Schools should stay as open communities said Ong Ye Kung

Schools should stay as open communities said Ong Ye Kung

Photo Courtesy: Timothy David

Education Minister Ong Ye Kung said that it is crucial for schools to remain open communities. He is of the opinion that this would give students chances to interact with peers from different backgrounds and races, and grow up in a multicultural Singapore.

Special Assistance Plan (SAP) schools need to make extra efforts to expose their students to their peers from other backgrounds he said.

Mr Ong was speaking at the premiere of a documentary-drama at the Capitol Theatre which pays tribute to the contributions of former educators from CHIJ St Nicholas Girls' School, which is a SAP school.

It is the 40th anniversary of SAP schools this year. They were established to conserve the traditional Chinese school environment when Chinese-medium schools were closing down due to falling enrolment. Mr Ong said that such exposure needs to go beyond the occasional or one-off event and focused on the need to find platforms for deep, regular and meaningful engagements like partnering other schools to offer outdoor learning, Values in Action programmes or even joint co-curricular activities.

He also stressed on the need to remember the historical context of setting up SAP schools. It was to uphold the traditional Chinese school cultural environment, at a time when English education had become very popular and Chinese schools were closing down. The SAP schools are part of a larger ecosystem, he added, and along with government schools, clan-based and church-based government-aided schools, and madrasahs, they make up a diverse education landscape.

He added that SAP schools are also one example of a range of efforts to promote the learning of mother tongues. The  students need to be multilingual and multicultural, ready to embrace a future and at the same time to be anchored to the roots and confident to face the world.

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