Sunday, April 20, 2008

10:01 PM

SIGs, second rate CCAs?

This article is for publishing on NYConneXions for both online and the print edition. But I decided to post it here ahead of time for the benefit of my readers. The roots of this article can be traced back to here. This was primarily written by Stanley and edited by me so I cannot claim all the credit.

The research of this article also reached the upper levels. To ensure a balanced view from the school authorities, elements from an email reply (in my previous post)from Mr William Yeo (Coordinator of NYJC SIGs) of my query is integrated into this article. Happy reading!

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Ex-minister of Education, Mr. Tharman Shanmugaratnam, gave his encouragement for students to set up self-managed activities within their schools in his 2004 speech.

Four years on, many such student-managed organisations have been initiated in various educational institutions around Singapore. Nanyang Junior College too has seen numerous Student-Interest Groups (SIGs) being set up, these includes the Floorball team, J-fire club as well as the new Joke Club.

However, there are concerns associated with these SIGs, the most prominent misconception is that they are second-rate activities set up by students and not worth joining as such as they are not “official” and thus less prestigious to. This due to the fact they are mainly autonomous and are largely managed by their student members. However, this view has no truth to it; these SIGs are in fact beneficial to their members as they are given an opportunity to independently manage their organizations independently, especially in the areas of finance and organisation of activities matters.

A greater level of commitment, discipline, enthusiasm and certainly, leadership is required to ensure the sustainability of these SIGs hence, the success of any SIG will speak immensely well of the students leading and managing it. Most importantly, these SIGs are indeed recognized by the school authorities and they are even given funding on a case-by-case basis as well as opportunities to showcase their activities to others.

However, two further problems have been plaguing these SIGs including the tedious application process of setting up their activities as well as getting funding for their organizations.

The first problem was the cited by both the presidents of Floorball and J-fire as the initial bugbear. They had to convince the school authorities that their SIGs were able to benefit its members through its activities and allowing them to pick up holistic values such as, Integrity, Resilience, Compassion, Resourcefulness and Teamwork. This had to be reflected through the paperwork. Eddy (Floorball Team Captain) had to explain in detail the rules of the game as well as the safety measures. Pauline (J-fire’s president) had to present extensive proposals on cosplay (Japanese costume dress-up) and anime/manga-related activities such as drawing competitions.

Funding is a more acute problem for SIGs as they do not have a steady flow allocated by the school. For instance each Floorball team member had to pay approximately 35 to 200 dollars for a personal Floorball Stick. On top of that, they had to fork out monthly coach fees from their own pocket.. This is certainly not a small sum for any school-going teenager. At the moment, both organizations are hoping to convert into official CCAs and they hope that increased steadier funding would be provided for their activities as they gain recognition in the school.

Despite the challenges, these SIGs have also won many accolades and have brought recognition to themselves; the most prominent of these would be the school’s Floorball team which is currently competing at the A’ division national level. The J-fire club has also been active in the Singapore Cosplay scene and has been working on a professional basis with the Singapore Cosplay organization and similar clubs at other junior colleges. Piano Ensemble too has entertained us in many college events such as Synergy and the College Day. They have also contributed to the community by performing at the Singapore General Hospital and Cancer Foundation.

Hopefully this article is able to shed greater light on these SIGs within the school. Like CCAs, SIGs have activities that are beyond academic pursuits while still being able to enhance the overall vibrancy of the school’s culture. They deserve our encouragement to further their works within and outside Nanyang JC. Certainly, without the initiative of the student members of these SIGs, NYJCians would be missing out on many alternative activities that CCAs might not be able to offer. For that, these SIGs deserve our kudos and support.

To set up SIGs, one can approach HOD for PE/CCA, Mrs. Koh Siew Leng or SIG Co-ordinator, Mr. William Yeo for advice and to obtain the application forms. Get 3 commited members and submit a proposal.

By: Stanley and Yeo Kheng Meng

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