School Holidays Well Spent Learning New Skills and Helping the Disabled

Singapore, 22 July 2002 – 14 Secondary Two students of Hai Sing Catholic take turns to come to The Society for the Physically Disabled (SPD) every week to refurbish used computers for distribution to the needy disabled. This initiative by the students is on top of the required Community Involvement Programme implemented by the Ministry of Education.

This initiative is a follow-up action by the students after they had registered themselves as e-ambassadors to help out at the National Information Technology Literacy Programme (NITLP) during the school holidays last December. Both the e-ambassadors and NITLP are programmes of the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) to promote computer literacy amongst Singaporeans.

The students thoroughly enjoyed their e-ambassador volunteer stint in the NITLP and proposed to continue their volunteering effort with a similar programme. Thus, the teacher-in-charge, Mr Tan Hee Lam, recommended that the students help SPD to refurbish computers for distribution to the needy disabled. These students then spent a total of 21 hours at Comat Training Services during the December and June school holidays to learn computer software and hardware skills, such as learning where to slot the sound card on the motherboard and reformatting the hard disk. With this training, they are able to fulfill their roles in the PC Reuse Scheme.

Mr Tan Hee Lam, the teacher-in-charge of the programme, says ‘When the students requested for a continued programme after their NITLP stint, I thought of the PC Reuse Scheme as it allows my students to be exposed to skills that will help them in their continuing education at the Institute for Technical Education (ITE) and at the same time benefit the needy disabled.’

The Principal of Hai Sing Catholic, Mdm Lee Poe Kim, says, ‘I am glad to see such altruism in my students’ volunteering to help The Society for the Physically Disabled. The Normal Technical students, just like other students, are just as capable in caring for the less fortunate. We are very proud that our Normal Technical students have taken the lead in volunteering in the school.’

When asked why the students have such enthusiasm to help the less fortunate, one of the student volunteers, Eunice Yeo, says, ‘As a student, I don’t have much money to donate to charity. I am happy that I can contribute my time and skills to help the less fortunate. That’s why I signed up for the e-ambassador NITLP scheme and the PC Reuse Scheme’

The Society for the Physically Disabled places a lot of emphasis on IT training for the disabled. To date, SPD has trained 200 persons with physical disabilities in NITLP and Microsoft office skills and has distributed 120 refurbished PCs to the needy disabled. The PC Reuse Scheme is one of the many programmes run by the SPD Assistive Technology Centre (ATC). One of the objectives of the ATC is to train and recommend assistive devices that can enable the disabled to use computers as efficiently as the able-bodied persons. SPD ATC which started operation last August will be officially launched in early 2003.