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Launch of National Education 17th May 1997

National Education was launched by then Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on 17 May 1997.[1] It was initiated in 1996 by the Ministry of Education to foster national cohesion and instil a sense of national identity among students and younger Singaporeans.[2]

National Education aims to inculcate an understanding of  the challenges and vulnerabilities that are unique to Singapore.[3] It emphasises the core values of meritocratic, multiracial and multi-religious harmony.[4] National Education is not taught as a separate subject in schools but is infused with the primary school curriculum.[5] Examples of national education include the daily flag-raising ceremony and oath of allegiance (or the pledge), and visits to key state institutions.[6]

National Education comprises four core annual events – Total Defence Day, International Friendship Day,  Racial Harmony Day and National Day. Total Defence Day is held on 15 February each year to commemorate the fall of Singapore to the Japanese in 1942. On this day, activities held in school serve to remind pupils that Singapore can be defended and is worth defending, and that Singaporeans themselves are responsible for the defence of Singapore. International Friendship Day is celebrated in schools on the third Friday of Term Two. This is a day dedicated to the understanding of Singapore's relations with its neighbours, and aims to nurture in students the spirit of friendship and collaboration among different people.[7] Racial Harmony Day, which is commemorated on 21 July, marks the race riots that broke out in Singapore on this day in 1964, reminding students that social division weakens society, and that race and religion will always be potential fault-lines in Singapore’s society. It is a day for students to reflect on and celebrate the nation’s success as a harmonious society, built on cultural diversity.[8] National Day on 9 August celebrates Singapore’s independence from Malaysia and its emergence as a sovereign nation.

1. Ministry of Education, Singapore. (2008, January 2). Speech by BG Lee Hsien Loong, Deputy Prime Minister at the launch of National Education on Saturday 17 May 1997 at TCS TV Theatre at 9.30 AM. Retrieved April 15, 2014, from MOE website: http://www.moe.gov.sg/media/speeches/1997/170597.htm
2. Goh, C. T. (1996, September 8). Prepare our children for the new century: Teach them well. Speeches: A bimonthly selection of ministerial speeches, Sept–Oct 1996, 1–13. Singapore: Publicity Division, Ministry of Culture. Call no.: RSING 354.5957035 S.
3. Ministry of Education, Singapore. (2014). Purpose of NE. Retrieved April 15, 2014, from MOE National Education website: http://www.ne.edu.sg
4. Ministry of Education, Singapore, 2 Jan 2008.
5. National Education Branch. Ministry of Education. (2003). National Education in schools. In S. K. S. Tan & C. B. Goh (Eds.), Securing our future: Sourcebook for infusing national education into the primary school curriculum (p. 13). Singapore: Prentice Hall. Call no.: RSING 372.95957 SEC.
6. National Education Branch, Ministry of Education, 2003, pp. 11–12, 14, 25–26.
7. Ministry of Education, Singapore. (2014). Core events. Retrieved April 15, 2014, from MOE National Education website: http://www.ne.edu.sg/core_events.htm
8. Ministry of Education, Singapore, 2014, Purpose of NE.
9. Ministry of Education, Singapore, 2014, Core events.  


The information in this article is valid as at 2014 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

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