SC Journey programme helps new citizens integrate

A man taking photos of documents at the National Citizenship Ceremony 2019.
A man taking photos of documents at the National Citizenship Ceremony 2019.ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

We thank Dr Alvona Loh Zi Hui and Mr S Ratnakumar for their letters (More activities with locals would help integrate new citizens, Sept 13; Integration possible only by unpacking emotional baggage, Sept 16).

We agree that it is important for new citizens to integrate well into our community.

New citizens would already have experienced our way of life and our norms, having lived in Singapore for some time before being naturalised.

By taking up citizenship, they are committing themselves to our shared values and way of life, and have made a conscious decision to place their hopes and dreams on Singapore, making this country home, for them and their future generations.

This is the motivation behind the Singapore Citizenship (SC) Journey, a mandatory programme for those who wish to become citizens. Through the programme's online guide and quiz, new citizens can deepen their understanding of Singapore's history, culture, values and norms.

The SC Journey already includes a component for new citizens to interact with locals. During the community sharing sessions, new citizens meet fellow residents and grassroots leaders from their constituencies to strengthen their connections and roots to their local communities.

Since last year, some new citizens have also taken part in a module of the SC Journey which sees them volunteer alongside other Singaporeans, and give back to society.

However, as Mr Ratnakumar has reminded us, integration is possible only when the newcomers unpack their emotional baggage and embrace the values of Singapore.

And we need Singaporeans, new and locally-born citizens, to open their hearts and minds to one another

The Government has announced that a citizens workgroup will be refreshing the content of the SC Journey, which would include our values, norms, and national history.

Workgroup members would get a chance to shape what future new citizens would learn as part of the SC Journey.

Despite starting out as an immigrant society, we have built a nation and a people with a strong sense of shared identity. But integration efforts must continue. We are confident that we can build a strong and cohesive society, together.

Letchumanan Narayanan

Senior Director, Resilience and Engagement Division

Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 18, 2019, with the headline 'SC Journey programme helps new citizens integrate'. Print Edition | Subscribe