VIDEO

Primary mission of NS? To teach discipline and values to young, survey findings show

Members of the Singapore Armed Forces during the march pass at the SAF Day Parade at Safti Military Institute on July 1, 2013. The primary mission for National Service is to instil discipline and values among the young, according to a new study on pe
Members of the Singapore Armed Forces during the march pass at the SAF Day Parade at Safti Military Institute on July 1, 2013. The primary mission for National Service is to instil discipline and values among the young, according to a new study on perceptions on the rite of passage. -- ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

The primary mission for National Service (NS) is to instil discipline and values among the young, according to a new study on perceptions on the rite of passage.

Disciplining and inculcating values in young able-bodied males edged out national defence to be NS' most important purpose for the 1,250 Singaporeans who were asked what NS means to them. Respondents picked transforming boys to men as the third most important reason for NS.

The survey, conducted by the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) between July and September, was commissioned by the high-level Committee to Strengthen National Service that is spearheading ongoing discussions on how to increase support and commitment to NS. It is the first-ever study on NS that is done by an independent research outfit and revealed to the public.

What NS means to respondents (in %)

Rank Purpose Not at all important Not so important A little important Important Very important Extremely important
1 To instil discipline and values among the young 0.2 1.2 2.1 29.9 38.5 28.1
2 For National Defence 0.1 1.4 2.1 31.5 38.5 26.4
3 To transform boys to men 0.9 1.2 3.1 31.7 35.1 28.0
4 For National Education 1.2 2.7 5.0 34.4 34.5 22.2
5 To build a unique Singaporean identity 0.6 2.4 5.2 39.3 32.6 19.9
6 To promote understanding between people from different backgrounds 0.4 2.6 5.9 41.7 32.0 17.4
7 To learn skills useful for civilian job employment 2.5 4.8 10.9 34.7 30.9 16.3
8 To integrate new immigrants into our society 4.8 10.2 13.9 34.3 22.9 13.9

Belief in the need for NS (%)

  Strongly disagree Disagree Slightly disagree Slightly agree Agree Strongly agree
NS is necessary for the defence of Singapore 0.4 0.6 0.5 8.3 48.0 42.2
NS provides the security needed for Singapore to develop and prosper 0.4 0.6 0.6 9.4 52.5 36.5

Source: Institute of Policy Studies

The study also found that women should be given the option to volunteer for the defence of the country. Eight in 10 said they would like to see women given the opportunity to do their part for Singapore's defence.

But only one in 10 women said they would choose to do so.

When it came to first-generation permanent residents, there was more consensus with 43 per cent saying they would give this group of PRs, who are currently exempted from NS, a choice to step forward to serve two-year stints or help out in NS events like the National Day Parade or the military's open house activities.