On 21 July this year, schools in Singapore marked the 50th anniversary of the 1964 racial riots. Racial Harmony Day (RHD), commemorated by schools on 21 July annually, has helped to promote inter-racial understanding among our students and is an important part of our national education. This year, our students will go a step further to advocate racial harmony among neighbours and friends.
This year’s RHD theme is “Harmony from the Heart”. It recognises that genuine and sincere harmony stems from the common values and aspirations we share, and the ties that bind us together. It can only be achieved if everyone takes the initiative to understand the different cultures, and inspire others to do the same.
The RHD celebrations are a reminder that promoting social cohesion and racial harmony requires collaborative efforts from our educators, students and stakeholders, including parents.
Political leaders from the Ministry of Education joined students to commemorate RHD at various schools today:
|Mr Heng Swee Keat|
Minister for Education
|Elias Park Primary School|
|Ms Indranee Rajah|
Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Law & Ministry of Education
|Bartley Secondary School|
|Ms Sim Ann|
Minister of State, Ministry of Education & Ministry of Communications and Information
|Greenridge Primary School|
|Mr Hawazi Daipi|
Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Education & Ministry of Manpower
|Yishun Secondary School|
RHD Activities at Elias Park Primary School
As the Guest-of-Honour (GOH) at Elias Park Primary School (EPPS), Minister for Education Mr Heng Swee Keat noted that good relationships can only be built if we better understand those around us. He encouraged students to do their part to understand other cultures, and going beyond that, to also be advocates of racial harmony. He announced that, OnePeople.sg, a ground-up national body focused on building racial and religious harmony, has been working with MOE and our primary schools to engage all Primary 4 students in advocating racial harmony by providing them with Orange Ribbon kits. The Orange Ribbon has been adopted by OnePeople.sg as a symbol of racial harmony to promote values of respect, understanding, trust and friendship. Each Primary 4 student will make six orange ribbons from the materials in the kit. Students will wear one of the ribbons and give the other ribbons to someone of a different culture, who could be a schoolmate or a neighbour. The ribbon will be accompanied with a personal note encouraging the recipient to wear the ribbon, and to talk to a friend or a neighbour from a different race to find out more about his or her culture and practices.
Primary 4 students from EPPS became the school’s advocates of inter-cultural understanding and racial harmony, by playing host to children from two kindergartens in the Pasir Ris area. Some of the EPPS students served as SH@PE Guides to lead visitors through the Singapore Heritage @ Elias Park (SH@PE) Alive!, which comprises different learning centres with artefact displays, interactive exhibits and resource materials. These SH@PE Guides and dedicated parent volunteers helped their guests and the kindergarten children to gain insights into our nation’s rich heritage, understand our customs and traditions, be connected to the way of life of yesteryear, and appreciate the different cultures that make up Singapore. The Primary 4 EPPS students also presented the Orange Ribbons that they made to the children from the two kindergartens. Thereafter, they also shared about the importance of racial harmony and encouraged behaviours to demonstrate the intended values.
RHD Activities at Bartley Secondary School
As the GOH, Ms Indranee Rajah, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Law & Ministry of Education, opened Bartley Secondary School (BSS)’s Hawker Culture Learning Gallery, which aims to enhance the teaching and learning of hawker culture and heritage. Schools from the S6 cluster, which include Bartley Secondary, Cedar Primary, Cedar Girls’ Secondary, CHIJ Our Lady of the Nativity, Peicai Secondary, St Gabriel’s Primary, St Gabriel’s Secondary, St Margaret’s Secondary, Teck Ghee Primary, Yangzheng Primary, Zhonghua Primary and Zhonghua Secondary, collaborated to put up the exhibition on how hawker culture promotes better inter-cultural understanding. Through sharing their knowledge and learning, students acted as advocates of inter-cultural understanding to their schoolmates and peers from other schools.
Visitors were interviewed by BSS students regarding their recollections of hawker food and its relevance to racial harmony and nation-building in Singapore. The interviews were conducted in front of a green screen and captured on video, later to be edited against a background of a hawker scene. These videos will be used as resources for students to deepen their learning about Singapore’s unique feature of racial harmony through the place that hawker centres play in our lives.
RHD Activities at Greenridge Primary School
As the GOH, Ms Sim Ann, Minister of State, Ministry of Education & Ministry of Communications and Information, joined Greenridge Primary School (GRPS) students in commemorating RHD through playing traditional games and learning about other cultures. Primary 4 students acted as advocates of inter-cultural understanding, through giving an Orange Ribbon to Primary 3 students and explaining its meaning, and teaching them the traditional games, which promote the values of respect, understanding, trust and friendship.
These activities reinforced the learning from GRPS’s signature programme named Funtastick Harmony, a school-based programme comprising an array of activities across different themes, such as Food, Festivals, Music and Sports. Through this programme, students learn to work together (stick) in harmony through fun and meaningful common experiences. It promotes cross-cultural understanding and social cohesion amongst students of different races, reinforcing the civic values of respect, care, harmony, graciousness and public-spiritedness.
RHD Activities at Yishun Secondary School
As the GOH, Mr Hawazi Daipi, Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Education & Ministry of Manpower, joined Yishun Secondary School (YSS) in commemorating RHD with some of the pioneer generation members living in Chong Pang constituency. Students had earlier interviewed them to find out more about the racial riots that they had witnessed or lived through, their lives in the kampong, as well as how they continue to live out the kampong spirit in their current Housing Development Board estates. This effort was part of YSS’s collaboration with Chong Pang Community Centre, where students interacted with residents when they visited and helped them clean their homes. YSS screened the video that captured the process. This was a Values in Action (VIA) initiative that allowed students to appreciate the contributions of our pioneer generation in nation-building and encouraged students to extend their care and concern to the people around them.
Mr Hawazi launched a portal, Harmony from the Heart, a digital repository of photographs taken by students to represent their commitment towards racial harmony. This repository of photographs will also serve as a teaching and learning resource that teachers can use to engage students in oral discussion and to teach essay-writing.