The S.U.R.E. Story (Part 2): Information Literacy in Education

In the age of the Internet, navigating and making sense of information clutter is vital. To encourage Singaporeans to be savvy about the sources and content of the information they receive every day, in 2013, the National Library Board (NLB) started promoting information literacy (IL) through the nationwide S.U.R.E. campaign.

S.U.R.E. is the acronym for Source, Understand, Research and Evaluate, a simplified set of core IL skills that is easy for the man in the street to understand and apply. S.U.R.E.’s aim is to nurture a nation of discerning users of information, who are able to search, evaluate and use information for their own needs, in a balanced and responsible way.

The objectives and strategies of the S.U.R.E. campaign were first laid out in “S.U.R.E. campaign: Promoting information literacy awareness to Singaporeans” and presented at the 2014 IFLA World Library and Information Congress[1]. In the second half of this two-part series, we provide updates on the campaign’s engagement and outreach efforts to schools and professionals.

The S.U.R.E. team's host of resources

The S.U.R.E. team’s host of resources

 Teaching Information Literacy in Schools

Teaching IL skills to students provides them with practical guidance on how to evaluate and use information sources for their school work. Research by Kvenild and Calkins (2011)[2] have pointed out that IL has greater impact on students if it is subject-specific, embedded into school syllabuses and taught at the time of need. In our collaboration with MOE, we heeded the research and integrated IL concepts into the lower secondary humanities and primary social studies curriculum.

As part of the campaign’s continuous outreach in schools, the team has conducted over 135 sessions, reaching out to 27,000 students in the first half of 2016 through school assembly talks and workshops. The Historical Inquiry talk, which covers the National Library Board‘s (NLB) online resources such as the Singapore Infopedia, NewspaperSG and Archives Online references, is the most popular with schools. The “Historical Investigation” component of the new history curriculum empowers students to take on active roles to research and learn about Singapore’s history[3]. Teachers and students have applauded the relevancy of the talk to their work.



The Historical Inquiry talk and Project Work talk in Temasek Junior College (top) and Nan Chiau High School (bottom)

The S.U.R.E. campaign team has also reached out to junior colleges and introduced NLB subscription databases and search strategies that are useful for their “A” Level Project Work[4], a component in their final grades. The team has also reached out to students taking the International Baccalaureate programme, Integrated Programme (IP) and private degrees.

As teachers and parents also play critical roles in a child’s learning, the team conducts equipping workshops and provides resources that range from one-page infographics to cheatsheets, videos and e-learning on a variety of topics such as exam preparation and critical thinking techniques.



(Top) A “S.U.R.E. workshop for Educators”; (Bottom) Children are welcome at the “Give Your Child a S.U.R.E. Advantage” parents’ workshop

In addition, over 120,000 copies of the Be S.U.R.E. handbook, a special compilation of resources and IL articles from the Straits Times’s educational supplement the IN Magazine, were distributed to secondary schools in 2016.

The Historical Science Investigation (HSI) Challenge

The Historical Scene Investigation (H.S.I.) Challenge is a detective-themed competition requiring students to pit their IL skills against one another in a race to seek, analyse and evaluate information to solve a local historical mystery. In 2015, 290 students learned research skills and wrote about how they used these skills to learn about Singapore’s history in the competition’s preliminary round. 15 shortlisted teams then competed in the final round to gather clues and solve the mystery of the “disappearance” of trolley buses in Singapore.



Students from Singapore Chinese Girls’ School (Secondary) (top) and Yio Chu Kang Secondary school (bottom) racing to complete the questions at HSI Challenge 2015

The NLB Prove It! Contest

In March 2016, a total of 400 students from 57 schools participated in the inter-school Prove It! contest. In the final round, 12 teams put their research skills to the test by tackling questions based on print and digital resources from the Lee Kong Chian Reference Library. Before the contest, students learned about the S.U.R.E. steps and library resources to bolster their research skills.

NLB 2016 Prove It! contest finalists

NLB 2016 Prove It! contest finalists

Workplace Information Literacy

“…information literacy and lifelong learning are the beacons of the information society, illuminating the courses to development, prosperity and freedom. Information Literacy lies at the core of lifelong learning. It empowers people in all walks of life to seek, evaluate, use and create information effectively to achieve their personal, social, occupational and educational goals. It is a basic human right in a digital world and promotes social inclusion of all nations.”

 “Beacons of the Information Society” (November 2005)[5]

The Alexandria Proclamation on Information Literacy and Lifelong Learning


The campaign team has worked in partnership with the WDA and NTUC Professionals, Managers & Executives (PME) unit to run Lunch and Learn sessions. At these sessions, industry professionals are invited to share topics of interest to workers after an introduction to the S.U.R.E. steps. Practical hands-on workshops on advanced searching techniques and library-subscribed databases for research are provided for organisations who sign up their employees for the courses. In addition, to enhance employability, the S.U.R.E. team also conducts information-searching talks for job seekers at The LLiBrary, a collaboration effort between NLB and WDA.



(Top and bottom) A Lunch & Learn session at the Singapore Workforce Development Agency


The information landscape has shifted dramatically over the past few decades. Hence, the nationwide S.U.R.E. campaign has strove to promote accessibility to credible sources, and evaluation and discernment in handling information to all citizens, so that everyone can reap the benefits of the information-rich era. Through strategic collaboration with partners, the initiative has focused on both practical and fun aspects of IL skills to ease their adoption into everyday life. With libraries as an integral part of a learning society, libraries and librarians play key roles to foster lifelong learning and advocate information literacy – both important skill sets and to live, learn and work in the Digital Age.


Contributed by Sara Pek, Manager  (Engagement), National Library


[1]  Tan, G., Wan, W.P. & Teo, J. (2014). “SURE Campaign: Promoting Information Literacy Awareness to Singaporeans.” IFLA WLIC 2014, Lyon. Retrieved June 16, 2016 from:

[2] Kvenild, C. & Calkins, K. (2011). Embedded Librarians: Moving Beyond One-Shot Instruction. Association of College & Research Libraries. Retrieved on June 16, 2016 from:

[3] Ministry of Education. (2014).  Lower Secondary History Teaching Syllabuses. Retrieved June 16, 2016, from

[4] Edward, D. (2012, April 11). Outcry over Project Work grades again. The New Paper.

[5] Horton, F.W. (2007). Understanding information literacy: A primer. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Retrieved June 16, 2016 from: