River Valley High School death: MOE working closely with police, students' safety is paramount, says Chan Chun Sing

Education Minister Chan Chun Sing speaking to media at River Valley High School on July 19, 2021.
Education Minister Chan Chun Sing speaking to media at River Valley High School on July 19, 2021.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG
A police car is seen at River Valley High School on July 19, 2021.
A police car is seen at River Valley High School on July 19, 2021.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

SINGAPORE - Education Minister Chan Chun Sing said his ministry is rendering all possible support to the students and staff of River Valley High School and their families.

His comments came after an incident at the school which saw a student allegedly killed on the grounds.

In a Facebook post at about 4.25pm on Monday (July 19), the minister said the safety and well-being of students and staff are of paramount importance.

"We are all shocked to receive news of the tragic incident at River Valley High School this morning," he said.

"We are working closely with the Singapore Police Force on the investigations, and they will be sharing more details on the case in due course."

He added that the ministry is determined to work with parents and students to keep schools safe, and have children grow up and learn together in a trusted environment.

"To all our students: We will take care of you as always," he wrote.

"If you need to talk to anyone, or know someone who needs help, please reach out to an adult, your teachers or school counsellors. You are never alone, and we will always stand ready to help you."

Mr Chan visited the school at Boon Lay Avenue at 5.30pm and spoke to the school principal Mrs Teo Khin Hiang, teachers and some of the affected students.

Giving brief remarks to the media waiting at the campus at 6.30pm, the minister said the Ministry of Education is doing all it can to help affected students and staff.

Mr Chan added that the school is in close communication with parents to provide the information they may need to have a sense of assurance.

“Give the families some time and... respect their privacy,” he said, adding that the public should not to speculate about the reasons behind the alleged attack.

Mr Chan also urged all students and families who need assistance to reach out for help. “The schools, the counsellors all stand ready,” he said.


Students are seen standing outside the school hall at River Valley High School on July 19, 2021. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

Minister of State for Education Gan Siow Huang had shared Mr Chan’s post earlier in the day, and echoed his call for students to reach out if they need to talk to someone or know of someone who needs help.

“Most of us were lost for words when we heard about this tragic incident,” she wrote. “We stand ready to help.”

Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin also shared Mr Chan’s post.

“Let’s stay calm and not add to the anguish of the families affected by this tragic incident,” he wrote. 

“Please don’t spread images and graphics and rumours. It’d only hurt them further. Our thoughts are with all affected by this.”


A bouquet of flowers left at the back gate of River Valley High School on July 19, 2021. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

National Development Minister Desmond Lee said the Boon Lay community has reached out to the school to offer any assistance it may require.

Mr Lee, who is MP for West Coast GRC (Boon Lay), where the school is located, added that the local family service centre (FSC) has placed its counsellors and those of nearby FSCs on standby to support those who have been emotionally or psychologically affected. 

“We have also activated our community volunteers to assist the school in any way it needs, and will make all our facilities available for the school’s use, if necessary. We will place this at MOE’s and RVHS’ disposal.”

Mr Lee also added: “My immediate thoughts and prayers are with the grieving family, and also with the students, teachers, parents and alumni who must be deeply affected by this tragedy and struggling to make sense of it.”


Getting help

National Care Hotline: 1800-202-6868 (8am - 12am)

Mental well-being

Fei Yue’s Online Counselling Service: eC2.sg website (Mon to Fri, 10am to 12pm, 2pm to 5pm)
Institute of Mental Health’s Mental Health Helpline: 6389-2222 (24 hours)
Samaritans of Singapore:  1800-221-4444 (24 hours) /1-767 (24 hours)
Singapore Association for Mental Health: 1800-283-7019 (Mon to Fri, 9am to 6pm) 
Silver Ribbon Singapore: 6386-1928/6509-0271  (Mon to Fri, 9am to 6pm)
Tinkle Friend: 1800-274-4788 (Mon to Fri, 2.30pm to 5pm)/ Tinkle Friend website (Mon to Thu, 2.30pm to 7pm and Fri, 2.30pm to 5pm)

Counselling

TOUCHline (Counselling): 1800-377-2252  (Mon to Fri, 9am to 6pm)
Care Corner Counselling Centre (Mandarin): 1800-353-5800 (Daily, 10am to 10pm)

Past cases of campus attacks

2009 NTU stabbing, suicide

An Indonesian final-year undergraduate, 21, fell four storeys to his death moments after he allegedly stabbed the supervisor of his final-year project in his office with a knife.

The alleged attack occurred on March 2, 2009 during a meeting to discuss the project with the professor. The student is said to have stabbed the professor from the back before falling from a bridge at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) campus.

The student's death was ruled a suicide following a coroner's inquiry that spanned 10 days and involved more than 30 witnesses.

2015 ITE West slashing

A then 17-year-old student slashed another teenager with a bread knife on the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) West campus on March 9, 2015 in an attack sparked by a dispute over the victim's girlfriend.

The lunchtime attack, which was caught on a video that was widely shared, left the victim with cuts on his left forearm, left fingers, upper back, and behind his left ear. The victim also suffered fractures in his forearm and two fingers.

The perpetrator was given reformative training following an appeal.

• Jean Iau