Implicit in the recording of human experiences has always been the paradox of the public and the private.
The desire to note down the particularities of our experiences or to find similarity or otherness in the experiences of others is one that crosses all temporal and cultural boundaries to locate itself at the centre of the human condition.
It is in this spirit that Kwa Chong Guan approaches Remembering Dr Goh Keng Swee (1918—2010), our Spotlight article for this issue. Deconstructing the many facets of Dr Goh’s life, Kwa draws on the complex relationship we have with public figures to go beyond the persona of Dr Goh that has been captured by history. Painted is a holistic and comprehensive portrait of Dr Goh, reflecting both his penetrating insights into government policy as well as his social relationships and human concerns. The dimension we see of Dr Goh’s character in his willingness to look critically at situations rather than defer to politically correct standards is one that is both progressive and inspiring.
Continuing on this tack, Education for Living: Epitome of Civics Education? homes in on a key civics education programme in the 1970s that the Dr Goh-led Education Study team was especially critical of. The Education for Living programme was an initiative developed to inculcate social discipline, national identity, and civic and moral values in schoolchildren. Revealingly, the existence of such a programme in the 1970s reflects the fact that citizen solidarity has long been the focus of the Government imperative to forge a sense of national identity. Though a sense of belonging is one that we now often take for granted, one can trace its roots to now-defunct programmes such as Education for Living.
From a healthy mind to a healthy body; in the second part of Physical Education and Sports in Singapore Schools, Wee Tong Bao discusses how the implementation of a sports and games curriculum in the Singapore education system has contributed to our understanding of the importance of health and wellness as well as nurtured competitive sportsmanship among the youth. Such programmes are emblematic of the persistence of certain ideals to this very day, as evidenced by the excitement generated by Singapore’s hosting of the first Youth Olympic Games 2010. This interaction between Singaporean and international youth athletes has granted Singapore its greatest rewards — a sense of nationhood on the world’s stage and the beginnings of an enduring relationship with the international community.
The influence that nations and their diverse systems of belief have on each other is one that is well documented in Oiyan Liu’s The Educational Movement in Early 20th Century Batavia and its Connections with Singapore and China. In this essay, Liu expounds on the circulatory nature of teaching and learning in the context of the diasporic Chinese in the colonial and imperial port cities of the 1900s. These connections illustrate the dynamic relationship between academic, political and socio-cultural belief systems in geographically or ethnically related locations. Our awareness of the ever-shifting relationship between people, institutions and nations lends itself to the impetus for documentation, the collection of which is the heart of the National Library Board’s mission.
Finally, we highlight some of the materials in the National Library’s vast collection: a selection of publications relating to Dr Goh Keng Swee; and Willis’ Singapore Guide (1936). These collection highlights are an open invitation to you, dear readers, to come and explore the library. Perhaps within these walls you may find something which speaks to your experience of the world. the world.
Ms Ngian Lek Choh