Service Learning is one of the core pillars of learning at SJI International and we strive to provide opportunities for every student, from grades 7 to 12, to engage in community meaningfully in order to deepen their understanding of local issues, make connections to global issues, and to develop skills that will equip them to be positive contributors to societies in the future.
The five stages of Service-learning (investigation, planning, action, reflection and demonstration) are used to guide students as they strive to take positive action in collaboration with NGOs, charities and organisations across Singapore and South East Asia. By the time students become IB CAS (Creativity, Activity and Service) students in grade 11, they are therefore familiar with the process of Service-Learning (as it is synonymous with the CAS stages) and are able to make informed decisions about projects they choose to join or initiate themselves. Action can either be direct service (face to face interaction with beneficiaries), indirect service (donation drives, planning and running events in agreement with the beneficiary), advocacy (raising awareness, promoting causes) or action research (data collection, surveying etc.) and students are reminded that all action should be informed, and all needs should be authenticated.
In grade 7, all students are engaged in service-learning rooted in curriculum and participate in the Safe Water Garden initiative, a life-saving sanitation project driven by Loola on Bintan Island, Indonesia.
Grade 8 students are encouraged to continue to develop their awareness of grassroots solutions addressing the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by initiating their own on-campus environmental projects. They also support one of our local partners, Touch Homecare Services, by delivering meals to the elderly and frail in neighbouring communities.
Grade 9 and 10 students engage in service work with local partners on a weekly basis (which range from NLB literacy programmes to homes for the elderly, animal shelters to vocational training centres). Regardless of the nature of the service project, all students are required to actively participate and show initiative in weekly service sessions. Some choose to commit to programmes during the weekends and holidays too.
As IB CAS students in Grades 11 and 12, all students are required to design their own experiential learning programme and as part of that, are expected to commit to Service experiences and projects for the duration of their time studying in the IB Diploma. As part of this programme, all grade 11 students participate in Challenge Week during the October break. They travel in groups of 8-10 with a project of their choosing in the region. Students are encouraged to select their Challenge Week project based on what matters to them, global issues they would like to explore, and the communities they are keen to learn more about.
We currently have 25 established Challenge Week partners. The preparation for Challenge Week is rigorous and guided. It is framed by the five CAS (service learning) stages and driven by the eight CAS learner outcomes (ranging from engaging with issues of global significance to demonstrating the skills and recognising the benefits of working collaboratively.
Student voice and choice is valued at each grade level and students are encouraged to engage in projects in addition to the expectations set by the school. Systems in place are designed to support student-initiated action and a student-led service council are actively involved in decision-making and mentoring of individuals and interest groups throughout the school year.