The study of Singapore history is a staple in the History and Social Studies curriculum. All Primary school students learn about Singapore’s past through Social Studies. Lower secondary students study Singapore history in a 2-year syllabus. As Singapore celebrates our 50 years of nationhood, the Ministry agrees with the need to deepen students’ appreciation of Singapore’s past.

The new lower secondary history curriculum focuses on Singapore’s history, starting from its early beginnings in the 14th century and moving on to the pre-colonial period. Students go on to learn that pre-colonial Singapore was a part of the global network, and developed as a port city as these connections deepened through the colonial period. Students will learn how the aspirations of people following the Second World War shaped Singapore’s journey towards independence. Lastly, students will learn how Singapore transformed through the collective effort, will and resolve of our people in the first decade of independence.

Students are taught through an inquiry-based approach, where they are encouraged to reason and draw meaningful inferences using historical sources. There is an emphasis on people and their experiences. This allows our students to draw personal relevance to the history and develop empathy and an understanding of history.

For example, the Secondary One textbook features the struggles of the early immigrants, told vividly through extracts of oral interviews. Photographs and illustrations of people, places, objects and events enable students to picture what Singapore was like, while learning about why they are significant to Singapore.

A history source kit complements the textbooks. The kit provides a multi-sensory experience, enabling students to ‘touch and feel’ artefacts from Singapore’s past, including authentic shards dated to pre-colonial Singapore, Japanese Occupation ‘banana’ notes, ration cards and a document proclaiming Singapore’s independence.

Beyond the formal History curriculum, the four NE Commemorative Days (Total Defence Day, International Friendship Day, Racial Harmony Day and National Day) are an important part of students’ learning experiences in school. Through these, students learn important lessons from significant moments in Singapore’s history, and reflect on how they can apply their learning to contribute as active citizens.

Schools are also gearing up to celebrate the nation’s 50th birthday in 2015. One project will see students reflecting on Singapore’s past, present and future, and sharing these through more than 60 trails and exhibitions. Students will be researching people, places and events in Singapore – probing into archival materials, collecting memories from people and curating information. They will be telling these stories that reveal the shared memories, life experiences and hopes of Singaporeans. Through all these educational activities, students will develop a keener appreciation of Singapore’s history.