Fostering Diversity & Inclusivity

Fostering Diversity & Inclusivity

Fostering Diversity & Inclusivity

On VUCA¹ & Social Mixing:

Three HCI initiatives that prepare students for the new global workplace and complex social environment


First started in 2008, this entrepreneurial initiative is an integral part of Hwa Chong Institution’s (HCI) Integrated Boarding Programme (IBP), involving about 240 Sec 3 and Sec 4 students across three school terms. It has three main modules:

(a) Values of Entrepreneurs
(b) ELP Core
(c) Breakfast/Dinner with CEOs

(a) Values of Entrepreneurs

The lessons on “Values of Entrepreneurs” are conducted seminar-style, not unlike Harvard Business School’s Case Method.

The main trainer is HCI’s alumnus, Mr David Sin, who earned his MBA from Harvard.

The co-trainers include local entrepreneurs introduced by Mr Sin. Values such as vision, leadership by example, passion, courage, creativity, empathy, integrity are discussed using case studies.

(b) ELP Core

ELP Core includes the following

  • Understanding Self
  • Nature of Innovation Process – Business Models & Generating Ideas
  • Effective Communication
  • Design Thinking and Entrepreneurial Skillsets,
  • Preparing & Presenting a Business Plan


This module is conducted by Stanford-trained Dr Alex Lin – HCI alumnus who is an Entrepreneur-in-Residence with NTU Ventures.

(c) Breakfast/Dinner with CEOs

The third module is less structured. The school invites successful leaders in both the public and private sectors to have dinner or breakfast with its students. In an informal setting, they discussed geopolitical and social and economic issues.

The industry captains include DBS’ MD Tan Su Shan, Far-East CEO Philip Ng, former Chief of Air Force Ng Chee Khern as well as young and promising entrepreneurs such as Stanley Han. Students’ feedback has been highly positive.

On Social Mixing

To encourage social mixing and as part of the ELP journey, students are encouraged to design and implement a social entrepreneurship project.

One such project is a service-learning project with Huamin Primary School.

Here, the students planned and implemented a 3-day-2-night camp for underprivileged pupils from the primary school. The aim is to motivate these disadvantaged children to study in a fun-filled environment.

HCI students also have the opportunity to interact with pupils from different cultural and socio-economic backgrounds and to understand their needs.

The students who have gone through this project are planning more follow-up activities for these pupils.

Other social entrepreneurship projects include the school’s collaborations with CDAC, Pertapis Children’s Home, Southeast CDC and other self-help organisations.

The success of the programme is seen through a change in mindset of the participants.

One of the students said that in the past, he thought MSG (Mean Subject Grade) was the only criterion of success. So he used to work hard to gain every mark in his tests and exams to remain a top student. After the ELP, he now understands that there are many different ways to be successful. For him, MSG is no longer the only goal in life for him. Life has become more meaningful for him.


HCI has a renowned immersion programme in its Beijing Satellite Campus. This was started in 2007. Here, students learn about the socio-political culture and history of China, and understand contemporary Chinese developments.

Fewer people know that the school has another highly successful Business Journey in Southern China that involves the cities of Suzhou, Shanghai, Yiwu and Fujian.

Hwa Chong students participating in this immersion spend two months in these cities to understand the business culture of China. This programme has three components:

(a) Business Plan
(b) Interaction with Chinese Businessmen in China
(c) Business-related Project

(a) Business plan

Participants are usually given a short course on writing business plans before they embark on a journey to Southern China. They are required to design a business project and persuade people to invest in them. They present their business plans to peers, parents, teachers and/or alumni in the private sector to get feedback and support.

(b) Interaction with Chinese businessmen in China

During the trip, the participants have the opportunity to meet businessmen in Suzhou, Shanghai and Yiwu. In the real-world interaction, they come to understand the business culture in China.

The school is fortunate to receive strong support from its alumni and parents who operate businesses in these cities.

Business leaders such as Mr Ho Ren Hua, MD of Banyan Tree (China), and Mr George Quek, Chairman of BreadTalk are among its strongest supporters.

For example, HCI students have the opportunity to implement their business plans. In Yiwu, they buy small items from a mega-mart at very low prices, add value to these items by printing logos or designs that customers like, and make arrangement for these goods to be shipped back to Singapore.

The aim is not to teach students how to earn a profit. Rather, an important take-away is for them to engage in the process of negotiations with the Chinese suppliers of goods in the mega-marts. They also have to solve real-world problems and overcome obstacles, including arranging for shipping and dealing with faulty items.

Students work in authentic settings. When they return home and start selling the goods, they come to realize quickly that persuading customers to buy their goods is not easy. Hence, they have to find ways to overcome the constraints. It is both a challenging and rewarding learning experience.

(c) Business-related Project

The last leg of the Business Journey in Southern China involves a social entrepreneurship project in Fujian.

Here, students visit a small village called 南靖where 客家土楼is.

They spent about two weeks in this village helping underprivileged children in a primary school learn English through activities like singing and drama. They also help build resources for the primary school by constructing footpaths and establishing a library for them.

The library project was a success. The first batch of students constructed a small library, and subsequent batches of students stocked up the library with books and learning resources. This social entrepreneurship project is particularly a heart-warming end to the Business Journey to Southern China.

Developing Cultural Intelligence and a Global Perspective

China is but one of the many sustained and durable immersions the school has established in recent years.

In fact, HCI has over 100 partner schools in 16 countries across four continents.

An important aim of all of these overseas immersion programmes is to improve the Cultural Intelligence (CQ) of students.

Using global thinker and author David Livermore’s CQ model as its conceptual framework, the school launched a longitudinal research project on students’ CQ in 2012. The cross-border collaborative project is expected to conclude with a comprehensive report in 2017. Through this study, the school hopes to make a significant and original contribution to knowledge and practice in Education.

More important, the ultimate aim is to equip Hwa Chong students with the skills and knowledge to relate with people from different cultural and social backgrounds as well as political perspective.


HCI piloted a joint overseas community involvement project (OCIP) with ITE College West last year. The two institutions visited Nepal in Dec 2012.

The main objective was to create an engaging platform for HCI (College) students to work with other students towards a common goal of helping the community. Through organized outdoor activities, both theHwa Chong and ITE students had ample opportunity to exchange real-world skills and experiences with each other.

This year, the students are heading to Surabaya, Indonesia.

There are about 30 students and teacher chaperons in total (12 students from each side). Like the students, it has been a great learning opportunity for the teachers from both institutions.


¹VUCA stands for “volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity.” At MOE’s Work Plan Seminar on 25 Sep 2013, Education Minister Heng Swee Keat said that global companies are now thinking about the world using the VUCA framework.