While Singapore’s education system places a lot of emphasis on academic excellence and the nurturing of every student to the best of their abilities, it also wants to trains students who will become responsible and morally upright Singapore citizens who care for their country and are willing to contribute back to Singapore’s society.
To infuse the students with a sense of belonging and ownership to Singapore, Singapore’s education system has also included national education (NE) in its syllabus. NE not only teaches the students facts about Singapore which every Singaporean should know, it also arouses a sense of pride and belonging to Singapore as it does so. Students learn about Singapore’s history, culture and characteristics, and learn to love and protect their country in doing so, killing two birds with one stone.
Purpose of National Education
The main purpose for introducing NE into the education curriculum is so that a sense of pride and nationhood can be fostered into the student. It also serves to promote national cohesiveness and develops a natural survival instinct within students, which allows them to face the future with confidence.
NE also wants students to learn and know about the physical constraints faced by Singapore, and how these constraints made us unique and different from other countries. It also teaches students how Singapore survived and made it to what we are today, a modern metropolis, despite the constraints that were imposed on us. It is hoped that through the Singapore Story of us overcoming all odds and becoming a well developed nation, students will be able to feel proud of their country and would want to continue to survive and face the future with confidence in order to keep Singapore going.
Another objective of NE would be to instill Singapore’s core values in our way of life, instilling a sense of belonging within the students as they live each day with the thought of Singapore in their hearts, no matter where they are. It is also hoped that through knowing and understanding the core values, they would want to ensure Singapore’s success and continue to excel and prevail in whatever they do, having the confidence to defeat whatever goes against them, for the sake of a better Singapore tomorrow.
The Six Messages
Singapore’s core values, which is also the basis on which NE is built on, are reflected in the following six messages:
1. Singapore is our homeland; this is where we belong.
This message reminds students that Singapore is where their home is, and there is no other country that can replace that in their hearts. Singapore will and forever be their one and only homeland where they truly belong.
2. We must preserve racial and religious harmony.
Singapore is a multi-racial and multi-religious country. As such, in order to live together peacefully and prevent racial or religious riots from breaking out, it is important that students understand the importance of respecting another race of religion, and not be bias or prejudice, which can bring about internal breakdown, diminishing the national cohesiveness of Singapore.
3. We must uphold meritocracy and incorruptibility.
In order to contribute to society, everybody should work to the best of their abilities and strive hard to achieve success. In Singapore, there is no such thing as taking shortcuts, only by working hard and reflecting your best in every work that you do then can you achieve what you want.
4. No one owes Singapore a living.
Singapore belongs to Singaporeans, and therefore, Singaporeans must be the ones to find a way to survive and prosper. We cannot depend on other countries to help us and allow us to survive. As Singaporeans, students must understand that they themselves have to work hard to keep Singapore going.
5. We must ourselves defend Singapore.
Singapore is our home, and we have to protect it. We must be the ones who protect it as we would be the ones who truly care about home and give in our best to defend it. We cannot depend on others, they are not responsible for Singapore’s safety and their defence would be lackluster. We must defend Singapore for it is our home, not others’.
6. We have confidence in our future.
Every student must work hard and strive to their best in order to keep Singapore going, Singapore must be able to survive in the future and we have to be confident of what we are doing to help Singapore prosper. Singapore’s destiny lies in our hands, and we have to make its future bright and unwavering.
Importance of National Education
In today’s rapidly globalizing society, the importance of NE is more eminent than ever. Every year, there are more and more students who refuse to come back and contribute to Singapore after taking local scholarships and pursuing their careers overseas. They prefer to break bonds with the scholarship provider and continue to stay overseas, working for another country.
This is a pressing problem for Singapore as more and more adults are losing faith in Singapore and would rather acknowledge another country as their home. As such, NE plays an important role in educating and nurturing the students to be responsible students who care for Singapore and want to contribute to Singapore, not to another country.
All Singaporeans should have basic knowledge of their country. As such, NE plays a large role here in educating students about their country, teaching them to love and respect Singapore, and want to stay to protect Singapore. Thus, NE is important in encouraging pupils to stay in Singapore in the future to contribute to our society.