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Ms Indranee Rajah
Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Finance & Ministry of Law

The continued progress of a community is in the hands of its people. When we put aside our selfinterests and work together for the common good, putting others before self, we create a brighter collective future; one in which every member of the community thrives and can lead a fruitful life.

To benefit the Indian community, Senior Minister of State and SINDA President, Ms Indranee Rajah, recently unveiled SINDA’s strategies and shared key goals that the community must work towards, so that we and our future generations can stride confidently in a changing global landscape. Below is an excerpt of her speech:

The Indian Community

The Indian community in Singapore has been a resilient and forward looking community, making steady progress over the years even as a minority group. Within this community lie a number of sub-ethnic and language groups, each with its own culture and traditions, and when we look at progress of the Indian community, we want every single one of these groups to flourish and prosper. We need to consider ourselves as one Indian community and actively work towards helping those in need and ensuring that no one is left behind.

The Indian community has shown progress—the percentage of Indians with only post-secondary qualifications and below has dropped. Instead, in the last 15 years, we have seen a sharp increase in those with diplomas and degrees, from 3.1% to 14.5% and 16.5% to 40%, respectively. More of our people are attaining better qualifications and this means greater career prospects. This may also have been a contributing factor in the rise of Indian households’ median income: from $3,805 in 2000 to $8,443 in 2015.

There are about 113,000 households in our community. With those living in 4-room flats and below having decreased, we see a corresponding increase in Indians living in condominium and other such apartments. However, of concern is the bottom 20% of Indian households—about 20,400—that are earning a monthly income of $1,000 or less. We want to focus on this group. Together with SINDA, the Indian community as a whole must help them fare better and improve their socio-economic status. The key to this is improving educational performance.

Educational Performance of Indian Students

In the past 15 years, our Indian students have made stable and significant progress in the educational arena. However, together with us, the other races have also improved, leaving a gap in important areas that we must catch up on. We must strive for better overall performance, especially in core subjects such as Mathematics and Science. These core subjects are important, regardless of the career path one wishes to pursue.

Based on the Ministry of Education’s educational performance indicators released each year, we see that, there has been improvement in our students’ educational performance in the last decade. Overall, we are doing well in English and Mother Tongue and one par with the national average in terms of qualifying for the next level of study. However, we do not have a similar grasp in Mathematics and Science and this affects the quality of the PSLE passes. As these are also foundation subjects, the continued weak performance is affecting the performance at the O-Level and subsequent stages.

It is important that we reverse this trend. If we do not improve our performance at Mathematics and Science, we will not have access to the best jobs and opportunities and we will not thrive in the future economy—an economy that is very much based on the concept of a SMART Nation, in which digital technology, computerisation and coding (all dependent on one’s understanding of Mathematics and Science are emerging as key sectors.

Community Goals

The responsibility of improving the community falls upon each one of us. We are looking at improving the educational performance of students in the bottom 20% of households—about 23,715 students aged between 7 to 25 years—and it is no small task. It requires an ‘‘all hands on deck” approach, with each one contributing in his/her own way. To do this, we at SINDA have devised key community goals that we must all work towards:

1. Increased pre-school participation
2. Better quality PSLE passes
3. Better spread across secondary-level streams
4. Greater enrolment in junior colleges and polytechnics
5. Lower drop-out rate from ITE
6. More university enrolments and better spread across different disciplines, including Sciences and Engineering
7. Better job prospects and more employment

These are broad goals with specific strategies and programmes set for each. We need the help of the Indian community—both organisations as well as individuals—to make these a reality, as SINDA cannot be the universal service provider. While SINDA functions as a catalyst, the betterment of our people must be driven as a community effort, with Indians helping fellow Indians.

The goals we have set for us are not difficult to reach. With determination, passion and the community’s collective efforts, we can achieve even greater success. We may be a small community, but we must be an exceptional community, filled with high -achievers. And the only ones who can make it happen, is us.

Do Your Part for the Indian Community!

Whether you are an organisation, business or individual, there is always an opportunity that’s right for you! Join us in our efforts for the betterment of the Indian community:

Referrals – If you know of someone who is in need of assistance, or if you are an organisation already helping students in need, refer them to SINDA. On combined efforts will benefit students even more!
Resources – SINDA runs island wide programmes for students, youth and families. Share your resources with us so that we are able to reach out to our people better!
Raising Awareness – Help us spread word to your members and constituents. In addition, your events and programmes can be useful platforms for SINDA staff to meet with and share our initiatives with people from all walks of life.
Volunteering – Volunteers play a key role in many of our programmes and we are more than happy to have you and your organisation contribute towards our initiatives and touch the lives of thousands.

Photo and Information: SINDA

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