Ensure adequate dose of social science in our education

I agree with Mr Ng Kok Keong that we need to boost our social science research ("Build up foundation in social science research"; last Friday).

For many years, the Ministry of Education has been making our education more holistic by providing a more rounded and extensive curriculum, emphasising more on character development, teaching students lifelong learning skills, and cultivating good values in them.

Yet, our education seems to be slanted towards the teaching of science and mathematics in primary and secondary schools, at the expense of history, geography, literature, music, the arts, and social science.

With so much emphasis being given to science and mathematics in the Primary School Leaving Examination, for example, we may unintentionally restrict pupils' opportunities in learning and acquiring an interest in the arts, music and general reading.

Once they attain a certain age, it is more difficult for them to cultivate these predilections.

This could be the reason why they hardly read newspapers nowadays.

Many of our students are lacking in general knowledge about daily life and the world outside, compared with their problem-solving skills in science and mathematics.

An adequate dose of history, geography and social science is a necessity for our young, especially in an environment that is becoming more complex.

We must equip them with the basic knowledge and perspectives required for analysing political, economic and social developments here and abroad.

A high level of general knowledge about Singapore and the world will also elevate their confidence and conviction, which are needed to set aspirations and visions for their life and for the nation.

We need to push for more research in social science.

The Government, universities, libraries, business organisations and research institutes should be more "research friendly", by making more information and statistics available to our students, researchers and the public.

The media can also allocate more space and airtime for social science findings, not just from renowned researchers, but also from students and ordinary citizens who have valid points to present.

In short, we need to develop a culture and an ecosystem favourable for the learning and research of social science.

Albert Ng Ya Ken

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 28, 2016, with the headline 'Ensure adequate dose of social science in our education'. Print Edition | Subscribe