29th August 2017 14:02:24 Hours
Ms. Sabariah Binte Mohamed Hussin, Research Analyst at International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research at the S. Rajarathnam School of International Studies (RSIC) in Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore, a specialist in CVE, Singapore, contributing to Tuesday’s (29) morning sessions on ‘Education Strategies in Internal Security’ highlighted the momentum of further strengthening of the cornerstones of national education policies for better end results for ethnic integration and peaceful co-existence.
“Education is the foundation for security and stability of a nation. For education to contribute to the prosperity and peace of a nation, the government should develop a national education policy. The cornerstone of a national education policy is to integrate the diverse ethnic and religious community. If schools are designed in a way to segregate the community - that is if the diverse communities go to schools of their own linguistic and religious denomination, then a nation will never be united. At the heart of creating a stable and secure nation-state, it is to ensure that all ethnic and religious communities study together from kindergarten until they complete, primary, secondary and tertiary education. No multi-ethnic, multi-religious country can sustain stability and security if the citizen of that country grow up in silos where they do not intermingle, integrate and assimilate in creating the nation-state. It is inevitable that there will be suspicion, prejudice, hatred, and insults leading to incitement and violence unless there are integration and assimilation of the communities. Such a policy in national education requires leadership, political will, and vision.”
Describing the purpose of national education took the examples of her own country, Singapore. “Singapore drew its education system from good practices around the world and developed their own system. Singapore has built a national education policy, strategy, and plan aimed at the integration of its diverse ethnic and religious communities. Singapore’s prosperity today is a direct resolution of the ethnic and religious harmony of the nation-state. To develop national cohesion, the instinct for survival and confidence in the future, foster a sense of identity, pride and self-respect as Singaporeans.”
By knowing, understanding and instilling the core values of the Singapore story, a lot of things can be learnt. By of our way of life, and the will to prevail would ensure our continued success and well-being, she said.
“In its public school social study textbook, there is a dedicated section where students are exposed to different ethnic and religious traditions to cherish and embrace diversity. The ethnic and religious harmony Singapore is enjoying today is the foundation of its prosperity.
Referring to Singapore’s national pledge, she said late Mr. S. Rajaratnam, the pledge emerged against the backdrop of a vital struggle to forge a sense of nationhood and build a society of equality. The architect of that foundation of prosperity is in fact, a Sri Lankan born S. Rajaratnam who was our first Foreign Affairs Minister and he passed away after reaching a position of Deputy Prime Minister then Senior Minister. The late Mr. Sinnathamby Rajaratnam was born in Vatukottai in Jaffna peninsula. Shortly after independence, Mr S. Rajaratnam wrote the National pledge in 1966 to inculcate national consciousness and patriotism in schools. He believed that language, race, and religion were potentially divisive factors and used the Pledge to emphasize that these differences could be overcome, if Singaporeans were united in their commitment to the country, she pointed out.
The University that I worked at, has dedicated in his honour, the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies where we conduct research into extremism, terrorism and other subjects, pertaining to national security of Singapore and the region. The National Pledge is recited during school assemblies daily, Singapore Armed Forces Day, the National Day Parade, and at National Day Observance Ceremonies.
Talking on exclusivism, extremism and terrorism, she added that her latest research demonstrates that it is not only ethnic extremism that leads to terrorism, but also exclusivism.
“Exclusiveness is segregating into separate exclusive circles, not integrating with other faiths. To prevent this, various communities and their leaders were committed to working together to strengthen our social harmony. No community insisted that its race, or its language or its practices should be above any of the others. Singapore is aware that differences in language, race, or religion could easily be exploited to generate conflict. We have to live peacefully together and maintain our common space that all Singaporeans share. It has to be neutral, secular. This is the only way all of us can feel at home in Singapore and at ease, where all races and religions interact and enlarged the common space, to unite all Singaporeans. Common spaces like public housing, schools, workplaces, our bilingual policy, all of these brought families of all races and religions together, while allowing each community to maintain strong links to its own language, culture, and roots,” she noted.
“Total Defence involves every Singaporean playing a part, individually and collectively, to build a strong, secure and cohesive nation. When we are strong, we are able to deal with any crisis. Today, threats and challenges to Singapore can come in many unexpected shapes and forms. Natural disasters, climate change, energy, water and food scarcity, piracy, illegal immigration, self-radicalization and cyber-crime are examples of the wide range of threats we face today. Our response to such challenges involves every Singaporean playing a part - the young and the old, men and women, regardless of race or religion. Every small act counts - whether it is being vigilant against suspicious activities, respecting and accepting people of different ethnic backgrounds, taking care of our environment, showing support for our National Servicemen on duty at home or abroad, or simply looking out for one another. This is the essence of Total Defence - that when we each play our part, we help to strengthen the nation as well as ourselves, Ms. Sabariah Binte Mohamed Hussin said.
Total Defence is a framework for an all-round response to threats and challenges and involves all Singaporeans in the following five aspects: Keeping Singapore secure“ We need a strong Military Defence to defend ourselves when attacked or to deter foreign intervention and prevent ourselves from being attacked. The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) is a conscript armed force, depending on not only its Regulars but also the commitment of its National Servicemen with the support of their families and employers. To remain operationally ready, our servicemen keep fit, train seriously and keep abreast of the latest military doctrines and equipment. Taking care of our family, friends, and people around us in times of crisis.
“During times of crisis or disaster, resources will be strained and we will need everyone to pitch in. If we know what to do, we can save ourselves and our loved ones, help others and ensure that life goes on as normally as possible. Learning what to do in an emergency before it happens - such as taking part in emergency exercises and attending first-aid and emergency preparedness programmes that the Singapore Civil Defence Force conducts - helps us respond more effectively in times of crisis.”
“The threat of global terrorism is real and security personnel cannot be everywhere all the time. Singaporeans can do our part to keep Singapore well protected by helping to look out for and reporting anything suspicious” she concluded.