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RDU calls for reevaluation of MOE’s CCE curriculum on Gaza conflict

Red Dot United criticizes Ministry of Education’s Gaza conflict Character and Citizenship Education lesson, citing potential bias and lack of depth. Calls for an opt-out option and a more inclusive, expert-informed curriculum development process.



Illustration of a lesson of primary school students (Photo: Clementi Primary School)

by Red Dot United

We refer to Education Minister Chan Chun Sing’s response to his Ministry’s Character and Citizenship Education (CCE) lessons on the ongoing Israel-Gaza war. His response was well-meaning, and we appreciate Ministry of Education’s (MOE) attempt at providing students with a well-rounded education that fosters empathy, critical thinking, and respectful dialogue.

The Minister’s assurance that MOE will regularly revise the curriculum materials in response to ongoing developments is a welcomed gesture. We believe that this willingness to adapt to changing circumstances underscores the Ministry’s commitment to be responsive to societal needs, especially since there are significant developments in the war which may challenge previously taught perspectives.

This is important because there is a perception among some students and parents that the CCE curriculum materials or the way the topic is presented could reflect a particular political bias which does not adequately address the complexity and depth of the war. We understand that the ongoing war is a deep and multifaceted issue and that there may be limited time for the teachers to discuss all aspects effectively and comprehensively within the constraints of one lesson.

There are, however, consequences in choosing to discuss such an emotionally charged topic, particularly on younger students who may not have the maturity to process the information appropriately. There are also concerns about teacher preparedness, if they are trained to facilitate discussions on such complex and potentially contentious topics, particularly if they themselves have strong personal opinions or lack sufficient background knowledge on the subject.

Considering the fact that the CCE curriculum, which is constantly evolving, may not adequately represent diverse perspectives and voices, especially those from marginalised or minority communities, Red Dot United (RDU) proposes an opt-out option for contentious and/or sensitive topics as an immediate measure, and a review of the CCE curriculum development model as a longer-term solution. An immediate opt-out option for primary school students for contentious and/or sensitive topics will give parents the right to opt their children out of lessons on sensitive topics if they feel it goes against their personal convictions or if they prefer to address such topics within the family environment.

However, in the long-term interest of our national psyche and sense of national togetherness – which we believe is the key purpose of CCE – the opt-out option can risk doing more harm than good. It encourages those who are most at risk of being misunderstood and misrepresented to withdraw from engaging with their peers and community and foster understanding. It also leaves those who remain with an impoverished understanding of the issue, which can only exacerbate discrimination.

To that end, RDU believes that the long-term solution must be a revision of the way CCE curriculum is developed. We appreciate that MOE would have received inputs from different parties to help build the lesson on the war in Gaza. However, it is also clear to us that this consultation lacked input from key stakeholders – those who are most affected by the issue in question, and those with the necessary subject expertise to inform all possible angles of the issue.

RDU proposes that future CCE curriculum relating to potentially sensitive and complex issues begin with inclusivity as a first priority. Students should be encouraged to openly express their knowledge, anxieties, and beliefs about the issue, including any biases they might have. This gives context to the diversity of views and prioritises understanding and mutual empathy.

Students should also not be expected to work on this alone, or debate just for the sake of debating. MOE must also seek advice and help from academic experts to cover the broad knowledge base found in such multifaceted and deep issues. Historians, geographers, political analysts, religion scholars, religious leaders of all faiths involved, cultural analysts – all these, and more, can help lend important perspectives to an issue. Working together with schoolteachers and students, their contribution will help bring necessary perspective, depth of knowledge and empathy to a conflicted issue.

RDU believes that we must not allow distant global events to undermine our efforts in nation-building and that we must preserve social cohesion at home. But, given that the spaces to discuss nuanced, sensitive topics like politics and religion are small in Singapore, and shrinking further lately, even adults may find it difficult to have a civil conversation about a difficult topic. How much more students?

This is why we must make a very careful but conscious effort to expand such spaces, in a gradual and calibrated manner by considering diverse perspectives, so that more people will have a better understanding of important, but very personal subjects like race, language, religion, and politics, so as to engage in rational conversations among ourselves to strengthen our social fabric.

This was first published on RDU’s website

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Sorry you wont get my vote, not even pappies. Perhaps giving my vote to PSP or PV !! tsk tsk tsk

RDU , dont you have muc more important things to do? like solving bread and butter issues?

Don’t waste time on topics like LGBT , etc etc. To me its not important. My opinion.

What do you think? tsk tsk tsk