What are some of the values one can learn from the Values in Action Programme (VIA)?
In Singapore, it is compulsory for students of all levels to participate in the Values in Action Programme (VIA). The programme, which requires students to fulfil at least six hours of community work a year, was implemented with the aim of introducing youths to the notion of volunteerism and encouraging them to contribute back to society. As a student who has taken part in several VIA projects, I personally find the programme an educational one that cultivates many good values.
Firstly, VIA inculcates a sense of altruism in students. These days, many parents and educators use the carrot and stick approach to motivate the young to behave well or study hard. While the method has its merits, it also inevitably gives the wrong impression that a good deed should always be rewarded. Such self-serving mindset is unacceptable and can be corrected through VIA. As the programme requires students to volunteer their service for a good cause without expecting remuneration or other forms of reward, they learn to put the needs and happiness of others before their own. This fosters a sense of community spirit and teaches them to be selfless givers, not just takers.
Secondly, VIA nurtures students into caring and compassionate individuals. As Singapore is an affluent country, the majority of youths here lead a comfortable and somewhat sheltered life. Consequently, many are blissfully ignorant of the plight of the less fortunate. VIA awakes their social conscience and allow them to become aware of the problems that affect some people in society such as being poor or suffering from terrible illnesses. Through helping these less fortunate brethren, students will not only learn to show compassion, but also count their blessings and appreciate what they have in life.
In addition, VIA instils the value of hard work into students. For instance, students participating in a flag day are given the responsibility to collect money in public places for charity. The task is a real test of their diligence and perseverance as they have to be on their feet for hours and overcome all kinds of weather conditions. To raise as much funds as possible, they also have to be bold and conquer their fear of rejection by actively approaching people for donation. Sometimes, they even have to explain what the charity is about and convince people to give generously. It is by no means an easy task but students can look back with great satisfaction that they have worked hard and carried out their duties to the best of their ability.
Apart from that, VIA teaches students the importance of good teamwork. Besides donation drives, the programme also involves students in other volunteer work such as visiting the homes of the underprivileged where they help to clean, paint and repair. These homes are usually in a state of dilapidation and a lot of work is required to improve their condition. Thankfully, many hands make light work and students will learn that with cooperative teamwork, they can get the job done swiftly and successfully. Through the experience, they will also learn to deal with different types of personalities and enhance their interpersonal and communication skills.
In a nutshell, VIA is an educational programme that develops students into caring and socially responsible individuals. Even though students are not financially rewarded, they will benefit from the programme in more ways than one and learn important values that money cannot buy through volunteering their time, effort and skills.
Secondary 2, 2018, English Tuition