Social Studies in Secondary school looks set for a change from this year (2016).
According to the Education Ministry, the upper secondary social studies syllabus and examination format will place greater emphasis on promoting active citizenship and critical thinking.
Students are encouraged to “develop responses to societal issues rather than just learning about them,” said an MOE spokesperson.
New topical issues in the syllabus include whether there should be a poverty line and the Nimby (Not In My Backyard) syndrome.
The revised syllabus also looks at “new diversities” such as people of different nationalities and socio-economic statuses – instead of focusing on racial and religious diversity.
Here are 5 issues and events that should be considered for future revisions:
1. SMRT Bus Drivers Strike
Why should students learn about this? Had the Chinese national drivers under SMRT been unionised, the union could have stepped in earlier to mitigate and resolve the workplace issues before it escalated into the labour action which caused a travel disruption.
Learning outcome: Perhaps it could be time for students to learn about the labour movement in Singapore and how it helps to pursue better welfare and working conditions for workers. Singapore’s model of Tripartism should also teach them to appreciate the unique relations which employers, unions and the Government share as well.
2. Passing of Founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew
The Singapore spirit that rose during the period of mourning was something not seen before in Singapore. Singaporeans from all walks of life converged upon the Padang, queuing for hours to pay their last respect to the Late Mr Lee. But what was more impressive was that Singaporeans huddled together to grieve – in solidarity.
Learning outcome: This event could be something that students can learn and identify with something that binds us as Singaporeans.
Often students do not learn or have an inkling of what the CPF until the time they enter the workforce.
Learning outcome: Learning about the system will help Singaporeans to plan ahead for their future early. It should also help them appreciate the money that their parents can tap on to fund their own tertiary studies.
4. Skills and Higher Education
With more and more emphasis on skills over qualifications, social studies could explore how there is a need for relevant skills in the ever-changing labour market.
Learning outcome: Teaching about the need for skills over qualifications will provide students with a proper mindset of equipping themselves with relevant skills instead of chasing paper qualifications without relevant skills. SkillsFuture can also be introduced into the syllabus to highlight how the government is supporting Singaporean workers to constantly upgrade. This drives home the idea of constant upgrading of skills to improve their own lives.
5. Religious Tolerance
The world around is constantly under the threat of terrorism and extremism. Perhaps one way to inculcate religious tolerance and harmony is to study the Maintenance of Religious Harmony Act so that students begin to appreciate the religious harmony at a young age.
Learning outcome: Singapore’s religious diversity can be better appreciated, and a common national identity forged.