By Crystal Lim
Every National Day, and the days leading up to it, schools in Singapore aim to foster in students a sense of pride in being Singaporean.
They do this by exhorting students to sing National Day songs and reciting "Recollections", which require students to reply collectively to narrations of Singapore's history with lines such as, "We pledge to keep our nation free, with justice and equality".
But do these ways truly work? Personally, as a student, I observed that not a lot of students took the exercise of rehearsing "Recollections" in class, or the singing National Day songs, seriously.
Most of us were laughing and joking when we were supposed to sing or give responses while we were doing "Recollections". On the other extreme end, there were students who refused to take part in either of these activities because they felt that the manner of such activities was reminiscent of Communist China whereby students were "forced" to be proud of their country through compulsory singing of nationalistic songs.
In both instances, the message of being proud of being Singaporean failed to get across to students.
In order to truly instil national pride in Singaporeans, we should examine the root cause of why Singaporeans are seemingly lacking in their pride of being Singaporean, so much so that the government has to make such attempts to instil pride in our students.
National pride cannot be forced out of our citizens. Pride has to be slowly cultivated and built up over time, so that when National Day comes around, we know that our citizens will naturally display their deep-rooted pride for Singapore without being pushed to.
Students in Singapore grow up in an extremely competitive environment and for most of us, life has become a routine of school, co-curricular activities, homework and tests. Somewhere in this routine, we have lost our sense of what it means to be Singaporean.
We should aim to make time for students in their busy schedule to explore various activities and realise what being Singaporean means to every individual.
Only through ways of cultivating deep-rooted national pride in students will we ensure that their pride do not fade away with the fireworks after National Day.