by Andrew Kwek Tse Hock, RPA Chairperson

In early April 2014, 17 parent volunteers who were elected into the 2015/2016 Raffles Parents’ Association (RPA) Management Committee sat together in their meeting room at the ORA Office mulling over the task that was given to them—to brainstorm and decide on the year’s activities for the RPA. They needed to do it fast and soon!

The committee was mindful that all activities planned would have to fulfill the objectives of the constitution by which the RPA is governed. Above all, the proposal had to be ready for the first monthly meeting only a few days away.

To cut a long story short, the proposal that was finally drafted was able to fulfill the objectives the RPA seeks to achieve, and leadership roles as well as sub-committees were identified for each activity. The committee discussed and debated on the budget to fund these activities, and agreed to put aside individual agendas and preferences to work together for the benefit of the school, students and parents. We also agreed to involve the parent support group of our sister school, i.e. Parents for RGS Association (PRGS) as well as the school’s alumni—the Old Rafflesians Association (ORA)—where possible, in the activities.

As with any committee of volunteers, it was necessary to strike a positive balance and to ensure peace and harmony reigned within such a group of diverse backgrounds. The committee carefully studied each of the past years’ activities and kept the successfully tried and tested ones that reaped multiple outcomes and positive feedback, tweaked some for the better by changing the focus, and dropped some that were not in keeping with the fundamentals of the association. At times, we had to keep reminding ourselves of the objectives of the RPA, making sure that they were not being compromised.

This year, RPA formed a partnership with the Raffles Guidance Centre (RGC). The RPA’s role is to mentor parents who wish to seek advice as to how they can mentor their children to grow up to be assured and independent adults. Our meetings with the RGC also became learning sessions for us as we realised that a parent’s role is indeed a dynamic one that changes with each phase, developing a more controlling one (when a child is very young) to one that is similar to a guide, mentor and friend as the child grows older.

With this advice in mind, we planned our career talks to include how parents can support their children when it comes to decisions like courses to take and career paths to pursue. While the school organises career talks for students, the RPA organises talks for parents. These talks help parents better understand the career paths and opportunities available for their children, and also promote better parent-child communication.

In 2014, the RPA organised career talks in the fields of Law, Medicine and Accounting, in which speakers explained how the knowledge they have acquired can also be applied in areas beyond their fields. We highlighted how majors such as Law and in Accounting are not totally specialist areas, and skills learnt can take on significant roles in other careers paths. For the talk on Medicine, we invited practitioners who have chosen to participate in outreach programmes, and who specialise in geriatrics, which is especially important given our ageing population.

The RPA also invited speakers to cover Asset Management & Investment Banking, Journalism and Social Services. To round up the series, we had the privilege of having Minister Chan Chun Sing from the Ministry of Social and Family Development, himself a Rafflesian, share with parents and students the rich opportunities available within social service careers. Planning forward, we hope to invite entrepreneurs, self-employed individuals, and perhaps a few cyber-related businessmen in 2015.

Fun activities organised by the RPA in 2014 include the annual Teachers Day Appreciation Lunch on 4 September, and the Mega Mugging Madness (MMM) GCE A-Level suppers, which took place from 15 – 24 September.

The RPA dishing out delicious food at Mega Mugging Madness
The RPA dishing out delicious food at Mega Mugging Madness

These were activities which saw the largest gathering of parent volunteers to help organise and serve. Their enthusiasm and energy at these events was indeed inspirational and heartwarming. Principal Chan Poh Meng chose the Teachers’ Day Appreciation Lunch for his first ‘public appearance’ after a long stint of medical leave. Mr Chan’s presence at the MMM was also a strong encouragement to the students preparing for their GCE A-Level examinations.

Mr Kwek (right) with our Principal, Mr Chan
Mr Kwek (right) with our Principal, Mr Chan

Another fun activity we participated in was the ORA Family Fest, where the RPA and ORA supported RI and RGS for the annual Walk-A-Jogathon and manned food stalls for a day of food and games in true Rafflesian spirit.

Two Town Hall sessions were organised for Year 1 – 4 and Year 5 – 6 parents to enable them to get up-close and personal with the school’s management. Many of the enquiries and questions raised during these sessions concerned the Gap Semester, Raffles Academy, Raffles Diploma and CCA activities for the Year 1 – 4 session, and university admission and scholarship applications at the Year 5 – 6 session.

The RPA was also involved in the Year 1 – 4 Open House and the members of the RPA were happy to share their own personal experiences with the visitors, which mainly comprised parents of Primary 6 students. While these visitors came to see and hear what RI has to offer to their children, we were able to share with them stories of our children’s growth and development within the school’s six-year integrated programme. The RPA also participated in the Year 1 Registration Day on 22 December to welcome new parents and answer any questions that they may have regarding the RPA.

As the school year drew to a close, we sat back and reflected that it has been a good year. In 2015, we will and continue to support the school in its mission to nurture Thinkers, Leaders and Pioneers of character.