2019 has arrived, and it’s time for all students to pack their bags, get out their uniforms and head back to school! As the familiar stress from school begins to make its way towards us once again, we mentally prepare ourselves for the day. Every student faces stress, however, school isn’t all about academics, it’s important to have meaningful experiences while in school.

Let us share with you 3 ways that we can balance our students and character growth in the different phase of education lives in Singapore.

Secondary School

The Secondary One students will confess that the transition from primary to secondary school serve as a major turning point in their young lives. This marks a point in their life where they have to embrace more independent learning instead of top down learning. They  

From studying four main subjects in primary school, a secondary student will now have to take time to study eight to nine subjects. In addition to academics, this is also a time to live and learn from new experiences, make friends that will last you a lifetime! Secondary schools in Singapore offer many opportunities for students to experience life outside of the classroom. These are aimed to get students more involved in the community and develop important personal qualities and life skills such as leadership, confidence and teamwork.

One of the ways schools could introduce these opportunities is through the implementation of co-curricular activities (CCAs) where every student can spend time after school not worrying over their academic progress but instead spending time with their friends doing something that genuinely interests them in the 4 to 5 years of education. Although schools are already assisting them in this step towards integrating themselves into the real world, students can also take the initiative to do their part in helping the community. Why not join the coop club to learn about entrepreneurship and at the same time to be your own boss with a social heart?

Post-Secondary Schools

Polytechnics / Institute of Technical Education (ITE)

Polys and ITE offer a huge range of industry-oriented courses in various field such as (engineers, business, healthcare, science, tourism and hospitality, technology, etc) to prepare them for future careers, training and studies.

For students who know exactly what kind of skills they would like to learn for their future career or passion, polys or ITE can be an option for them. Polys emphasised strongly on providing more practice-based learning. For example, polys provide internship opportunity with industry partners as part of their curriculum to be attached to an organisation from six week to six month or a year for chosen courses.

During our time job shadowing in SNCF, we came across two interns from Republic Polytechnic who are pursuing their Diploma in Social Enterprise Management. According to them, they are doing their six-month internship where they exposed to working environment and task where it gave them an exposure to what their courses could lead them in the future. So, if you are interested in doing an internship at SNCF, why not write in to sncf@sncf.org.sg to give yourself a stand to learn about project planning and advocacy for the co-operatives movement in Singapore?

Pre-University and University

Junior College (JC)

JC is a pre-university institution which offers two year of pre-university courses that leads to a GCE ‘A’ level or International Baccalaureate Diploma. In JC, it will be common to hear everyone talking about nothing but work, having very little time for family and yourself. Being in JC requires a lot of self-discipline — paying extremely close attention in class, asking the teacher questions, being diligent to complete every single exercise given including the optional ones. Other than a lunch out with friends or even a mere 15-minute power nap to replace your 5-hour lack of sleep, life to you would be nothing but the books and folders that pile up on your desk. I know many people who are studying in JC, with many of them whining about their work and stress. Even for the Year Ones, I’m sure it would be relatable for you if someone says, “It is such a relief I finally didn’t get a U grade in my H2 subject.”. But is it true that JC kids are just surrounded by books?

After JC, what route are you going to take in University? What is a course you wish to pursue after A’ level? With so much time spent into your studies, you find yourself barely having enough time to think about the job scope you wish to pursue. This is why many students would look for internships or a job after their As, either to earn a bit of money or give themselves an experience on what being in the working world feels like!

Good news for both polys and JC students who are thinking to pursue the tertiary education in the local universities. SNCF Co-operative Scholarship is here to aid you in your next lap in education pathway.

SNCF Co-operative Scholarship offers for local or permanent residents, who wish to get into local university! The Scholarship supports the scholar’s undergraduate study at any local university, capped at four years. It covers full tuition fees and a maintenance allowance of S$3,500 per academic year. In addition, the recipient is entitled to a hostel accommodation allowance up to S$3,500 per academic year and a maximum computer grant of S$3,000. Upon graduation, the scholar is to be bonded to SNCF for a period of up to four years and may be deployed to work in co-operatives and related sectors!

The application has begun, head over to this link or Brightsparks to find out more!


University, for many people, is the most stressful period as it might be the last time studying before entering the working world. Hence, that’s why it’s so important for them to master their academic and practical skill before graduating to gain better employability.

However, it’s just as important to grow your character too! Lifelong learning is a skill that many people should embrace even after their schooling days. One is never too young to learn. As we are still children, it is important that we make full use of our childhood, bringing out as much fun and learning as we can before adulthood, where having fun and the simple ability to learn becomes tough. As what Ms Frizzle from the Magic School Bus would always say in every episode, “Take chances, make mistakes, and get messy!”

Go for internships during break or allocated semester, not just in SNCF but 66 affiliates under SNCF. Research and write in to these co-operatives should you have any interest, you never know you might find your employment even before graduation!

Other than internships, go for overseas students exchange programme! Immerse yourself in another culture, experience different education system, explore the world while you are still free because time waits for no man! You have to keep on learning, unlearning and relearning as you progress in life!

Learn new skills and develop your own personality and characteristics. Be a lifelong learning learner and witness the benefits of it!

This article was brought to you by Mariya Yusuf Shahiwala, Tay Wan En Linette and Anya Elizabeth Fernandez Lee. Currently Secondary Four students who are pursuing their secondary school education at CHIJ Katong Convent. Three of them were student intern in SNCF, Campus and Youth team from 12 November to 16 November 2018.