Help SAP students broaden cultural perspective

Schools under the Special Assistance Plan (SAP) have always faced the challenge of a homogeneous student population, raising the issue of a lack of diversity and interaction with students of other races ("SAP schools shouldn't be tweaked for sake of tokenism: Janil"; Aug 6).

Although I agree that a tokenistic move of offering Malay or Tamil language classes in SAP schools will be unfair to minority students, it is a problem that SAP students do not have enough interaction with people of other races in Singapore.

It is unrealistic to terminate the programme after seeing batches of students thrive in it.

Minister of State for Education Janil Puthucheary also said similar programmes exist for Malay and Tamil, but do not have comparable take-up rates.

Therefore, instead of pushing students of other races to join the programme, we should focus on ways to improve the current situation.

There are many ways to encourage interaction among students of different races, but the challenge is in ensuring that those interactions are worthwhile.

In fact, it is an assumption to say that by interacting with more people of different races, students will be better at understanding them. So, the quality of the interactions should be emphasised instead of the quantity.

While their peers from other schools have the advantage of a more racially diverse environment, SAP students need to participate in more meaningful activities to broaden their cultural perspective.

Such activities may include interfaith dialogues and inter-school exchanges.

Zhang Shenjia (Miss)