A year after alleged murder in school, RVHS community has moved forward: MOE, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

A year after alleged murder in school, RVHS community has moved forward: MOE

On July 19 last year, a 16-year-old River Valley High School (RVHS) student allegedly murdered a fellow student, 13, in school.

One year on, the RVHS community has been able to move forward together, the Ministry of Education (MOE) said on Saturday (July 16).

Responding to queries from The Straits Times, MOE said this was done with the overwhelming care, support and encouragement from Singaporeans.

The MOE spokesman said that over the past year, RVHS has made a concerted effort to look out for students and staff who need socio-emotional support.

"The school has been resourced with additional counsellors, and conducts mental well-being awareness talks for its students.

"Teachers actively seek to engage students with different learning and social-emotional needs and seek to establish a caring and enabling school environment," said the spokesman.

With the easing of Covid-19 safe management measures, RVHS has been able to resume school life and activities, MOE said.

Its students have actively participated in various school experiences such as orientations, hikes, learning journeys, the Singapore Youth Festival and the National School Games.

The campus has also been refurbished to create a warm and caring environment for the school community, MOE said.

It added that the school has also set up a student development hub to provide one-stop access to student wellness services, and a student activity centre to provide more spaces for student-led activities.

"All these measures have had a positive impact on RVHS students," said the MOE spokesman.

On July 19 last year, the suspect was taken into custody by the police and charged with murder the next day.

On July 27, Education Minister Chan Chun Sing delivered a statement in Parliament to address concerns from parents and the community, and from MPs who had filed parliamentary questions on the incident.

In his statement, Mr Chan included some of the new measures that MOE would be taking following the incident.

Providing an update on these measures on Saturday, the MOE spokesman said that since July last year, 130 more teachers have been deployed as teacher-counsellors in schools.

Mr Chan had said the total number of such teacher-counsellors, who work alongside school counsellors, was 700 in July last year and that MOE wanted to deploy more than 1,000 of them in the next few years.

The spokesman added that schools have dedicated further time and space to look out for the well-being of students at the start of every school term and MOE has strengthened teachers' mental health literacy progressively through further professional development.

Said the spokesman: "This includes understanding and recognising symptoms related to common mental health issues, using strategies to de-escalate strong emotions and impulsive behaviour, and facilitating classroom conversations on mental health with sensitivity."

In his statement, Mr Chan had said MOE would be continuing to enhance security measures in schools in a targeted manner.

When asked about these measures, the spokesman said on Saturday that MOE regularly reviews its security procedures.

The ministry said students and staff are trained on what they need to do in security emergencies, whether in schools or when they are outside.

The spokesman said: "MOE recognises that schools must be a safe place for learning, but also a place where students and staff are comfortable to socialise, interact and forge bonds with one another.

"We are mindful not to turn our schools into fortresses, which will run counter to our intent of building warm and inviting learning environments for our students."

The MOE spokesman added that the ministry is also working with parent support groups to expand their role to connect with one another and render help to parents whose children and families may need more support.

The spokesman said RVHS has also worked with its parent-teacher association to organise talks and workshops for the wider parent community, sharing tips and advice in the area of supporting their children's well-being.

"We recognise that it will take time for the RVHS community to completely heal and recover. MOE and the entire education fraternity stand in full support for RVHS," said the spokesman.

"We will continue to work closely with the school to look out for those in need, and provide all necessary support to them."