7 May 2009
GP teachers did not push alternative lifestyles
By Amelia Tan
IN ITS letter to The Straits Times yesterday, the Ministry of Education (MOE) revealed that it had received ‘feedback’ about materials on alternative lifestyles used in junior college General Paper lessons.
Among the issues raised was one contained in an e-mail which has made the rounds recently.
It said that during a discussion of same-sex marriages, students at a junior college were given a worksheet with questions asking for their views of a nuclear family unit. They were also asked to discuss topics such as the legalisation of gay marriage and parents of the same sex forming families through adoption.
A documentary on the lifestyles of such families was also shown in class, the e-mail said. It questioned if it was appropriate to discuss such topics, and charged that this promoted homosexuality. It is not known who wrote the e-mail.
In its response yesterday, MOE said: ‘GP lessons are meant to promote critical thinking and discussion on contemporary issues.
‘These materials and lessons did not involve Aware…MOE investigations showed that the teachers had used these materials to initiate discussion on family structures, and not to promote alternative lifestyles.
‘Nevertheless, MOE will remind school leaders and teachers to exercise greater professional discretion in guiding their students when such topics are discussed. They should also adhere to social norms and values of our mainstream society.’
Junior colleges have to adhere to broad guidelines set by the ministry for GP lessons, including on the topics covered. However, teachers are free to choose the type of content they want to introduce and to decide how they teach the lessons.