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Role of community leaders has become more vital: Grace Fu

SINGAPORE — The role of community leaders has become more important as the Government shifts towards supporting individuals through the community network, said the National Community Leadership Institute (NACLI) board chairperson Grace Fu.

SINGAPORE — The role of community leaders has become more important as the Government shifts towards supporting individuals through the community network, said the National Community Leadership Institute (NACLI) board chairperson Grace Fu.

It is, therefore, important that NACLI, which provides training to grassroots leaders, improves the capabilities and professionalism of community leaders, she added.

Speaking at NACLI’s 50th anniversary celebrations yesterday, Ms Fu said: “The Government has announced that we are going to deliver more help to individuals and, so, in (most) of our social service delivery, we need the community to be involved and it is only as effective as the community network that we can deliver government help to people.”

Citing the Pioneer Generation Package and MediShield Life as examples in which grassroots leaders have to explain the schemes’ benefits to residents, Ms Fu added: “Bringing it down to the community, making the case studies more relevant to them and also targeting the youth segment because we believe the youth have lots of energy and good ideas, and we need to harness that to supplement the network we have right now in the People’s Association.”

NACLI also has to work even harder and be more creative to remain relevant, as society becomes more complex and new challenges emerge, said Ms Fu.

Referring to traditional fault lines that Singapore has had to manage, such as those between races and religions, as well as the income gap and differences between locals and foreigners, she said: “These are fault lines that have appeared and they have not gone away. We need to recognise these fault lines and work to strengthen community building. So, building social capital has become more important than before.”

Ms Fu also noted that the proliferation of channels from which people get their news had enhanced certain challenges. Unlike in the past, when government messages were communicated through mass-media platforms such as the television or radio, there are more new platforms to tackle now, she said. Accordingly, the training given to community leaders has to adapt.

“The role is the same, except for the way we’re doing it. The delivery platform, the way we’re going to conduct the classes, the way we’re structuring the course modules will have to evolve because education levels have increased over the years,” said Ms Fu. “So we also have to, in a way, target the right segment, making the course relevant to them.”

Ms Fu added that NACLI plans to tap the youth for more ideas, as well as make training more accessible.

To improve accessibility, the institute started operating from its second campus at East Coast Park last month. This is expected to help provide more impactful development programmes in both indoor and outdoor settings, as well as allow those in the eastern part of Singapore greater accessibility.

NACLI is also developing e-learning and blended learning approaches for its courses and programmes. More than 650,000 people have been trained at the institute over the past five decades. CHANNEL NEWSASIA

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