Voices Of Youth

Teach SAP students racial sensitivity

I have been a student in a Special Assistance Plan (SAP) school for four years.

During a meal at a recent inter-school exchange, some of my schoolmates started speaking in Mandarin when inviting the participants to eat.

This sparked puzzled glances from the non-Chinese participants.

Though the words were expressed with good intent, they immediately drew up a wall of exclusion based on language differences.

SAP school students spend their school years among Chinese-speaking peers.

Though this allows for Chinese values and culture to be reinforced, the homogeneous environment also contributes to greater ethnic segregation and a lack of awareness of other races, as seen at the inter-school exchange.

SAP school students are not pushed to exhibit understanding and sensitivity towards other cultures - a skill that is essential not only in multiracial Singapore, but also in our largely globalised world.

Changes need to be made. SAP school students need to be equipped with greater awareness and sensitivity.

Tan Ming Shiuan, 16, Secondary 4 student

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 19, 2017, with the headline 'Teach SAP students racial sensitivity'. Print Edition | Subscribe