New NHB programme aims to bring students closer to Singapore's heritage

Secondary 5 students from Kranji Secondary School taking part in acitivities under the National Heritage Board's new programme SG Time Travellers.
Secondary 5 students from Kranji Secondary School taking part in acitivities under the National Heritage Board's new programme SG Time Travellers.ST PHOTO: SYAMIL SAPARI

SINGAPORE - Growing up, Muhammed Irfan Ahemed Ghani had never heard of the Tok Tok Man, a noodle hawker in the old days who went around alerting customers of his presence by playing a bamboo instrument which made a "tok tok" sound.

But the 16-year-old soon found himself playing the role of the popular figure together with his classmates from Kranji Secondary School (KSS).

During the activity, the students took turns to read out their orders to others who assumed the role of the Tok Tok Man, who had to put his memory skills to the test by remembering their orders.

It was among several activities lined up for students as part of the Pioneers and Philanthropists trail, under the National Heritage Board's (NHB) new programme SG Time Travellers.

The programme aims to ignite a passion for Singapore's heritage among students from the upper primary level and above. It comprises a total of 10 thematic trails, each covering a different aspect of Singapore's history.

Mr Alvin Tan, NHB's assistant chief executive of policy and community, said: "With every new batch of students, it is always important to impart to them the knowledge on different aspects of Singapore's heritage. We hope that they will be able to learn new things not found in their textbooks, to provide them with a more comprehensive and holistic picture of Singapore's past."

The programme officially kicked off on Wednesday (Aug 8) with over 20 Secondary 5 students from KSS learning about the progress made over the years by Singapore's forefathers and pioneers in the areas of medicine, community development and town planning.

They also explored sites such as the Singapore Improvement Trust flats in Tiong Bahru, Singapore General Hospital Museum and the Urban Redevelopment Authority City Gallery.

"We get to see the different heritage sites in real life, and it helps us to better visualise and understand the events which took place in the past," said Irfan.

The Pioneers and Philanthropists trail is among four trails which are currently available. Other existing trails include Many Races, One Nation - where students learn about the different communities living in Little India and Kampong Glam - and If Walls Could Talk, where they are taught about the histories of some of the buildings located in the Civic District.

The fourth trail, Backbone of the Nation, takes students on a tour of the Jurong district to learn about the development of the Jurong Industrial Estate.

NHB will introduce the remaining trails from October.

Schools may sign up for the programme by e-mailing NHB_educationprogrammes@nhb.gov.sg 

Primary and secondary schools which sign up will also be treated to an assembly programme prior to the trail itself.

Nurul Wasilah Azman, 16, also from KSS, said: "Besides going for learning journeys purely for fun, this one was also educational and it is something I would recommend to my peers."