New JC name lacks local relevance, historical context

The choice of an obscure word of Greek origin for the name of Singapore's newest junior college suggests that despite our year-long SG50 extravaganza to honour Singapore's history, we still have so little confidence in our ethnic roots that we uncritically look West for grand and noble concepts ("Get your tongue around Eunoia, the newest JC"; yesterday).

I certainly appreciate Greece's historical and philosophical contributions to human civilisation.

But Asia - where Singapore is located, and from where most of its citizens hail - is similarly rich in achievements and in cultural depth.

Instead of importing an esoteric word from a country more than 9,000km away - which the Bible uses, in Paul's first letter to the Corinthians, to allude to sexual relations - could the Ministry of Education (MOE) not have found a more familiar one rooted in Sanskrit, Tamil, Chinese or Malay?

Asian cultures do not lack words for personal virtues, achievement, or the pursuit of knowledge.

As it stands, Eunoians are likely to be nicknamed "Eunnoyances" or "Eunuchs" by rival schools ("Eunoia JC? Please rethink the name"; ST Online, yesterday).

Given that Catholic High and CHIJ St Nicholas Girls'- two of Eunoia JC's three feeder schools - are Special Assistance Plan schools, something related to the students' Chinese or Catholic heritage would also have been more suitable.

Acting Minister for Education (Schools) Ng Chee Meng said, at the MOE awards ceremony where he announced Eunoia's name, that schools should help students feel a sense of commitment and belonging to Singapore ("Students 'need the space to innovate'"; yesterday).

It is difficult to see how the name Eunoia - which lacks local relevance and historical context - will do that.

Estella Young (Ms)

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 31, 2015, with the headline New JC name lacks local relevance, historical context. Subscribe