SINGAPORE - With a huff and a puff, houses were falling down in Boon Lay Garden Primary School on Monday (July 10). Houses made of cards that is.
Pupils at the school were learning about how easy it was to disrupt daily life and the importance of the different races working together to rebuild their homes.
Minister for Education (Schools) Ng Chee Meng dropped by the primary school on Monday to kick-start two weeks of Racial Harmony Day activities.
Sitting among Primary 4 pupils, Mr Ng stressed the importance of unity among Singaporeans.
He used the analogy of how a single chopstick is easily broken on its own, but many chopsticks together are hard to even bend, to describe the importance of being united.
He said: “When we Singaporeans come together as a team, we are stronger and able to build a better home for ourselves.”
The Primary 4 pupils were building houses of cards on large cardboard canvas that were resting on the laps of their peers.
The set-up forced students to cooperate with each other, as a single student moving could cause the entire canvas to shake and make the card houses fall down.
Teachers facilitating the event also simulated disasters such as earthquakes and strong gusts of wind that would destroy the houses already built.
Pupils of different races, and sometimes nationalities, then worked together to rebuild their card houses.
Primary 4 pupil Shawn Yee said he thought the game was really fun and was grateful that his peers were so willing to work together to build the card houses.
He said: “It was really hard, and I messed up once, accidentally making the houses fall. But my friends did not blame me or say anything. Instead we just worked together to keep building the houses.”
Mr Ng also held a brief dialogue session with a few parents from the primary school as well as those part of the Parent Support Group.
He stressed the important role parents play to nurture resilient and united children, especially through example when they take part in developing activities as a diverse group of people themselves.
One parent, Madam Shyamala Devi, 40, noted that part of nurturing children like that goes beyond just telling children what they can or cannot do. Parents must educate them on the implications of their actions.
She said: “Children tend to copy things they see on television or even at school and it is up to us to teach them what might happen from the things they do.”
Meanwhile, as a part of the SGSecure movement, all Primary 3 pupils got an illustrated story book developed by the Ministry of Home Affairs that follows the theme of staying united and being resilient.
The book includes different scenarios of possible emergency situations and responses to them, like reporting a suspicious bag on a bus to the driver.
Discussing the book during the dialogue on Monday, Mr Ng said that while Singapore anticipates a potential terrorist attack, no one knows where this attack will come from. “Building resilience in our children will be important to overcome the challenges an attack might bring.”