More than 35,000 pre-schoolers take part in art to learn about Total Defence

NurtureStars Preschool teacher Vanessa Ann-Mary Naidu said children learn best through activities that keep them interested and engaged.
NurtureStars Preschool teacher Vanessa Ann-Mary Naidu said children learn best through activities that keep them interested and engaged.PHOTO: SAFRA

SINGAPORE - To cultivate an appreciation of Total Defence, more than 35,000 children from some 500 pre-school centres are making artworks as part of their lessons leading up to Total Defence Day on Feb 15.

Called Our Hopes, Our Singapore Art Jam, the programme aims to teach children the importance of Total Defence, its six pillars and how every Singaporean plays a part in building a strong, secure and cohesive nation, including the fight against Covid-19, said Safra in a statement on Thursday (Feb 11).

The collaboration between Safra and the Association of Early Childhood and Training Services (Assets) also aims to strengthen psychological defence among families by encouraging positive conversations about the future beyond the pandemic, Safra added.

The activity involves the children sketching their hopes and dreams for the future on a foldable art frame that can be taken home for display.

This is meant to serve as a reminder for families to play their part to safeguard Singapore's way of life and keep these aspirations alive, it said.

Total Defence is a national defence framework introduced in 1984 to drive the message that every Singaporean has a part to play through the six pillars - military, civil, economic, social, psychological and digital.

Senior Minister of State for Defence Zaqy Mohamad, who is also Safra president, said Total Defence is critical as Singapore recovers from the pandemic.

"Every Singaporean plays an important role, supporting our six pillars to reinforce our nation's resilience and tackling its impact on our lives and livelihoods."

"This defining moment in our history is an opportunity to bring important life lessons to our young Singaporeans, as they shape their hopes and dreams, and mould the Singapore of tomorrow," he added.

Ms Vanessa Ann-Mary Naidu, a teacher at NurtureStars Preschool at Safra Jurong, said that children learn best through activities that keep them interested and engaged. The art jam session allows them to express themselves and apply what they have learnt, she said.

"While they are drawing or colouring on the foldable art frames, we will also take the opportunity to ask them about their hopes for the future and how Total Defence plays a part in getting us there."

Other participating pre-schools include Kids and Kins Childcare Centre, My First Skool, Little Tree House, PCF SparkleTots, Young Minds Childcare Centre, and Twinklekidz.

President of Assets Susan Loke said the past year has been an unprecedented experience for pre-school children both inside and outside of the classroom. For instance, they had to learn how to wear face masks or shields for the first time and adopt better personal hygiene practices.

"We hope that this initiative will help them better relate their personal experiences to the bigger picture of how everyone has a part to play in Total Defence," she said.

Safra also announced the Explore SG Virtual Challenge, where operationally-ready national servicemen (NSmen) and their families can sign up to run, walk or cycle along six routes from March 1 to 31.

Each route will be themed according to one of the six pillars, enabling participants to navigate along a selection of iconic landmarks and sites, or take on fun-filled challenges to learn more about Total Defence.

Registration will open on March 1, with fees ranging from $10 to $37. Details will be made available on the Safra website.