Civic conversation toolkit launched to help youths discuss issues on race, religion

‘Beneath the Surface’ will be distributed through self-help groups and Institutes of Higher Learning.

Fitri Mahad

Probably the only person that likes to hear the koels go ‘uwu’.

Published: 19 November 2022, 1:00 PM

In an effort to foster safe and open discussion on sensitive topics among youths, the National Youth Council (NYC) launched a civic conversation toolkit Beneath the Surface: A Civic Conversation on Race and Religion.

The first toolkit, consisting of conversation cards which were carefully curated by NYC, will focus on the topic of race and religion. 

In its unveiling on Saturday (Nov 19), Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information & Health Janil Puthucheary explained how conversations sparked by the toolkit are essential to social cohesion.

“This communication is especially important today because we have increasingly diverse views and experiences. We must appreciate our diversity while keeping our relationships and bonds with each other strong,” he said.

Created in collaboration with Bold at Work and The Whitehatters, the commemorative Forward SG civic conversation toolkit consists of question-based conversation cards that help facilitate “meaningful and respectful civil discussions on difficult topics”.

During the launch, 60 youths from the Singapore Indian Development Association (SINDA), MENDAKI, Chinese Development Assistance Council, and the Eurasian Association participated in an experiential breakout activity with the toolkit.


Some points raised by participants during the launch event included recognising internalised stereotypes and for more opportunities to meet people of different races and religions. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/FITRI MAHAD


Dr Janil shared that the toolkit was proposed by youth leaders Nazhath Faheema, founder of youth-led advocacy group hash.peace, and Ahmad Firdaus Daud who saw the need for more resources to facilitate respectful dialogues around sensitive issues.

Beneath the Surface began its development in April this year and underwent three prototype sessions from May to October. It involved up to 50 youths from groups including SINDA and EA, Youth Corps and youth networks like IUN, Varsity Voices and Holler!.

Insights from NYC’s Forward Singapore digital engagement campaign showed over 60 per cent of 800 youths agreeing that efforts to bridge differences in race and religious issues will be key in strengthening our social harmony. 

About 40 per cent also believed that more opportunities to share experiences and broaden perspectives, and greater openness in discussing differences, will help strengthen bonds with one another.

There are also plans to develop conversation cards facilitating discussions on local-foreign interactions and intergenerational differences. According to NYC’s Youth Sentiment Polls (2022), these issues were chosen by over 25 per cent of youths as issues which can affect social cohesion. 

The civic conversations toolkit will be distributed through self-help groups such as SINDA and MENDAKI, and student networks in Institutes of Higher Learning, such as the polytechnics and Institute of Technical Education (ITE). 

Interested organisations can also register interest for facilitation and toolkit workshops. 

NYC will launch a digital engagement campaign in December on mindsets and practices youths can acquire to engage in their own difficult conversations.

For more content about Forward SG and how youths can participate, click here.

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