SINGAPORE, 15 November 2017 – NTUC FairPrice (FairPrice) today launched its 35th annual Share-A-Textbook project, along with a newly developed digital platform, designed to empower the community to share their pre-loved textbooks. The FairPrice Share-A-Textbook mobile app and online portal, developed in partnership with Microsoft Singapore and Nanyang Polytechnic, aims to provide greater convenience and flexibility for parents to donate and exchange textbooks for their children. The launch of the new digital platform is aligned with the government’s Smart Nation initiative that aims to utilise technology to make lives better.
Mr Seah Kian Peng, CEO, NTUC FairPrice, said, “The FairPrice Share-A-Textbook project reflects our social commitment to make lives better for all as it encourages sharing amongst the community, helps students from low-income families reduce their educational expenses and promotes sustainability by re-using textbooks. As we mark the 35th anniversary for this signature community initiative, FairPrice continues to renew our efforts to ensure it remains relevant in today’s digital world. Through our partnership with Microsoft and Nanyang Polytechnic, we leverage on technology to boost community participation; making it more convenient to share textbooks while also optimising resources to run this meaningful programme.”
Last year, some 450 volunteers from over 170 supporting partners and FairPrice staff spent over 9,600 man-hours collecting, sorting, and redistributing textbooks for the Share-A-Textbook Project. With the digital platform, the estimated number of man-hours required will be reduced to less than 900 man-hours, a savings of over 90 percent compared to last year. This enables volunteers and staff to focus on quality interaction and engagement with the community.
Empowering community sharing with digital technology
Developed by Nanyang Polytechnic in partnership with Microsoft on the Azure cloud platform, the FairPrice Share-A-Textbook mobile app and online portal taps on technology to improve the process of giving, receiving and co-ordinating pre-loved textbook donations.
Starting from today, parents can easily post textbooks that are still in good condition they want to donate simply by scanning the textbook’s barcode with the mobile app. The system automatically recognises Ministry of Education (MOE) approved textbooks, categorises it according to subject and education level, and includes a description of the donated textbook on the digital platform for users to search for and pick from. Users can then use the digital platform to arrange to collect the textbooks they have selected from donors through the app. This also gives the initiative a more human element where donors and recipients are able to interact.
Mr Dennis Ang, Director of School of Information Technology at Nanyang Polytechnic, said, “The FairPrice Share-A-Textbook Project is a long-standing community project that has benefitted many young students. We are glad that the digital platform developed by Nanyang Polytechnic students will support the sustainability of the programme.”
Mr Kevin Wo, Managing Director of Microsoft Singapore, added, “At Microsoft, our mission is to empower every person and organisation on the planet to achieve more. As we continue to help organisations in Singapore digitally transform themselves for tomorrow’s digital economy, we are also committed to helping organisations harness the power of technology for the good of the local community. Through this meaningful collaboration with FairPrice and Nanyang Polytechnic to create the Share-A-Textbook mobile app – a digital platform that enables people to donate and receive used textbooks easily – we hope that this will pave the way for more students to benefit from the initiative and help foster a better and more inclusive Singapore for everyone.”
More details of the FairPrice Share-A-Textbook digital platform can be found at www.fpshareatextbook.sg.
Traditional textbook drop-off points
Donors who prefer to physically drop-off their old textbooks that are still in good condition can still do this at all 7 FairPrice Xtra hypermarkets and 22 FairPrice Xpress stores located at Esso petrol stations from 15 November to 3 December 2017.
To ensure that textbooks reach beneficiaries that are in need, FairPrice works with MOE, social service organisations, various labour unions and Community Development Councils (CDCs) to shortlist students from low-income families who will be able to collect donated textbooks separately. The books they receive will be from donations collected from various schools and FairPrice stores. About 20,000 students between the ages of 7 to 16 years have been registered under this priority scheme. Last year, 13,000 beneficiaries collected books under the priority scheme.
FairPrice’s sustainability efforts
In addition to serving the needs of the less fortunate in the community, Share-A-Textbook underlines FairPrice’s drive in championing environmental sustainability by encouraging the community to re-use textbooks. The project has collected, redistributed and recycled over 4.7 million books since 1983 – equivalent to filling the book shelves of the Singapore National Library more than 8 times.
This is in addition to ongoing eco-friendly initiatives such as the FairPrice Green Rewards Scheme to reduce the use of plastic bags, and the FairPrice Food Waste Reduction Framework.