Traditional Chinese schools may have been phased out in the 70s, but their contributions remain relevant to today's educators, said Minister of State for Education Sim Ann yesterday.
Speaking to some 500 people at the launch of an exhibition entitled "Chinese Schools - A Lasting Legacy", she said: "Although many of these schools have faded into history, their contribution to education in Singapore deserves recognition and remembrance."
Moral education, which has always been important to these schools, also continues to "receive emphasis in education today, albeit in updated forms", said Ms Sim, who was the guest of honour at the event.
"The latest character and citizenship education (CCE) curriculum highlights core values such as respect for others, perseverance... and caring for others.
"Not only is CCE aimed at developing character, but it also develops a person's appreciation of family, society, the nation and the world. This approach is consistent with the values that were upheld by traditional Chinese-medium schools," she added.
Organised by the Federation of Chinese School Alumni Associations, the exhibition, which is open to the public, acknowledges the history of Chinese schools in Singapore.
Through a collection of over 1,000 artefacts - including old photographs, report books and school badges - it also aims to encourage younger Singaporeans to appreciate the role of Chinese schools in Singapore's early nation-building.
Madam Poon Sing Wah, vice-chairman of the organising committee of the exhibition and a former Lianhe Zaobao journalist, compiled a 250-page book of interviews with past students of these schools.
In her foreword as chief editor, she mentioned that, at their peak in 1950, Singapore had close to 350 traditional Chinese schools, with their students accounting for more than half of the total enrolment figures. They were subsequently phased out as part of Singapore's development.
Under the Government's Special Assistance Plan (SAP) scheme in 1979, some traditional Chinese schools were preserved and became SAP schools, which place equal emphasis on English and Mother Tongue.
Currently, there are a total of 11 SAP secondary schools, including Catholic High School, River Valley High School and Chung Cheng High School (Main).
"While they also used English as the medium of instruction, SAP schools have additional roles in preserving the ethos of the Chinese-medium schools and in promoting the learning of Chinese language and culture," said Ms Sim, in response to media queries.
The exhibition is open till July 20 at Hwa Chong Institution.
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