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Connecting youth with S’pore’s heritage

SINGAPORE — While most youth agree it is important to understand Singapore’s heritage, not many are keen to actively search for information on it, according to the findings of a survey of 600 young Singaporeans.

The team behind Avenue 1960s (from left) Ms Karen Koh, Ms Tan Huay Peng, Ms Candy Tan and 
Ms Phang Su Hui. 
Photo:  Dallas Wong

The team behind Avenue 1960s (from left) Ms Karen Koh, Ms Tan Huay Peng, Ms Candy Tan and
Ms Phang Su Hui.
Photo: Dallas Wong

SINGAPORE — While most youth agree it is important to understand Singapore’s heritage, not many are keen to actively search for information on it, according to the findings of a survey of 600 young Singaporeans.

Conducted by four undergraduates from the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information as part of their final-year project, the survey of youths aged 17 to 25 looked at respondents’ knowledge and perception about Singapore’s heritage. It was part of their campaign, Avenue 1960s, aimed at connecting young Singaporeans with their heritage.

The survey, conducted in the form of a questionnaire, showed that 85.6 per cent of respondents found it important to understand Singapore’s heritage, but only 15 per cent would seek out information about it. This is despite more than half (55 per cent) saying they felt there were widely-accessible materials on the topic.

“They are unable to relate directly to such experiences and are thus less inclined to take the first step,” said Ms Karen Koh, 22, one of the undergraduates. As such, the campaign, launched on Dec 15, seeks to create a platform that allows youth to glean knowledge from a source that is most personal to them — their parents.

“Most youths mix up heritage and history. Heritage is more about life stories on what happened back then,” said another of the four students, Ms Candy Tan, 22. The other team members are Ms Tan Huay Peng, 22, and Ms Phang Su Hui, 23.

“We are highlighting the most intimate source for these stories, which is their parents,” added Ms Tan.

For instance, one of the activities is the weekly Sunday Brunch Topic series on the campaign’s Facebook page. It encourages young people to ask their parents questions related to their lifestyles five decades ago.

The students took six months, starting from June last year, to prepare for the campaign. They interviewed about 30 people for their stories from the past and visited museums and festivals such as the Singapore Heritage Festival. The campaign will end with a final exhibition at the Arts House from Feb 19 to Feb 23 and a food trail in early March.

Noting that heritage is a “very broad topic”, Ms Koh said thorough research was vital for the team to extract the most interesting and relevant information that would appeal to youth. This includes information on topics such as games or the transport system.

“For me, I was very interested in the transport back then. I never knew there’s this term called bus 11. And bus 11 is not a real bus! It is a term used by a lot of locals back then because the number 11 actually looks like legs — it is actually by foot!” Ms Koh laughed.

Ms Phang added: “I think the take-away from the campaign is really to question youths on what else was there (in the 1960s). We want to trigger them to find out more and eventually, one day, we hope they can actively search for information about Singapore’s heritage.”

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