Half of youth flunk test on S'pore pioneers

When it comes to Singapore's pioneering political leaders, many youth are none the wiser. Almost one in two (49 per cent) of the young Singaporeans aged 16 to 25 quizzed flunked a street poll my paper conducted last week.

However, older youth performed better than their younger compatriots. The average score of those aged 21 to 25 was seven out of 12, whereas the average score for those aged 16 to 20 was five.

Eight people garnered a score of 10 or 11, and only one person had a perfect score. The bulk of respondents - 57 per cent - scored four to seven points.

In the survey, 100 people were asked to answer 12 multiple-choice questions on Singapore's post-independence leaders.

They were polled near several tertiary institutions, and at MRT stations and bus interchanges in different parts of the island.

The survey was conducted following former deputy prime minister Toh Chin Chye's death in early February, which sparked many comments about how little younger Singaporeans knew about the country's pioneers.

When approached by my paper, many youth were eager to take part in the poll. But just into the first three questions, brows furrowed when many respondents realised that they could not identify three pioneers from old photographs.

They were former deputy prime minister Goh Keng Swee; Dr Toh; and former social-affairs minister Othman Wok.

A staggering 82 per cent of the young Singaporeans were unaware that Mr Devan Nair was the first ethnically Indian president here.

Singapore's first Cabinet
Click on thumbnail to view (Photos: New Nation, ST)

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