Singapore’s leading relief and development organisation Mercy Relief (MR) and its institutional partner, Singapore Polytechnic (SP), will groom the island-nation’s own breed of regional humanitarians with the commencement of the Diploma-Plus Certificate Programme in Humanitarian Affairs.

Conceived by Mercy Relief two years ago as a viable mean to address its and the humanitarian sector’s longer-term human resource requirements, the course was developed by MR and SP to provide an Asian-centered perspective on the scope and mechanics of humanitarian work in the current globalised era. 50 Year-1 students have been selected=”true” for the course, from an initial pool of 200 SP students from various academic disciplines who had signed up earlier.

(MR’s Chief Executive Hassan Ahmad paves the foundation of the course to the students by introducing the key humanitarian actors in his first lecture.)

Mercy Relief’’s Chief Executive Hassan Ahmad delivered the first lecture with an overview of the global humanitarian assistance industry. Stemming from MR and SP’s mutual commitment to grow the humanitarian sector, Mr Hassan expressed optimism for the course success by sharing that “the pioneer batch of students are representative of the larger socially-conscientious young demographic who have the intellect for humanitarian issues and the heart to become effective contributors to the sector, thus making Singapore a potent hotbed to churn readily-deployable humanitarian workers in the near future.”

Also stressing on the important role of Asian non-governmental organisations, Mr Hassan added that “given the escalating occurrences of natural disasters in the region, it is imperative that we produce aid workers that are adoptable and adaptable to varying ground situations in different country settings. Being Asians ourselves, having the cultural appreciation and familiarity with other affiliated sensitivities give us the advantage to relate better to host partners and beneficiaries. Therefore operating with an Asian-centred philosophy, inculcated through this course, would make these future Asian aid workers more readily acceptable, relevant and valuable in the field.”

This course was designed in compliance with SP’s guidelines and comprises three modules with a total of 150 hours. Structured to be completed over three semesters during the first and second year, the course carries an overarching humanitarian affairs theme. It will explore links between social and environmental impacts of disaster interventions and sustainable development through the activities of humanitarian organisations with varied resources and capabilities. Jointly taught by MR staff and SP lecturers, lessons delivered will complement the knowledge and skills in the normal diplomas to enable graduates to take on jobs that support the humanitarian sector.

Commenting on the encouraging response from students, SP’s Senior Director of Architecture, Design and Environment Cluster, Mr Lim Cher Yam, expressed that, “This is the first time we are having such a programme with Mercy Relief and it is heartening to see the overwhelming response. 214 students have applied for the course, which is more than four times oversubscribed. This is also the highest number of students who have applied for a Diploma-Plus Certificate Programme for this semester. With the introduction of this course, we hope to develop more students who will meet the shortfall of trained personnel in the Asian humanitarian sector and make a significant contribution in this area.”

Together with Mr Hassan Ahmad, Mr Lim spearheaded the MR and SP course developers team to come up with the integrated programme that would equip students with the skills and industry knowledge to undertake practical and effective delivery of humanitarian work. Apart from learning through case-studies and drawing lessons from their lecturers’ personal experiences, students will be exposed to practical training at MR’s project locations around the region.

In April 2010, MR and SP signed a Memorandum of Cooperation to expand their existing cooperation to various strategic initiatives that would contribute to the development of the local humanitarian sector. This makes the Diploma-Plus Certificate Programme a clear footprint indicative of Singapore’s imminent standing as a serious humanitarian player and responder in Asia.

About Mercy Relief

Mercy Relief is a Singaporean humanitarian organisation which engages in both disaster relief and sustainable development programmes. It was established in 2003 as an independent non-governmental humanitarian charity responding to the human tragedies in Asia. Mercy Relief’s aid programme focuses on providing timely and effective assistance to disaster-stricken communities and has maintained the delivery of emergency aid within 72 hours from the point of appeal for assistance.  

In the past 12 years, Mercy Relief has disbursed over S$32 million in aid across 40 disaster relief and 53 sustainable development initiatives. Mercy Relief has impacted an aggregate of 2 million lives in 24 countries and areas, namely Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, DPR Korea, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Japan, Laos, Lebanon, Malaysia, the Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal,  Pakistan, Palestine, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam and Yemen.

For more information, you may call us at 6514 6322 or email corporateaffairs@mercyrelief.org