National Youth Council
by Ho, Stephanie
Established on 1 November 1989, the National Youth Council (NYC) is the national coordinating agency for youth affairs in Singapore. It also facilitates international youth projects and activities. The council’s mission is to connect with Singaporean youths so that they are able to bring about positive change. To achieve this mission, the NYC plays the role of an advocate, enabler and partner of youths and youth organisations.1
In 1988, an Advisory Council on Youth chaired by Brigadier-General Lee Hsien Loong was convened to learn about the interests, needs and aspirations of youths as well as to review and recommend policies and programmes to maximise their potential and contribution to the nation. The council comprised youth leaders, young professionals and people who worked with youths.2
One of the council’s key recommendations was the formation of a national youth council to plan, coordinate and manage youth affairs in Singapore. At the time, various ministries and statutory boards handled different aspects of youth matters. Although there was a National Youth Coordinating Committee (NYCC) that coordinated Singapore’s participation in regional and international youth activities, this committee was a non-executive body with no policymaking functions.3
The Advisory Council thus suggested that the existing NYCC be expanded and upgraded to form the NYC, which would implement the recommendations of the Advisory Council and advise the government on the future needs of young Singaporeans.4
The NYC was formed on 1 November 1989 as a division of the People’s Association (PA).5 Chaired by then Acting Minister for Health Yeo Cheow Tong, the council comprised members from various government ministries, statutory boards and youth groups.6 In its early years, the council kept a relatively low profile with many young people and youth groups unaware of its existence.7
In 1993, then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong called on the NYC to raise its profile amid public discussions over the council’s lack of impact and the need for a ministry dedicated to youth affairs. As a result, NYC shifted its focus from facilitating to developing and steering youth programmes.8
In 1993 and 1994, the NYC initiated a host of initiatives to reach out to youths. Among these were the National Youth Seminar, feedback programme TalkShop, Project E to encourage an adventurous spirit among young Singaporeans, the Singapore Youth Awards and Youth Development Fund.9 In 1998, the council appointed local singer Kit Chan as Singapore’s first Youth Ambassador.10
In 2009, the NYC reviewed its mission and vision to better reflect its multifaceted role. Its updated vision was to cultivate “inspired and committed youth” and its revised mission was to be an advocate, connector and enabler for young Singaporeans.11
Youth centre and skate park
The National Youth Centre and Youth Park at Somerset Road were officially opened by then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong in 1996.12 The centre was to serve as a one-stop centre for youth and youth matters. It housed a multipurpose hall for meetings and activities as well as a resource centre with reference and take-home materials on youths and youth organisations.13
In 2006, the Somerset Skate Park was opened by Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, then Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports and chairman of the NYC. The new park featured a large skating court as well as ramps and structures that met international skating standards. The park was created in response to feedback gathered from young people who were passionate about extreme sports.14
Key programmes and initiatives
Youth Expedition Projects
Launched in 2000, the Youth Expedition Projects (YEP) is a national youth volunteer programme spearheaded by the NYC and administered by the Singapore International Foundation (SIF). The aim of the programme is to nurture resilience and a sense of adventure among youths through overseas volunteer experiences. By 2010, over 900 community-based service learning projects involving over 20,000 young volunteers were conducted under the YEP programme.15
In August 2013, it was announced that the YEP programme would eventually be subsumed and replaced by a volunteer youth corps. As part of the programme, youths will participate in both local and overseas community projects.16
National Youth Forum
The National Youth Forum (NYF) was launched in 2004 to serve as an avenue for young Singaporeans between the ages of 17 and 25 to understand national issues and policymaking through various activities such as learning journeys, debates and dialogues with leading public figures.17
In February 2013, then Acting Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Laurence Wong announced in Parliament that the NYF would be discontinued due to its limited reach and impact. In its place, the NYC would conduct a series of more regular dialogues involving a larger number of youths from different age groups.18
SHINE Youth Festival
Started in 2005, SHINE is a festival that provides a platform for youths to showcase their talents, highlight their contributions to society and profile inspiring youths. The festival is an annual event held during the month of July, which has been designated as “youth month”. Since its inception in 2010, more than 1 million youths have participated in the festival.19
The Young ChangeMakers Scheme (YCM) provides seed funding to young people and youth groups involved in community projects. Unlike other grant schemes, a panel of young people between the ages of 15 and 35 decides on the award of the grants.20 By empowering youths, the scheme hopes to nurture their leadership and decision-making skills.21
National Youth Council Academy
The National Youth Council Academy was launched in 2011 with the aim of training youths and youth organisations. The academy’s training sessions are conducted at the *Scape Youth Centre, which was renamed the NYC Academy.22
Launched in 2012, INSPIRIT is a collaboration between the NYC and the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF). This initiative aims to build a community of young working adults who will serve as advocates for youth interests and champion youth causes. These young adults are nominated for INSPIRIT by their employers or youth organisations.23
The NYC works with regional and international youth organisations to develop closer ties between youths of different countries. Bilateral and regional youth programmes that the NYC facilitates include the Singapore-Malaysia Youth Camp, the Ship for Southeast Asian Youth Programme (SSEAYP) and the ASEAN+3 Leadership Executive Programme.24
Singapore Youth Awards
The NYC administers the Singapore Youth Awards (SYA), which is presented to youths who have made outstanding contributions to their community or professions. Past SYA winners include entrepreneur Kenny Yap, independent filmmaker Royston Tan and members of the Singapore Mount Everest expedition team.25
Grants and funding
The NYC also runs various other grant schemes to fund youth initiatives and projects. This includes the S$100million National Youth Fund, which encourages youth initiatives that support the community and champion social causes.26
Research and publications
NYC initiates, compiles and publishes research and studies on youths and the youth sector in Singapore. Its publications include Youth Statistics in Brief 2012, and Youth.sg: The State of Youth in Singapore 2010.27
1988: Advisory Council on Youth formed.
1 November 1989: Formation of the National Youth Council.
1996: Official opening of National Youth Centre and Youth Park.
1998: Kit Chan appointed as first Youth Ambassador.
2000: Launch of Young Expedition Projects.
2004: Launch of National Youth Forum.
2005: First edition of the SHINE festival launched.
2006: Somerset Skate Park opened.
2011: Launch of NYC academy.
2012: Launch of INSPIRIT initiative.
1. National Youth Council. (2013). Annual report for year ending 31 March 2013. Retrieved from http://www.nyc.pa.gov.sg/images/fy/annualreportfy12.pdf
2. Tan, T. H. (1988, May 9). Youth council members get down to work. The Straits Times, p. 32. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. Report of the advisory council on youth. (1989). Singapore: The council, p. 37. (Call no.: RSING 362.7095957 SIN)
4. Council for youth to be set up soon. (1989, April 16). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5. Ho, K. C., et al. (2010). Youth.sg: The state of youth in Singapore 2010. Singapore: National Youth Council, p. 11. (Call no.: RSING 305.235095957 YOU)
6. National Youth Council formed. (1990, May 21). The Business Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
7. Chiang, Y. P. (1993, January 30). Looking after needs of youth. The Straits Times, p. 22. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. Ministry for youth, sports not needed at present. (1993, January 19). The Straits Times, p. 22. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. Tan, H. Y. (1994, January 16). S’poreans wait till the last minute to send in nominations. The Straits Times, p. 25; Henson, B., & Chung, T. M. (1994, July 2). Strengthening the Govt-youth bond. The Straits Times, p. 32. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
10. Siti Andrianie. (1998, December 27). Kit Chan is first youth ambassador. The Straits Times, p. 33. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. Ho, K. C., et al. (2010). Youth.sg: The state of youth in Singapore 2010. Singapore: National Youth Council, p. 11. (Call no.: RSING 305.235095957 YOU)
12. PM to launch National Youth Centre and Park. (1996, June 20). The Straits Times, p. 39. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
13. National Youth Council. NYC times inaugural issue. (1996). Singapore: The Council, p. 1. (Call no. RSING 362.71095957 NYCT)
14. National Youth Council. (2006, January 19). News release: Bigger, better Somerset skate park opens in Orchard. Retrieved from http://nyc.pa.gov.sg/newss/pdf/1323682440MR---Launch-of-Somerset-Skate-Park.pdf
15. Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports. (2010, March 13). Speech by Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports, at the 10th anniversary celebration of the youth expedition project, 13 March 2010, 7:15 pm at *Scape Youth Park, National Youth Council. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/
16. Heng, J. (2013, August 23). 6,000 sought for youth corps. The Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
17. Ho, K. C., et al. (2010). Youth.sg: The state of youth in Singapore 2010. Singapore: National Youth Council, p. 13. (Call no.: RSING 305.235095957 YOU)
18. National Youth Forum discontinued due to limited reach and impact. (2013, February 6). Channel NewsAsia. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg
19. Ho, K. C., et al. (2010). Youth.sg: The state of youth in Singapore 2010. Singapore: National Youth Council, p. 13. (Call no.: RSING 305.235095957 YOU)
20. Young ChangeMakers. (2013). About us. Retrieved from http://ycm.nyc.sg/about-us
21. Ho, K. C., et al. (2010). Youth.sg: The state of youth in Singapore 2010. Singapore: National Youth Council, p. 13. (Call no.: RSING 305.235095957 YOU)
22. National Youth Council launches academy. (2011, April 16). Channel NewsAsia. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg
23. National Youth Council & Singapore National Employers Federation. (2012, April 10). Media release: INSPIRIT, a new community of young leaders, kick-starts with dialogue on land transport. Retrieved from http://nyc.pa.gov.sg/newss/pdf/1343184275MR-INSPIRIT-Launch.pdf
24. Ho, K. C., et al. (2010). Youth.sg: The state of youth in Singapore 2010. Singapore: National Youth Council, p. 14. (Call no.: RSING 305.235095957 YOU)
25. Gan, E. (2011, January 4). The movie maverick. Today, p. 4; Koh, B. P. (1998, July 6). Good crop gave judges tough task. The Straits Times, p. 23. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
26. National Youth Council. (2013, September 11). National Youth Fund factsheet. Retrieved from https://www.resourceportal.nyc.sg/nycp/ShowDoc/WLP+Repository/nyc/grants_fs/NYFFactsheet
27. National Youth Council. (2010). Showcase of resources. Retrieved from https://www.resourceportal.nyc.sg/nycp/nycp.portal?_nfpb=true&_pageLabel=static_resources#wlp_static_resources
The information in this article is valid as at 4 December 2013 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.