Singapore Insights: Social Innovation and Enterprise

How is Singapore moving towards a more inclusive society? 28 Siyuan scholars and their teachers visiting from Fudan University, Shanghai participated in the Singapore Insights: Social Innovation and Enterprise programme to find out more.

(Above) Chinese scholars from the Siyuan Programme taking a group photo at the end of a visit to The Enabling Village as part of a one-day Singapore Insights: Social Innovation and Enterprise programme.

For the second year running, the Singapore International Foundation welcomed Chinese scholars from the Siyuan Programme (思源计划) as part of our “Singapore Insights: Social Innovation and Enterprise” series on 30 August 2017. A total of 24 students and four teachers from Fudan University, Shanghai participated in a one-day programme where they gained insights into Singapore’s innovative solutions in addressing social needs related to disabilities.

The students of the Siyuan Programme were selected from six Chinese universities based on their academic excellence and leadership potential. The programme is envisioned as a scholarship to cultivate social responsibility and the spirit of service among outstanding Chinese students. 

(From left): Participants experiencing how one with visual impairment would navigate a space through other senses. They interacted with visually impaired facilitators like (second photo, in checked shirt) Zahier from Etch Empathy who shared insights into their daily lives.

During their visit to Singapore, students and teachers participated in a simulation exercise led by social enterprise Etch Empathy which is an alumnus of our Young Social Entrepreneurs  programme. The students experienced how the visually impaired navigate through other senses. Visually impaired facilitators Zahier, Norizzan and Erna shared their challenges, their role as a member of society and also their aspirations. Through the session, participants also gained new perspectives on how enterprises, such as Etch Empathy, play a role in creating an inclusive society in Singapore. 

“The event made me feel that I really can, and have to, do something for this world I live in," said He Nina, a student representative. "I got a better understanding of Singapore, especially how the country tries to make itself a more harmonious and a better place.” 

The group then toured various facilities at Enabling Village (EV), an inclusive and accessible community space for the public with a focus on providing training and employment opportunities for persons with disabilities through social businesses. EV is an initiative by SG Enable and the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF), demonstrating how the Public sector and community come together to create access and inclusiveness. 

The participants had the opportunity to try out examples of assistive technology at Tech Able, a facility that showcases how persons with disabilities can live and work independently by leveraging technology. At EV, they experienced the application of Universal Design elements that enable users, regardless of their age, size, ability or disability to access, experience and engage in the space and its programmes.  

“There are a lot more accessible facilities for persons with disabilities here in Singapore, whether in the gym or the lavatory. Here, people really have the chance to empower themselves by learning different skills. This allows persons with disabilities to feel like they’re part of the community and not so different from others,” said Ma Xiaoyang, another student representative.

(From left): Representatives from SG Enable, take the participants on a tour around The Enabling Village where they experienced how design, technology and the arts can enable access for persons with disabilities and create an inclusive society.

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