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Of National Education June 19, 2007

Posted by Ned Stark in Uncategorized.
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Recently Stressed Teacher did a post regarding the issue of National Education. From his post, he is of  the opinion that NE in general is a big flop. I concur.

 In 2001, Secondary 3 students were forced to take a compulsory subject named social studies. In fact they still take it today and it appears that little has changed in the textbook.

I believe that it is fine for Singapore history to be taught in schools. In fact it is ridiculous if Singaporens do not know anything about their history. Unfortunately what is happening now is that there are Singaporeans who do not know salient facts regarding the history of Singapore. And current policy is not helping much either.

The present curriculum regarding social studies leave much to be desired. In fact a person who only reads the present text would be forgiven if he goes around with the impression that Mr Lee Kuan Yew singlehandedly “crushed” the Western Educated radicals, the Communists and Marxists and that those who fall under that category are little more than scum to be detained and packed off to Sentosa; that Mr Lee singlehandedly led Singapore to its current state. Rather than give a chance for individuals to reflect on issues regarding citizenship, among other things, people are TOLD WHAT to think.

Even people who stood side by side Mr Lee Kuan Yew are given little mention in the current NE. This is rather disappointing; if they wanted to do something dedicated to PAP the least they could do would be to do it properly. Of course if teachers take it upon themselves to go beyond the limited scope of NE and teach students to think critically then something could be salvaged; however that could cost them their job.

Furthermore, it is inconceivable that the Constitution, which theoretically plays a large part in a country’s society, is rarely, if ever, discussed during NE. System of government too is given short shrift. Therefore what is left of NE is a glorified account of how the ruling party saved Singapore from sinking into the South China Sea and so on. Thus it is unsurprising that when one thinks of NE, the p word “propaganda” is never far behind.

So how to salvage such a situation? Regretably the solution requires there to be a paradigm shift in the way the government does things; namely acknowledgement of those who had contributed to the country albeit under a different banner from the lightning bolt, more tolerance for films which show the story from another point of view (referring to Martyn See’s films, both of which were banned). However it is highly unlikely such a situation will come to pass in the near future, so the rule NE= Propaganda will still remain.

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