The Advisory Council on Community Relations in Defence (ACCORD) and UWCSEA Dover host a biennial National Service (NS) Information Session for NS-eligible boys who attend international schools in Singapore. Predominantly Permanent Residents, the audience members have made a long-term commitment to Singapore, and are drawn from international schools all over the island, including UWCSEA Dover and East, Singapore American School, Tanglin Trust School, and the German European School.
The information sessions provides families with information on how to prepare for, and what to expect from, their NS.
Introduced by Chris Edwards, Head of College at UWCSEA and member of the ACCORD Educational Institutions Council and moderated by Gary Seston, Vice Principal of Dover Campus High School, the event provides a forum for a range of different perspectives, and for the audience to ask questions of a range of speakers from the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) and UWCSEA staff, alumni and parents of alumni.
Representatives from MINDEF provided an overview on the need for NS and how NS has been a key part of Singapore’s defence and security for the past 50 years. They also outlined how pre-enlistees can prepare for NS.
Ms Johanna Fishbein, Head of University Advising at UWCSEA Dover reassured families about what for many is one of their most pressing concerns: how will NS affect my son’s university applications and study, “In many ways NS helps boys discover what they like and what their passions are and it turns them into wonderful students, awesome roommates … and they are often the most mature kids on campus. From our experience universities have nothing but good things to say about NS.”
This is borne out by the experience of UWCSEA alumni, one of whom said, “I used to worry that I would fall behind my peers who had gone straight to university, but now I realize that I’ve leapt ahead of them. Even 10 years of civilian life would not have given me the leadership opportunities and experiences I got in my two years of NS. I feel really well prepared for my future.”
Current Full-time National Serviceman (NSF) 2nd Lieutenant Rigel Ho, a UWCSEA Dover alumni, provided the audience with reassurance about the rewards and opportunities for growth and personal development presented by NS. He emphasised the importance of approaching NS with a positive mindset and using it as an opportunity to gain valuable life experience.
Mr Adesh Sarup, a parent of a current NSF, emphasised this, “It’s a really good balance of conventional training and contemporary training; at age 18 to get that sort of real life leadership experience, in order to understand what leadership really is, will stand you in good stead in the years ahead.”
Approximately 20% of UWCSEA’s male graduates are required to serve NS and do so after graduation each year.
The video above was made at the inaugural NS information session for pre-enlistees, hosted on Dover Campus in 2015. Most recently, UWCSEA Dover's model for supporting students to prepare for their National Service commitment has been recommended as a model for international schools across Singapore to adopt in future. On Wednesday, 8 May the Dover Campus team welcomed National Service Coordinators from over 20 international schools to a sharing session.
About the Advisory Council on Community Relations in Defence
The Advisory Council on Community Relations in Defence (ACCORD) was established by MINDEF in January 1984 as a channel for the community to provide feedback on issues concerning Singapore’s defence.
Following recommendations from the Committee to Strengthen National Service (CSNS) in 2014, MINDEF has reviewed the structure of ACCORD to deepen engagement with employers, educational institutions, family members and members of the broader community, as well as to facilitate initiatives from the community that better support National Defence and National Service (NS).
ACCORD is restructured with three Councils formed under its ambit, namely, Employer and Business (E&B), Family and Community (F&C) and Educational Institutions (EI) Councils.
Mr Chris Edwards, Head of College at UWCSEA, sits on the ACCORD Educational Institutions Council.
Originally published on UWCSEA Perspectives: Community News.