Kids play to learn under new heritage programme

Primary 4 and 5 pupils from Pei Tong Primary School taking part in a Heritage Explorers programme at the Malay Heritage Centre yesterday, where they earned badges by learning about traditional games.
Primary 4 and 5 pupils from Pei Tong Primary School taking part in a Heritage Explorers programme at the Malay Heritage Centre yesterday, where they earned badges by learning about traditional games. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

Children will now get the chance to try out the roles of historian and heritage ambassador as part of a new National Heritage Board (NHB) education initiative.

Called Heritage Explorers, this initiative is inspired by the Science Centre Singapore's three-decade old Young Scientist badge scheme. It targets primary school pupils.

Participants can pick from one of five professions including curator, designer and educator. After that, they have to complete three of five tasks assigned to their chosen profession before they are awarded the badge.

For instance, one of the tasks from the curator profession requires participants to locate "vintage" objects such as a cassette player, floppy disk or sewing machine.

A task under the historian category suggests that pupils learn more about traditional occupations such as ice-ball makers, clog makers and night soil collectors.

Speaking at the programme's launch at the Malay Heritage Centre yesterday, NHB assistant chief executive of policy and community, Alvin Tan, said that the programme complements social studies, national education and character and citizenship education in schools.

The aim is also to have pupils fan out across the island's museums, heritage sites and precincts and their own neighbourhoods to be more closely acquainted with the heritage around them.

He added: "Through this programme, we hope to ignite the spark of interest in heritage among pupils, and instil in them an appreciation of the value of heritage from young."

The programme, which was piloted with Punggol Green and West View primary schools last July, will reach a total of 22 schools and more than 10,000 pupils in the programme's first run.

Mr Tan said the aim is for the programme to be rolled out to all 190 primary schools and about 277,000 pupils over the next three years.

Fathima Yusra Ismeth, 10, a Primary 5 student from Pei Tong Primary School who tried out traditional games such as five stones and zero-point under the "educator profession" badge, said they were a welcome change.

"Today, we stay in our rooms glued to our iPads and computers. It was nice to rediscover some of the games of the past," she said.


•The second run of the programme will take place from May to September. Schools can register for the scheme by emailing nhb_educationprogrammes @nhb.gov.sg from now till April 22.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 02, 2016, with the headline 'Kids play to learn under new heritage programme'. Print Edition | Subscribe