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MOE responds to critiques on Israel-Hamas conflict education

Amidst social media critique, the Ministry of Education defends its balanced teaching on the Israel-Hamas conflict, emphasizing empathy and critical thinking in lessons, despite concerns over content neutrality and historical depth.



SINGAPORE: In light of growing concerns and criticism on social media about educational content related to the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict, the Ministry of Education (MOE) clarified its stance and teaching approach on Friday.

The ministry emphasized that educators are committed to delivering balanced lessons without imposing personal views or favouring any parties involved in the conflict.

The discourse began after several posts surfaced online, questioning the neutrality and comprehensiveness of the curriculum covering the tumultuous events in Gaza.

Critics, which included parents, pointed out the lack of historical context in lessons, which start from the events of 7 October, neglecting the seven-decade-long conflict between Israel and Palestine.

Additionally, there were concerns that teachers were restricted to the prescribed material, limiting further discussion.

The MOE responded by highlighting the curriculum’s focus on fostering empathy among younger students and encouraging older students to critically assess information sources and appreciate diverse perspectives.

These lessons form part of the Character and Citizenship Education (CCE) program, initiated in February this year, designed to cover contemporary issues, including the Israel-Hamas conflict.

Despite the one-hour lesson constraint and the time needed to prepare resources, the curriculum only covers developments from 7 October up to December 2023.

This period has seen significant escalations, with international calls for action growing as civilian casualties rise.

Recent developments include a world court order in January for Israel to prevent acts of genocide in its operations against Hamas in Gaza and three United Nations Security Council draft resolutions for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, vetoed primarily by the United States.

In its defence, the MOE stated that its lessons aim to provide a safe environment for students to comprehend the complexities of the situation and form their own opinions. The curriculum includes discussions on various contemporary issues, such as casual racism, mental well-being, and other global conflicts like the Russia-Ukraine war.

However, some educational materials have come under scrutiny for omitting critical information.

Lesson slides include a brief summary of key events in the Israel-Palestine conflict since 1948 and a summary of Hamas, highlighting its non-recognition of Israel’s right to exist.

Notably absent were mentions of Israel’s non-recognition of a Palestinian state and recent accusations against Israel of committing acts of genocide against Palestinians.

One unhappy parent shared how she had to show the child the background of the conflict, all the way back to Nakba – the mass displacement and dispossession of some 430,000 Palestinians during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, and how the child is being confused by the information presented by MOE.

The omission of crucial data, particularly around Israel’s blatant disregard for human lives in Gaza, has sparked debate among parents and the public, with some questioning MOE’s portrayal of Israel in the lessons for the children.

An open letter from a group of concerned parents urgently calls on the MOE to revisit and rectify the approach schools are taking to teach and discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The letter outlines specific concerns regarding the accuracy of historical narratives, the framing of the conflict, the omission of key humanitarian issues, and the potential for misinformation to foster misunderstanding and discrimination among students.

It urges the MOE to ensure that educational content is balanced, thoroughly vetted, and presented in a manner that fosters critical thinking and empathy.

The Gaza Health Ministry reported on 21 February that since the war began on 7 October, a total of 69,333 people have been injured in Gaza, in addition to 29,313 deaths.

The final death toll from the 7 October attack by Hamas is now estimated to be 695 Israeli civilians, including 36 children, as well as 373 security forces and 71 foreigners, totalling 1,139 casualties.

It is important to note that some of the fatalities on 7 October were from Israeli forces; for example, an Israeli helicopter opened fire on Israelis at a festival as Hamas fighters were hiding among the crowd.

Additionally, the Hannibal Directive, a policy of the Israeli military, mandates that no hostage should be taken, authorizing lethal force against its own citizens and forces to prevent such situations.

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Please remember MOE also called LKY our founding father. Nuff said.

Palestinians asked for it. Did they allow terrorists to build tunnels for terrorists? tsk tsk tsk

Let me guess who are the parents not happy with MOE presentation of this issue.
They wear tudang ,grow goatie kind. And every Friday pray for forgiveness of sins but sin again the next day. And 50% of them re-offend.
Tio boh?😆😆😆🤣🤣🤣

Is it A PURE BIE LIE of this PAP Millionaire Administration when it claimed it’s NOT Populist?

Hahaha who doubt PAP is clean and pure.

Rob SG Nat Savings and Reserves, over charged GST, this and that – really?

Looks like many fails to appreciate facts, incl this PAP Administration which controls the entire SG Govt service which MUST NOT and IS NOT to serve, the Political Objectives and Requirements to control SG and dictates It’s Narratives to FAKE SG and to Fake SG intelligence which this PAP has stunted and crimped Lay out all the bare and true facts ALL the way, if education NEED to be COMPREHENSIVE and UNBIAS. And avoid descriptives based on emotions and morals and take moral high ground. Killing is killing NOTHING to do with genocide whoever does it. For eg. avoid words… Read more »

MOE is now teaching cotton come from sheep, how balance could it be!

If the ruling government really wants to touch on the Israel-Hamas conflict. They can always start from how the Arab world launched a surprise attack on Israel in 1948 and how Israel managed to survive despite all odds.

This is after all a consequence of the ruling government’s adversity to teaching Singaporeans critical thinking skills.

There is a sizeable chunk of the population that believe Iranian / Hamas propaganda as fact now. A big congratulations to the millionaires ministers.

Why start on. Oct. 7th 2023? Have the children been told that Hamas was created in the last century by the Israeli government to ensure there is no Palestinian State? MOE ‘s narrative is pro- Israel. As my fellow contributor Laughing Gor, has said MOE should not have introduced this subject in schools. As I have written previously even the nos. of those killed on Oct. 7th 2023 were due to Israeli forces itself. Hamas wanted to kidnap not kill as they needed the hostages to negotiate a release of thousands of prisoners in Israeli prisons who have had no… Read more »

MOE should not have brought in this topic on Israel-Hamas conflict for all schools to discuss in the first place. Different teachers have their own opinions and how differently they can impart the knowledge to all pupils, is the main concern. Take a gun for example. A gun placed on a table is just as innocent. But it is who is going to use it is the main concern. To avoid this worry, the best solution is not to have a gun in the first place. Same thing in this MOE case. We can discuss the history on why and… Read more »

Very correct.

Race – Israelis/Jews/Hebrews had been in the region for thousands of years, land conquered and land taken from them over and over again. The Palestinians is only a very, very recent identity (in history timeline).

Religion – Judaism predates Islam by at least 2000 years.

The big noises certain (small) groups are making are therefore based on their own political agendas, using race and religion to inflame the situation.

What does MOE mean by “balanced”? Just present the FACTs in chronological order and then have a discussion based on those facts.

BTW who is in charge of MOE now? Oh, Chan Sia Suay. And his 2IC is M.Osman. No wonder can cock-up dishing out a teaching material.

Another PR disaster by our million$ idiots, which could had been mitigated with the proper approach. Instead, it seems like a typical top-down approach, the usual “We know best, You just follow”. However the points raised by the parents are also very vague on details and interpretations – who is to say their interpretations are the “correct” ones for their children? If parents can dutifully guide their children, then how come we still see radicalized young people ever now and then? A suggested approach would be: 1) assemble a knowledge group – parents, teachers, scholars, religious leaders, international historians, etc.… Read more »

The government is in a dilemma. It cannot tell the truth why it doesn’t want any citizens posting on social media on the Hamas Israel war because of the fear of sensitivities not just in Singapore but more so our surrounding neighbours. No prize for guessing who our neighbours support. All these fear leads to self censorship in Singapore’s “father knows best” approach to everything. Your children at home have all grown up. Methods you use on children works when they are children. But they have grown up.