Another dot in the blogosphere?

Pledge to question

Posted on: August 25, 2018

There is a kindergarten at the foot of my apartment block and the air is clear enough for the kids voices to travel all the way up.

Some mornings I awake to a chorus of young voices reciting the Singapore Pledge. It is done in the usual sing-song English and in Mandarin.
 

 
I ask myself the usual question and give myself the usual answer:

  • Q: Are the nursery-age kids too young to understand they are saying?
  • A: Probably, but the exercise is not one of citizenship or patriotism. It is one of blind (or deaf) memorisation now and possibly deep understanding much later.

Then I ask myself something that someone born into the majority race here might not ask:

  • Q: If the pledge has been written in our four official languages, why do the kids just say it in two?
  • A: …

I do not have a good answer for that one. I grew up reciting the pledge only in English as that was common to all whatever their designated mother tongue was.

I can hazard a few guesses as to why the kids belt out the Pledge in English and then only Chinese.

  • One of the answers to an FAQ is the Pledge “may be recited in any of the four official languages”.
  • The kindergarten operator might justify the extra language as a value-added service.
  • There are no (or not enough) teachers who can ensure the quality of the Malay and Tamil versions of the Pledge.
  • The majority race attends and teaches, so the majority rules.

My guesses have roots that are more rotten the further you go down that list. I offer no solutions, but I pledge to keep questioning.

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