Monday, 15th July 2024

Monday, 15th July 2024

Total Defence Day: Are our students ready for national disruptions?

22 Feb 2024

Our schools were part of over 500 organisations that participated in Exercise SG Ready, Singapore’s first island-wide Total Defence exercise. Students went through simulated shortages of food, power and water. Let’s hear more about their experiences.

By Arielene Wee


Schools across the country commemorated 40 years of Total Defence Day on 15 and 16 February 2024 by participating in the inaugural Exercise SG Ready, which simulated disruptions of food, power and water supply.

These disruptions, which could stem from various sources like cyberattacks, geopolitical tensions or even natural disasters, relay the importance of our six pillars of Total Defence: Military, Civil, Economic, Social, Digital and Psychological Defence.

Our schools were part of over 500 organisations that participated in Exercise SG Ready, Singapore’s first island-wide Total Defence exercise. Held between 15-29 February 2024, the full exercise, known in short as TD40, also simulated disruptions such as disinformation campaigns, phishing, and drone attacks.

This year’s campaign, “Together We Keep Singapore Strong”, emphasises the many ways that Singaporeans can put Total Defence into action in our everyday lives.

At Rivervale Primary School, all the taps and water coolers were shut off to simulate a water disruption.

Total Defence Day_2

Total Defence Day_3With the taps and water coolers shut off, students had to queue to wash their hands using a pail of water during recess.

Each class had to share a pail of water, which students rationed for their use. 

“This exercise teaches students to be more prudent in using water for their daily activities, and helps them to develop greater preparedness and resilience when they respond to unexpected situations,” explains Mr Seah Jin Yang, a teacher in Rivervale Primary who co-planned the exercise.

Reflecting on his school’s water disruption, Primary 4 student Aiden bin Juraimi shares, “I realised that many people waste water by leaving the tap on while they brush or shower. I have learnt to use less water so that I won’t run out of it during an actual crisis.”

At Cedar Girls’ School, students experienced a food disruption. Instead of being able to purchase food in the canteen as usual, students received ready-to-eat meals which are convenient to access in the event of an emergency.

Total Defence Day_4These ready-to-eat meals were designed by the Singapore Food Agency and SATS (Changi Airport’s in-flight catering service provider), and incorporate local produce like spinach and mushrooms.

Meanwhile, at Jurong West Secondary School, fans and lights were switched off for a period of time to simulate a power disruption.

Total Defence Day_5A “blackout” at Jurong West Secondary School.

“There is generally a mentality of abundance, as students have not experienced shortages of food, water and electricity like what their grandparents or their great-grandparents have,” says Mrs Angie Liu, Rivervale Primary’s Year Head, Middle Primary. “Experiencing such a disruption helps them understand that they cannot take resources they have for granted. Everybody plays a part in total defence.”

Speaking about what he learnt from Total Defence Day in school, Rivervale’s Primary 2 student Maghilan Ashok Kumar shares, “If we work together as a team, we can succeed in defending and helping Singapore in times of challenges.”

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