School name a powerful tool in building identity

I agree with Madam Goh Soo Feng ("School name not a superficial matter"; Forum Online, Jan 17). This is especially the case with a new school, where identity-building is a crucial process in promoting the community spirit and future success.

Schools are unique institutions - they coalesce around distinct identities that bind stakeholders to them. Through articulating a series of values that it aspires to, students, alumni, parents and staff better identify with the school and own a stake in its success.

Many prominent schools owe much of their success to their strong school spirit.

Developing such an identity is of special importance to a new school like Eunoia Junior College.

It has no alumni to aid its development; students have yet to develop loyalty to the school. It will need the zeal and drive of a strong school spirit to ensure that its first batch of students creates a strong foundation for the future.

The new college's administration has admittedly taken great pains to develop a school identity.

Identity is, however, not merely constructed in the form of ideals but also on tangible symbols, such as the school's name. The lack of traction gained by the name "Eunoia" may thus be a barrier to building a strong school identity.

If students cannot be proud of their school's name, it is likely that their affiliation becomes a source of shame rather than pride.

Students are often the driving force of identity formation in schools.

Without a sense of ownership towards the school, students are likely to feel less of an incentive to develop the traditions and values that constitute school identity. This weakens the crucial drive to succeed.

Moreover, shame arising from the identity of a school will hamper its reputation among the public.

Instead of proudly proclaiming that they belong to the school, it is likely that students will instead try to hide their affiliation out of a fear of ridicule.

If this were to occur, the college would find it more difficult to improve its reputation by word of mouth, thereby making the school's job of attracting new students and opportunities difficult.

A school's name is a powerful source of identity and affiliation that can greatly affect a school's standing and community spirit.

The Ministry of Education should tread carefully when establishing names for new schools and give students a greater say in the naming process.

Ng Qi Siang