Forum: Each of us needs to take a firm stand for multiculturalism against racial discrimination

We are heartened by Secondary 4 student Nikesh Sundara's views on the need to raise students' awareness of racism to protect Singapore's multiracial harmony (Teach the young to be aware of issues related to racism, June 6).

Racial harmony is neither preordained nor a natural state of affairs. This is why our schools teach and emphasise the importance of values like racial harmony and respect.

Topics on multiculturalism and the importance of racial harmony are taught in subjects like character and citizenship education (CCE), history and social studies.

Students learn about respecting differences and the issues related to living in a multicultural society, such as ethnic and religious sensitivities both in the past and present. They also learn the importance of common spaces in Singapore and how they can share and maintain them.

As part of the secondary and pre-university CCE curriculum, teachers facilitate regular discussion of contemporary issues in the classroom, including on race and religion.

During these lessons, teachers seek to create a safe space for students to learn to converse respectfully, listen actively and develop openness to multiple perspectives.

These values are practised and reinforced beyond the classroom. Students participate in learning journeys to cultural and heritage sites and the celebration of cultural festivals to deepen their understanding and appreciation of diverse cultures.

Every year, schools commemorate Racial Harmony Day on July 21 to remind students that our racial harmony remains a work in progress, and why we must cherish and strengthen it.

We are encouraged by Nikesh's views. As long as each of us takes a firm stand against racial prejudice and discrimination, and commit ourselves to protect and expand our common space, we can preserve and foster multiracial harmony for generations to come.

Loh Wee Cheng
Divisional director
Student Development Curriculum Division 1
Ministry of Education

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