Opening address by Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Education and Law, Ms Sim Ann, at the launch of Project Schools
16 Jul 2012 Posted in Speeches
Associate Professor Ho Peng Kee, Chairman, Pro Bono Promotion Committee,
Mr Foo Chee Hock, Registrar, Supreme Court,
Mr Wong Meng Meng, President, Law Society,
Mr Lee Eng Beng, Managing Partner, Rajah & Tann,
Principals, educators and students,
- Good afternoon. Let me first express my sincere appreciation to all of you gathered here to support the launch of Project Schools, an initiative of the Law Society of Singapore that is sponsored by the Rajah & Tann Foundation. Project Schools is also supported by many law firms and lawyers in Singapore, on a pro bono basis.
- Law is an integral part of our lives, and having some basic practical legal understanding will help us in various aspects of our lives. One of the key purposes of the Law Society of Singapore is to protect and assist the public in Singapore in all matters relating to the law. To this end, the Law Society has always worked to educate, promote and facilitate greater awareness and understanding of the law in the community through talks, exhibitions and legal clinics. Over time, these measures have evolved into a broader programme of partnership with community organisations and educational institutions.
- These initiatives have been, and continue to be valuable in reaching out to the wider community. However, it has gradually become clear that a more targeted and self-sustaining approach to creating legal awareness is also required. Arguably, there is no better, more sustainable way of doing this than to cultivate this awareness among our youth. This is where Project Schools comes in.
Aims of Project Schools
- Project Schools has three main aims:
- Firstly, to create awareness of the law among secondary school students to prepare them for adulthood and all the responsibilities that will entail;
- Next, to alert students to situations in which they may unwittingly break the law, and how they can be of assistance to loved ones and friends involved in similar situations; and
- Lastly, to cultivate an interest in the legal profession and the law.
Project Schools’ Innovative Approach
- Unlike other legal awareness programmes, Project Schools adopts an innovative approach whereby teachers, instead of lawyers, are the ones who impart an understanding of various aspects of the law to students aged 14 and above. Lessons cover a range of legal issues in contemporary situations which students can identify easily with. These lessons can be included in a school’s Civics and Moral Education or stand alone as thematic workshops which form part of the schools’ activities.
- Though the topics in Project Schools are not part of the regular school curriculum, the programme features real-life and youth-centric issues that may affect our youth, people whom they students know and the community they live in. Topics like “Cyber Offences” and “Know the Law” are particularly relevant in today’s highly technology-savvy society. Knowing one’s legal rights and obligations under the law will help our youth make better choices.
- To be able to engage our students in class, the design and development of the curriculum and learning materials are key. To bring this concept to reality, volunteer lawyers, law students from the National University of Singapore and the Singapore Management University and experienced teachers, along with the Pro Bono Services Office, devoted many hours of hard work in the past year to prepare the teaching materials.
- Our dedicated volunteers would be pleased to know that by year end, in a short span of just six months, Project Schools would have impacted about 4,000 students from 14 different schools. I believe the number will rise further as more schools recognise the importance of such lessons for their students.
Project Schools’ Impact
- Project Schools marks a new chapter in the Law Society’s history of creating and heightening awareness of the law. This programme is expected to have a multiplier effect within our community. By alerting our students to day-to-day situations in which they may unwittingly break the law, and how they can be of assistance to loved ones and friends, the positive impact will be felt not just by the students and teachers, but also the community that they live in.
- The principals, teachers and students from Xinmin Secondary School and Yishun Town Secondary School who were involved in the pilot programme gained useful insights and will be sharing their experiences with you in the video that will be played shortly.
- Before I conclude, I would like to express my heartfelt thanks and appreciation for everyone involved in Project Schools, for your willingness, effort and dedication in going beyond the call of duty in making this programme a reality. I offer you my very best wishes for the continued success of Project Schools.
- Thank you.
Last updated on 25 Nov 2012