In 2011, Mr Chua Thian Poh, Chairman and CEO of Ho Bee Land Limited, had presented NUS with a gift of $5 million to establish the Chua Thian Poh Community Leadership Programme (CTPCLP) with the aim of building up a new generation of community leaders for the nation. To date, about 115 students (known as CTPCLP fellows) have completed the programme.
In his speech, Mr Teo said that the Centre was an important initiative for community leadership development in Singapore. “Many graduates [of the programme] have partnered social service organisations to create social programmes and interventions that have made a positive impact on the lives of many Singaporeans and families,” he said.
In his welcome address, NUS Provost Professor Tan Eng Chye highlighted the need for active citizenry to build up, contribute and support one another in the communities they belong to, saying, “To mobilise communities to come together to address social issues, we need community leaders who are driven by a passion to serve the community.” He added that the Programme has allowed NUS undergraduates across faculties to partner close to 100 social service organisations to “research on social and community issues, develop innovative solutions and measure the impact of their social interventions”.
At the launch, Mr Chua presented NUS with a second philanthropic gift of $5 million. He was heartened to note that many CTPCLP fellows went on to work in non-profit organisations and voluntary welfare organisations after they graduated, while others continued to volunteer their time with such institutions. “I was also told that graduates of the programme continue to support the initiatives they started and provide mentorship to current undergraduates. This is a strong testimony to the success of the programme,” he explained.
Mr Chua’s most recent gift will help scale up the Programme. The Centre will double its current annual intake of some 40 students to 80 students in the years ahead. Two new modules — one focusing on engaging and building communities, and the other a field research-based module on community development — would be introduced from 2018 to provide participants with a robust academic foundation as well as complementary practical experience.
Year 4 NUS Arts and Social Sciences student Michelle Wang, who completed the programme in her second year at NUS, was part of a project team that examined the life experiences of people with disabilities. Her participation in the programme has enabled her to look at the world differently. Sharing her insights from working with vulnerable communities, she said, “I think a key learning point is looking at people based on their strengths, rather than their needs.”
More than 120 NUS faculty, community leaders and prominent personalities in the corporate world attended the launch. In attendance were also Mr Sam Tan, Minister of State at Prime Minister’s Office, Ministry of Manpower and Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and Mr Hsieh Fu Hua, NUS Chairman.