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Redditors urge MOE for balanced, bias-free teaching on Gaza conflict in CCE lesson

Reddit users discuss Singapore’s CCE lesson on Israeli-Palestinian conflict, questioning biases and advocating for balanced education in the Ministry of Education’s curriculum approach.



SINGAPORE: Netizens are calling for the Ministry of Education (MOE) to adopt a balanced, comprehensive, and objective approach to teaching the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the Character and Citizenship Education (CCE) program.

They emphasize the need for inclusivity, avoidance of bias, and a broader context to foster understanding among students.

Parents demand bias rectification, MOE responds

On 23 February, concerned parents called upon the Singapore Ministry of Education (MOE) to rectify perceived biases in the teaching of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a component of the CCE program initiated in February this year.

An open letter posted on the ‘Suara Melayu Singapura’ Facebook group expresses parents’ deep concerns about how these issues are portrayed and taught in primary and secondary schools.

Lesson slides by MOE summarise key events in the Israel-Palestine conflict since 1948 and provide an overview of Hamas, emphasizing its refusal to recognize Israel’s right to exist.

However, the slides notably omit references to Israel’s lack of recognition of a Palestinian state and recent accusations against Israel for alleged acts of genocide against Palestinians.

Shortly following these concerns, the MOE clarified its position and teaching methodology, underlining the commitment of educators to deliver balanced lessons devoid of personal viewpoints or favouritism towards any involved party.

MOE defends its approach to teaching the conflict, highlighting the importance of empathy and critical thinking in lessons.

In a Sunday (25 February) media interview, Education Minister Chan Chun Sing said the CCE lessons on the conflict are specifically designed to prompt students to reflect on how to uphold cohesion and harmony in a multiracial society.

He clarified that the class is not intended to function as a history lesson nor to assign blame to any party involved.

He emphasized that MOE aims to cultivate a culture where students learn to respond responsibly.

This involves understanding their own emotions, contemplating how to preserve cohesion and harmony, and verifying information sources before responsibly sharing them.

However, it is noteworthy that his media response did not specifically address parents’ concerns about the alleged suppression of alternative viewpoints on the Gaza conflict.

Redditors’ varied perspectives on MOE’s statement and CCE lesson

After the MOE’s statement, Redditors engaged in discussions on the Reddit platform concerning the criticisms levelled at MOE and their perspectives on parents’ reactions to the conflict as taught in the CCE lesson.

The responses presented a diverse range of opinions.

One Redditor queried, “Is it challenging to avoid personal bias as an educator?”

This inquiry stemmed from a post mentioning that students were tasked with exploring ways to demonstrate care and concern for both Gaza and Israel.

This approach elicited dissatisfaction from a student who questioned why such sentiments should extend to Israel.

The individual added, “In the past, social studies did not prompt us to pick sides in conflicts such as Sri Lanka or Northern Ireland. Why the difference now?”

Another Redditor contended that parents are also influencing their children’s perspectives, suggesting they may inadvertently be instilling similar biases in their children.

The person is emphasizing that the parents are angry at MOE for the CCE lesson when the parents are also doing the same thing to their children.

A separate Redditor questioned the necessity of including the conflict in textbooks, advocating for neutrality by stating, “We have nothing to do with the conflict.”

Concerns over the historical context in the lesson

A Redditor observed that discussions often centre on isolated incidents like the “7 October incident,” neglecting the extensive 75-year history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

This sentiment resonates with parents critiquing the MOE’s CCE lessons, arguing that the curriculum’s focus on events from 7 October fails to encompass the broader context of the conflict spanning several decades.

One Redditor provided an opinion on the MOE’s CCE slides, suggesting that while they highlighted key events, they may not fully represent the plight of Palestinians.

However, they acknowledged the challenge of simplifying complex issues for young students and stressed the importance of teachers’ objectivity to avoid bias.

In its response, the MOE emphasized the curriculum’s aim to nurture empathy among younger students and promote critical assessment of information sources among older students.

Mixed views on CCE slide’s neutrality

Meanwhile, in another forum posted on 24 February, Redditors shared their thoughts specifically on the CCE slides, debating their neutrality.

Responses varied, with some considering the slides relatively neutral but highlighting concerns about potential biases due to the omission of historical context.

The question posed was, “Do you think these slides are biased against one side or neutral?”

One response deemed the slides relatively neutral but highlighted the potential impact of teachers’ delivery on how the conflict is perceived.

Another response also viewed the slides as neutral.

However, the individual noted potential biases due to the omission of the conflict’s seven-decade history, including Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land and Palestine’s attacks on Israel with support from Arab nations.

The person remarked that the slides likely aimed to provide a summary rather than a comprehensive history, suggesting that a full explanation might warrant a separate history topic syllabus.

They further discussed the challenge of including numerous incidents while maintaining neutrality, advocating for the inclusion of uncomfortable facts and atrocities committed by both sides for a balanced perspective.

One Redditor noted the context of Singapore’s awareness of Palestinian suffering, suggesting the slides were suitable.

Another Redditor summarized the complaints, stating that people felt the slides were not neutral because they didn’t align with their views.

Although most comments indicated neutrality, a dissenting Redditor felt the omission of the conflict’s death toll made the presentation one-sided.

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Selected content to achieve a desired outcome. CCS should step down. He is no educator.

They and their actors and actresses playing in school. Yet cannot have a balance view nor advocate for the right things to do. And you think they will come up with any balance views?!? They only know how to sweep under the carpets.

I do not represent any of them nor want to be entities for these ppl who cannot own up to what they do.

Mr Chan Chun Sing, We are all educated societies with integrity and feelings for humanity. The truth narratives of Israel and Hamas conflicts must be told to the our children if you want to inform them of the current affairs. Not telling our children bits and pieces of the truth of the Israel and Hamas conflicts. Very sorry, you are not qualify to be in our education system. You are a no brainer. EXCUSE my language. Regards, Very disappointed parent.

How can they ever have a balance view if they cannot right their wrongs and need to trap ppl to their bidding. How on earth do they have the moral authority to teach others when they are not setting an example. They do not have and the whole administration should step down!!!