SINGAPORE - Amid the scrutiny that Singapore's newest junior college has been under in the last two days since its name was unveiled, some people have defended the name, saying it is a meaningful choice for the school.
Reverend Father Henry Siew, chairman of the school management committee of Catholic High School, told The Straits Times on Wednesday (Dec 30) that "Eunoia" is a "good name" because of its meaning: To have a sound mind and goodwill.
The word has Greek origins and means "beautiful thinking" and "goodwill towards others".
But it has left many puzzled about its pronunciation, and some have asked how it relates to ordinary Singaporeans and the school's future students.
The new JC will start taking in its first batch of students in 2017 from Catholic High School, CHIJ St Nicholas Girls' School and Singapore Chinese Girls' School. Through the IP, these students can go on to JC without taking the O Levels.
"It may not be a familiar word and it's Greek, but it reflects the world view that we want our students to have as leaders," said Rev Siew, who was consulted in the naming process.
"It's a matter of getting used to and it's part of exposing our students to new possibilities. That's the spirit and attitude we want them to have," he said, adding that he is taking all the public feedback about the name in good cheer.
"This Greek word which has become an English word that contains all five vowels has great symbolic meaning for us. It is about coming together for completeness and wholeness, signifying an all-rounded education," he said.
"It also signifies the cooperation of five entities: three secondary schools, the new junior college and the Ministry of Education."
Ms Euleen Goh, chairman of Singapore Chinese Girls' School board of directors, said she was not surprised at the reaction to the school's name because it is an unusual word.
"My first instinct when I heard it was to ask how to pronounce it too, but personally it became special when I understood what it means," she said. "It's a distinctive name, just as how this coming together of three schools is distinctive.
"We have to look beyond how the name is pronounced to what it means and how it links to the mission of the college," she added. "I know it will take some time for the name to settle in people's minds, and some might take a shot at it during this period... but let's be open-minded and focus on what the school is doing for students."
She also noted that naming is an important juncture for the school, and that she is sure it did a thorough job thinking about it.
"It's for the college to craft a curriculum that lives up to its name."