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  • 1. RAFFLES INSTITUTION The Importance OfCulture Among Youths In Singapore Year 2 Research Education 2011 Group Members Muhammad Ridhwan (2G) Raiyan See (2G) Syafiq (2G) Shohib Marican (2G)
  • 2. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTSWe would like to express our gratitude to the following individuals for their kind assistanceand cooperation, without which the completion of this Design For Change project would nothave been possible.Mrs Heryanti Suhaimy, our Research Education teacher mentor, for taking her time off toconsult with us, to advise us on the direction we are taking, to propose new ideas andsuggestions, to access the effectiveness of our proposals, to vet our reports and presentationsand for being an understanding teacher mentor who is always ready to help and who alwaysencourages us to strive for the better.Our interviewees, Muhammad Alfian and Mr Abdul Wahab Marican for taking valuabletime off work to give us a better understanding of the current problems faced by youths todayregarding their own individual cultures, as well as providing us with relevant informationrelating to the three different cultures in Singapore to aid in the completion of our Design ForChange project.Last but not least, all those who have contributed in completing the online surveys. Withoutwhom, we would not have come up with such an effective course of action during the ActionWeek. 2
  • 3. TABLE OF CONTENTS1.0 INTRODUCTION 1.1 Choice of Topic 1.2 Rationale for Choice 1.3 Aims and Objectives 1.4 Target Audience 1.5 Proposed Course of Action2.0 BACKGROUND RESEARCH 2.1 History of Cultures in Singapore 2.2 Who is affected? 2.3 Severity of Current Situation 2.4 Solutions for the issue 2.5 How did we arrive at the Solutions?3.0 PREPARATION FOR ACTION WEEK 3.1 Brief Description of Action Plan 3.2 Work Allocation 3.3 Timeline of Tasks 3.4 Resource Management 3.5 Risk Management 3
  • 4. 3.6 Who Is Involved? 3.7 Survey 3.7.1 Survey data analysis 3.8 Interviews4.0 ACTION WEEK 4.1 Actions, Processes and Impact of Actions5.0 REFLECTIONS 5.1 Objectives Met/ Why? 5.2 Objectives Not Met/ Why? 5.3 Our Thoughts 5.3.1 ‘I Can’ Reflection 5.3.2 Strengths and Weaknesses of Team 5.3.3 Challenges Encountered Within Team 5.3.4 Learning Points 5.3.5 Improvements to be madeBibliography 4
  • 5. 1.0 INTRODUCTION1.1 Choice of TopicWe have chosen the topic of the importance of cultures in Singapore. As Singapore is amultiracial society, we want to encourage youths to be more knowledgeable about thedifferent cultures in Singapore to ensure that they would learn to be more tolerant towardseach other.1.2 Rationale for ChoiceSingapore is growing to be more diverse and multicultural. Hence, Singaporeans have to bevery tolerant towards each other as people have different backgrounds and cultures.Without the knowledge on the various cultures in Singapore such as the Chinese, Malay andIndian cultures, people will not be able to get along well with one another as the uniquepractices of a specific culture might not seem to be appropriate by other people. Therefore,by gaining insights into the various cultures in Singapore, youths will gain a deeperunderstanding of the different practices carried out by each ethnic group and will grow tobe more tolerant and understanding.1.3 Aims and ObjectivesWe have embarked on this Design for Change project with an objective in mind. Throughthis project, our objective is to make a change for the better by encouraging youths to bemore knowledgeable and gain a deeper understanding of the different cultures in 5
  • 6. Singapore – Malay, Chinese and Indian culture, by helping them discover more about thevarious cultures through a variety of ways which includes informative posters and games.1.4 Target AudienceThe course of action that will be carried out by our group during the Action Week will beaimed at impacting youths aged 13-15. The current lack of emphasis on the differentcultures in Singapore is a worrying problem as youths will forget their roots and will not beable to associate themselves well with their own culture when they grow up in future.Therefore, this project is targeted at a younger audience to ensure that youths will notforget the significance of their own cultures when they grow older.1.5 Proposed Course of ActionAfter much research work, our group has created a course of action that would be carriedout during Action Week. An informative booth will be set-up at the RI Main Atrium from19-21 July 2011 from 2.30 – 3.30pm to allow students to learn more about the differentcultures in Singapore and the important role that culture plays in this multicultural society.In addition, students will also be able to discover more about traditional games by playingthem as we will be going around the school, mainly the Junior Block to introduce thesegames to students. This action plan will definitely be able to benefit students as it is fun,educational and interactive at the same time. 6
  • 7. 2.0 BACKGROUND RESEARCH2.1 History of Cultures in SingaporeEach of the different cultures in Singapore has its own unique background and history.Although each culture might be very different from one another, Singaporeans of variousbackgrounds still come together as a united and multiracial society. Today, the youths ofSingapore play an important role of passing down the traditions to the next generation andwe can follow in the footsteps of our forefathers who have come together as one nationdespite being in differing ethnic groups to help Singapore prosper.2.2 Who is affected?In Singapore’s modern society today, the youths play the important role of passing downthe traditions of various cultures to the next generation of teenagers in Singapore. If youthsare not knowledgeable about their cultures and do not understand the importance of it,passing down traditions to the next generation will be a very difficult task. Therefore, thegroup of people who would be affected the most by the problem of the lack of culturalawareness is youths.2.3 Severity of Current SituationThe problem of the lack of awareness about the different cultures among youths can giverise to other related problems such as the lack of tolerance. When youths do not 7
  • 8. understand the different cultural backgrounds of each other, they will not be able to acceptthe practices of other cultures. Hence, the level of tolerance among youths will drop due tothe lack of knowledge and understanding of the different cultures in Singapore.2.4 Solutions for the IssueAfter conducting surveys and doing much research work, our group has come up with a 7-day action plan. Our plan of action which will be carried out during the Action Week keepsin mind the purpose of educating students about the importance of culture andencouraging youths to associate themselves to their own individual culture by experiencingactivities related to the three main cultures in Singapore – Malay, Chinese and Indiancultures. Our group will come up with an educational poster which allows students tobetter understand the reason behind the importance of culture in our daily lives andinteresting snippets/ quick facts about the different cultures in Singapore. In addition, ourgroup of four members will be going around the school campus to get students toexperience playing the different traditional games. From these activities, we hope toencourage youths to be more knowledgeable about the different cultures as they play animportant role in uniting everyone together as one people.2.5 How did we arrive at the Solutions?From the surveys conducted, we observed that many students in RI are not well acquaintedwith their own individual cultures. Therefore, the most effective way is to set up a booth toeducate students about the importance of culture and tolerance in the community. Through 8
  • 9. this way, students will not only get to learn but to appreciate and associate themselves withtheir cultures. 9
  • 10. 3.0 PREPARATION FOR ACTION WEEK3.1 Brief Description of Action PlanAn informative booth containing a poster with information on the importance of cultures inour daily lives and snippets of the various cultures in Singapore will be set-up at the RIMain Atrium from 19-21 July 2011 from 2.30 – 3.30pm to allow students to gain a betterunderstanding about the different cultures in Singapore and the important role that cultureplays in this multicultural society. In addition, our group will be going around the school tointroduce traditional games to students so that they will be able to discover more abouttraditional games by playing them. This action plan will bring benefits to students as theactivities are fun, educational and interactive3.2 Work AllocationIn this Design For Change project, many components are required to be completed. Firstly,there is the survey, where survey questions have to be crafted carefully. Secondly, is theseven-day action plan. For this, team members have to work together to come up with anaction plan or solution to improve on the current situation faced by the majority of youthstoday. Next, the project report has to be completed including the abstract, introduction,survey results, methodology and the rest of the components. With so many tasks to becompleted, the work load needs to be allocated accordingly, to ensure that deadlines aremet promptly. 10
  • 11. For the crafting of the survey questions every group member contributed at least 2 or morequestions. Next, the group members came together during the Research education periodto brainstorm solutions that would be effective to improve the current situation. Aftercoming up with ideas, we as a group, decided to set up a booth and design an informativeand visually attractive poster that would capture the attention of students. Furthermore,the action plan included the traditional games. The report was done by all the members.Each of us was given a chapter of the report to write. After everyone completed their part,the different parts were incorporated to produce the final report.3.3 Timeline of TasksThe survey questions were completed by term 2, week 2. The survey questions had to becrafted early because the data from the results were very important as it serves as aprimary source of information to assess how knowledgeable youths are about the variouscultures. Secondly, the action plan for Action Week was completed by term 3, week 1 toprepare for the Action Week that took place in term 3, week 4, from 19-21 July 2011 at theRI main atrium. After the completion of the action plan, the poster designs were preparedby term 3, week 2 to ensure that finishing touches and modifications were given sufficienttime to be completed. In addition, the final report was to be finalized by term 3, week 6 forthe submission to our respective teacher mentor. The oral presentation was also finishedby term 3, week 6 to ensure that there was enough time for each group member to preparecue cards for the actual presentation itself.3.4 Resource Management 11
  • 12. For our Design For Change project, our group does not require much funding as thematerials needed are not expensive and are not needed in large quantities. The onlyfunding needed is for the poster and the traditional games. For the poster, the plastic boardis already provided. Hence, our group only needs to pay for the cost of printing the relevantarticles that will be pasted onto the plastic board. Coloured papers are also needed to makethe poster even more appealing to students.In the area concerning manpower, our number of people in the group is already sufficientto carry out the different activities proposed during the Action Week. The group will bestationed at the RI Main atrium after school from 19-21 July 2011 to supervise the booth.Furthermore, our group does not require any other for of help from other individuals as wewill be able to go around the school to introduce the traditional games of different culturesto students from the different levels. For the time factor, not much time is needed as theactivities can be done in a rather short time frame. Therefore, other involvements,including CCAs would not be interrupted by this project.3.5 Risk ManagementIn the process of completing this project, our group has taken a few risks but we still tryour best to keep to our specific deadlines and requirements. For some of tasks given, wewere unable to manage and prioritise our time well. Thus, we end up having to rushthrough some parts of the project in order to meet the deadline of the submission of thesetasks. Despite this problem, our group managed to keep to our plan and timeline. Thus, wewere still able to complete tasks given on time and produce good quality work. 12
  • 13. 3.6 Who Is Involved?In our Design For Change project, the parties involved in this project are our groupmembers and the students who will visit our booth that is located at the RI Main Atrium.Furthermore, we will also be going around the school to introduce the different traditionalgames to students. Therefore, the students who participate in playing these games will alsobe involved in the completion of the project.3.7 SurveyThe survey questions are carefully crafted to test the awareness of youths about the threedifferent cultures in Singapore. In addition, the survey responses will allow us to find out ifyouths today really care and know about the importance of culture.We are a group of students from Raffles Institution and we are conducting a surveyto assess how much you know about the various cultures in Singapore. Please fill inthis survey with your honest answers. We really appreciate your time in helping uscomplete this survey.1. Do you think culture is important? Very Important Important Not Important Useless 13
  • 14. 2. Why do you think Culture is important? It helps us to understand our selves better It helps us to preserve our roots. It can serve as a purpose to unify a community Not Important It makes us unique and differentiates us from the rest Other:From here onwards, there will be a few questions on the different cultures withinSingapore.3. Is Hari Raya Puasa the Muslim’s New Year? Yes No4. Are the moon cake festivals and the lantern festivals the same? Yes No5. What is the dot on the Indian womans head? Bindi Fullstop Puttu 14
  • 15. 6. Do you agree with the statement that most racial problems are caused with a lack of tolerance due to lack of understanding of the different culture? Yes No7. Singapore is a multiracial society, do you think that learning about cultures helps us to tolerate one another better? Yes No8. Do you agree that to understand others culture, you must first have a good grasp of your own? Yes No 15
  • 16. 3.7.1 Survey Data Analysis1. Do you think culture is important? Answer No. Of Percentage responses Very 16 40% Important Important 19 48% Not 4 10% Important Useless 1 3%2. Why do you think Culture is important? 16
  • 17. Answer No. of Percentage responses It helps us to understand our selves better 8 20% It helps us to preserve our roots. 19 46% It can serve as a purpose to unify a 8 20% community Not Important 3 7% It makes us unique and differentiates us 1 2% from the rest Others 2 5%3. Is Hari Raya Puasa the Muslim’s New Year? Answer No. of responses Percentage Yes 15 37% No 25 61% 17
  • 18. 4. Are the moon cake festivals and the lantern festivals the same? Answer No. of responses Percentage Yes 23 56% No 18 44%5. What is the dot on the Indian womans head? Answer No. of responses Percentage Bindi 25 61% Fullstop 4 10% Puttu 11 27% 18
  • 19. 6. Do you agree with the statement that most racial problems are caused with a lack of tolerance due to lack of understanding of the different culture? Answer No. of responses Percentage Yes 36 88% No 4 10%7. Singapore is a multiracial society, do you think that learning about cultures helps us to tolerate one another better? Answers No. of responses Percentage Yes 37 90% No 4 10% 19
  • 20. 8. Do you agree that to understand others culture, you must first have a good grasp of your own? Answer No. of responses Percentage Yes 32 78% No 8 20% 20
  • 21. 3.8 InterviewsFor this project we interviewed firstly, Muhammad Alfian Bin Aman from 2Q and AbdulWahab Marican, a freelance tour-guide, self employed in the service industry and also amotivational speaker. We decided on the two of them as I think they can provide us withtwo differing viewpoints as they are complete opposites with one being experienced andmore of a traditional mindset while one is more modern. Also we can get a feel as to howour target audience would respond as Alfian represents our target audience. I feel thatAbdul Wahab Marican is an expert in culture as he is a tour guide well versed in thecultures of Singapore. He too does cultural workshops for EDN and the likes thus thecombination of these two interviews should provide us with a balanced insight on what weshould be tackling.Interview Transcript:1. Do you think culture is important and why do you think so?Abdul Wahab Marican’s responseYes I always feel culture is important since culture is what makes us unique. Withoutculture, there won’t be a Singapore, we will just be another faceless country obsessed withthe west. However if we uphold our culture, Singapore can still have an identity. We are amulticultural society, which have tolerated each other for years. Our cultures are whatdefine us to be as one. We are many, but we come together to form Singapore, to nurture 21
  • 22. Singapore, to make Singapore what it is today. We have to preserve our culture. Other thanmaking us unique, it makes sure we don’t forget our roots. Our cultures are what keeps usgrounded. It helps us to understand our past more therefore not allowing us to be tooobsessed with the idea of progress and take a step back to appreciate the simple things inlife such as our traditions. Also, with culture we all will be able to learn all the values whichour forefathers have been passing down. These Asian values which are held close to ourheart. Such as the Thai Pu Sam festival, where they poke themselves! This is a true sign offaith! Can you see this in the western culture? No. We have to preserve our culture. Also wehave to understand our own culture before we can learn to tolerate other cultures. This iswhy we have to learn cultures. Before we can tolerate we must understand and tounderstand others first, we must understand ourselves. Then can we develop our empathytowards other Cultures. This is why. We have to preserve culture.Alfian’s responsePeople always say culture is important in your life because well, you should never forgetyour roots and where you came from. But personally, I think culture is not important.Firstly, it does not bring any benefit to you if you know every single thing about culture,because you can’t get into Oxford anyway with that knowledge of culture, and in addition tothat, Singaporeans nowadays have a different mindset – they are now more materialisticand getting a good job, with a big house, big car, etc is what their goal is. Thus, since culturedoes not play a part in helping Singaporeans achieve this I do not think culture isimportant. 22
  • 23. I also think culture is a waste of time because in my culture, the Malay culture, there aresome restrictions and that sort. An example would be the stages before you get married. If Iwere to get married in 10 years, I would prefer getting married straightaway and notwasting time and money because if I were to follow what has been encouraged in the Malayculture, I would have to propose, get engaged, send in gifts, put on henna, solemnization,get bathed in lime water, and lastly, the wedding ceremony. If I were to have it my ownway, I would only have solemnization and the wedding ceremony. This would in total savea whole lot of money and time.Lastly, the use of technology has more effect on everyone faster and better than theknowledge of one’s culture. People nowadays are too focused on their own electricaldevices to the extend that they won’t have time to learn and get to know more about theirculture because I believe they don’t even think it’s that important to deserve theirattention. This just shows how irrelevant culture is in today’s context.People always say culture is important in your life because well, you should never forgetyour roots and where you came from. But personally, I think culture is not important.Firstly, it does not bring any benefit to you if you know every single thing about culture,because you can’t get into Oxford anyway with that knowledge of culture, and in addition tothat, Singaporeans nowadays have a different mindset – they are now more materialisticand getting a good job, with a big house, big car, etc is what their goal is. Thus, since culturedoes not play a part in helping Singaporeans achieve this I do not think culture isimportant. 23
  • 24. 4.0 ACTION WEEK4.1 Actions, Processes and Impact of ActionsFor our action week, we did a poster for our school organized Design For Change week.This poster was then placed on a board in the main atrium for three days (19-21 July2011). We were assigned to stay there and explain our projects to interested people. Wewould also give explanations on the importance of culture and also various snippets ofinteresting facts on our very colourful cultures right here in Singapore.We went and explain how people travel all over the world to experience different cultures,but do not even appreciate the diverse cultures that are already here in our own backyard.Moreover we also went around the whole year 1-4 campus for day 4 and 5 to educate theschool on cultures. We used an interesting tactic by introducing to them a cultural gameand after teaching them how to play it, we would then proceed to explain the importance ofculture before approaching the next person.For day 6, 3 of the group members proceeded to participate in the Malay traditionalinstruments performance and subsequently thought the juniors how to play thisinstrument to show that we can walk the walk in this project. Lastly, we spent a dayexplaining to our class on the importance of culture and also teach the class a simplekompang beat to cap it all off. We may have started small but I believe that this can causethe ripple effect and our small contribution will snowball and become a big change inSingapore’s society. From this project, students were able to benefit from the activities as 24
  • 25. they became more aware of the importance of culture and how culture unites people fromdifferent backgrounds as one society and one nation. 25
  • 26. 5.0 REFLECTIONS5.1 Objectives Met/ Why?Our objectives, as stated in the introduction were to educate our target audience on theimportance of culture and we think that we have achieved this. We managed to convey ourmessage across to a large spread of our students - target audience and we know andbelieve that this can spark a change in the mindsets of youths towards culture. We reallythink that we had successfully carried out the project in a fun and engaging way and ourparticipants have benefitted from it.5.2 Objectives Not Met/ Why?However, we cannot be too sure as to if we succeeded as there is no clear measure of howwell we executed our project. It is all very subjective. Also I feel that maybe more thoughtcould have been given on how we could approach the action week and perhaps do more interms of that. Also, maybe our survey was also a little to superficial and we should testmore deeper knowledge like common misconceptions that may lead to racial tensions.Other than that though I felt that our project was a success! 26
  • 27. 5.3 Our Thoughts 5.3.1 ‘I Can’ ReflectionI can. That is the attitude that we all have gained after going through this Design ForChange process. We took a problem that can split the society, and we tried to solve it in ourcommunity. We started small. But, this effort goes a long way into preventing racialtensions that may jeopardize the safety of the nation. Really, I can is the attitude. Four 14year old students can make a difference in the country today after going through thisprocess. We can prevent nations from collapsing. We can solve big problems at a smallscale. 5.3.2 Strengths and Weaknesses of TeamOur team’s strength was perhaps our creativity and our ingenuity. We were able to createthings out of nothing. We also have good teamwork and are committed to the task at hand.Not afraid of burning the midnight oil. Our topic was not the most creative one, but how weapproached it perhaps can be an effective way. We managed to pull a rabbit out of a hat aswe managed to fulfil all requirements despite our lack of time due to our busy schedules.Perhaps our main weakness was our time management. We procrastinated a lot especiallyduring the planning stages and ended up way far behind time. We should really try tomanage our time better. Perhaps a more detailed schedule may help in this aspect. 27
  • 28. 5.3.3 Challenges Encountered Within TeamOur main challenges were perhaps our busy schedules. That is the main challenge, yes. Weare all involved in various sports CCAs thus, a lot of our free time was taken up. Also webarely gave a thought to the task at hand, procrastinating all the way till the final few weeksbefore the deadline. We also felt that maybe we all had a few misunderstandings at thestart due to our indecisiveness to choose a topic. Other than that, our challenges weremainly brought about by our weaknesses. 5.3.4 Learning PointsA few learning points could be taken from this project. These include that no matter howyoung we are and how insignificant our contributions might seem, we can make a changefor the better. We also have learnt to stop procrastinating and do work more consistentlyinstead of burning the midnight oil. We have also learnt many interesting facts aboutdifferent cultures and also how all of us come together to make the Singapore Spirit. Thissense of multiculturalism that translates into one whole machine known as the SingaporeSpirit. 5.3.5 Improvements to be made 28
  • 29. A few improvements can be made to further improve on our project in the future. Theseimprovements include our attitude towards the project, the survey and also the action plan.Students interested in pursuing this topic further should survey the people and targetaudience more in depth. Also, we think that the action plan can be made into a one weekcultural enhancement week which can run as a programme concurrent to the MotherTongue Week initiative that the government had just put in place. This will then make thewhole project more effective. 29
  • 30. BIBLIOGRAPHYElectronic Sources: (2009, October 07). Speeches. Ministry of Education Singapore. Retrieved August 09, 2011, from http://www.moe.gov.sg/media/speeches/2009/10/07/unesco-35- session.php (2010). Singapore Culture. Best Singapore Guide. Retrieved June 4, 2011, from http://www.best-singapore-guide.com/Singapore-culture.html (2011). Singapore Cultural Statistics 2011. 64. Retrieved August 6, 2011, from http://app.mica.gov.sg/ M. (2010). What Brings Us Together?. Resonance, (14), 12. Retrieved August 06, 2011, from http://app.mica.gov.sg/Papers: H. (2010, August 09). Embracing all cultures. The Straits Times, Life. 10. H. (2011). Notes. Bonding Singapore, 8. 30
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