Student patrols with police as part of after-school scheme
Instead of attending more lessons, the after-school programmes at Kent Ridge Secondary School (KRSS) range from cooking classes to patrolling with police officers around the neighbourhood.
As a participant of after-school programme YouthCop, Secondary 4 student Saffareeszan Ghaniman Abdullah has gone on patrol with the Singapore Police Force and shared advice on crime prevention with members of the public at community events.
This is just one of the after-school programmes introduced by the school to help at-risk youth, many of whom come from disadvantaged families and suffer from irregular school attendance.
Second Minister for Education Indranee Rajah said on March 5 that 120 secondary schools will offer after-school engagement programmes by next year, up from 60 now.
This is part of the efforts of the eight-member task force Uplift (Uplifting Pupils in Life and Inspiring Families Taskforce), which she heads.
When Saffareeszan was young, he was primarily cared for by his grandmother, and his parents were not by his side when he was growing up.
He told The New Paper: "I was shuttling between my grandmother's and my aunt's homes. I did not feel a sense of belonging to anyone and anywhere, and would often question myself about my purpose in life. I didn't like going home because there were always a lot of arguments at home."
Saffareeszan was also often late for school and was identified for YouthCop in Sec 1, which was initiated in 2009.
He said: "I used to have anger management issues but after joining YouthCop, I learnt that every action comes with consequences. That has reminded me to think before I act."
Saffareeszan will be taking his N levels this year and plans to study nursing at the Institute of Technical Education.
KRSS has also designed other programmes, such as StarChef, a weekly cooking class where professional chefs teach students how to cook.
The principal of KRSS Benedict Keh said it takes about six months to plan the programmes.
"We have observed that our students are keen to learn new skills... They are also very relational, hence intentional effort is being put in to design programmes so that they can build positive relationships with their peers and significant adults who can guide them in their growing-up years."