Parliament: Trails, new curriculum to help students appreciate Singapore's 50th year

SINGAPORE - Come Singapore's 50th birthday next year, students will be able to go on historical trails and research national archives to develop a keener appreciation of Singapore's history, said Senior Minister of State (Education and Law) Indranee Rajah on Tuesday.

The new lower secondary history curriculum - introduced earlier this year - also helps to deepen students' appreciation of Singapore's past, she added.

It starts from the island-state's early beginnings in the 14th century and moves on to the pre-colonial period. Previously, the syllabus focused on events from the 1800s onwards.

The new Secondary 1 textbook, for example, features oral interviews and photographs of early immigrants, and comes with a history source kit, including authentic shards from pre-colonial Singapore and Japanese banana notes.

"There is an emphasis on people and their experiences. This allows our students to draw personal relevance to the history and develop empathy," she said.

Together with the four National Education commemorative days - Total Defence Day, International Friendship Day, Racial Harmony Day and National Day - students can "learn important lessons from significant moments in Singapore's history and reflect on how they apply their learning to contribute as active citizens," she said.

She told Nominated MP Tan Tai Yong, who asked about the strategies schools are adopting to help students better appreciate Singapore's history, that students will go beyond the textbook and take to the external environment, including museums and heritage spaces.

"That was the thinking behind the SG50 trails where students actually have to go out, ask questions, learn, curate that information and through that process, hopefully our 50 year journey will come alive for them," she said.

rachelay@sph.com.sg