Our forefathers came to Singapore due to numerous "push" and "pull' factors. Immigrants from Europe and Arabia came to seek job and business opportunities. Immigrants from India and china came to escape from natural disasters, poverty and famine. Immigrants from the Malay Archipelago came to seek protection and safety from the disorder in their homeland. These immigrants are the roots of our multiracial, multicultural and multiethnic Singapore. Although the different races contributed greatly in different ways to the development of Singapore, they also hindered our growth when they fought amongst each other, as seen in the 1942 Maria Hertogh Riots and the 1964 Race Riots. This shows how important it is to maintain harmony and foster trust between the different races. The government has been attempting to achieve this by implementing various social policies to forge bonds between Singaporeans.
One of these is the education policy. All Singaporeans have the right to education, regardless of their race. Bilingualism is part of the policy. Learning the same language (English) helps to link Singaporeans of all cultural and ethnic backgrounds with a common bond, while learning a mother tongue develops a sense of identity in our multiethnic society. Interacting and communicating with people of different races in school allows Singaporeans to better understand the cultures and religions of others.
Most Singaporeans have common, but not identical, education experiences. In schools, pupils attend flag-raising and pledge taking ceremonies, celebrate occasions such as Racial Harmony Day, International Friendship Day and Total Defence Day and finally, they go through a similar education syllabus and take national exams. Allowing Singaporeans to have a common educational experience facilitates the building of national identity and enhances social cohesion.
Although the policy has been effectively implemented, it has its own flaws. For example, bilingualism often results in students having an average command of two languages, or only having an excellent command of a single language. Most of the time, students are just going through the motion when they take the pledge or sing the national anthem; a handful even take pride in altering the lyrics of the pledge. Celebrating occasions in schools does help to forge bonds between students however; many do not understand the purpose and meaning of commemorating these events.
To improve the situation of the negative side effects of bilingualism, perhaps certain non-examinable subjects like civics, music and art can be taught in mother tongue. Implementing strict army-style discipline during flag-raising ceremonies may help to deter fidgeting when the national anthem is being played.
Another policy is National Service (NS). NS brings Singaporean males from all walks of life and different religious, racial and social backgrounds together to defend Singapore. It has contributed to making Singapore stronger by making...