Mr Gerald Giam Yean Song asked the Minister for Education to what extent are teachers engaging students to discuss with them, in age-appropriate ways, the positions Singapore has taken on complex foreign policy and security issues like the Russia-Ukraine conflict, Singapore’s relations with the US and China and hostile information campaigns targeted at Singapore’s population.
Mr Chan Chun Sing: In schools, issues relating to international relations and geopolitics are discussed in subjects like History, Social Studies, General Paper and Character and Citizenship Education (CCE). At the Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs), students also take modules and courses that help them make sense of key issues affecting Singapore and the world.
In the classroom, teachers use real-world case studies, including recent incidents, to help students understand complex issues concerning security and international relations, and Singapore’s role and perspectives on these issues. For example, in secondary and pre-university History, students examine how countries’ relations with each other evolve over time and the role of regional and international organisations like ASEAN and the UN in dealing with conflicts and promoting cooperation. In Secondary Social Studies, students learn about transnational terrorism, cyber security challenges and Singapore’s responses to these challenges. In General Paper, teachers engage pre-university students in discussions anchored on current affairs about foreign policy and security issues from different perspectives, while guiding them to understand Singapore’s context and positions.
Through CCE lessons and talks by invited speakers, secondary and pre-university students learn about Singapore’s strengths and vulnerabilities as a small country and the key principles of Singapore’s foreign policy that keep our nation safe. The commemoration of International Friendship Day and Total Defence Day is another avenue. This year, these sessions will offer insights on the ongoing situation in Ukraine and the importance of a rules-based international order, and discuss how Singapore upholds our national sovereignty through diplomacy and strong military defence.
To facilitate such discussions in age-appropriate ways, teachers receive specialised training, including workshops and talks by subject matter experts such as diplomats, academics, and policy makers.
The IHLs similarly engage students on contemporary global issues. The LifeSkills curricula in the IHLs emphasise the importance of critical thinking, global perspectives, and responsibility to the community, nation and the world. Through relevant LifeSkills modules, IHL students engage with educators and peers on current affairs, such as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and distil insights for Singapore’s context. Beyond this, they have access to external resources that provide insight on Singapore’s place in the world.
Given the proliferation of information, schools and IHLs also equip students with information and media literacy skills. Through the curriculum, students are taught to critically evaluate different sources of information, distinguishing fact from opinion, applying logic and verifying the authority of sources. This is part of a wider education efforts to guard against the dangers of fake news and develop in our students the ability to discern misinformation campaigns.
Ministry of Education
4 April 2022