Poly students need lessons on current affairs

It is timely to emphasise the importance of citizenry and critical thinking in our upper secondary school students ("Revised social studies syllabus tackles hot-button issues"; Wednesday).

In fact, we should go further and impart such competency in polytechnic students, too.

In Singapore, a large number of students continue post-secondary education at junior colleges and Integrated Programme schools.

Given that most of them take General Paper (GP) classes, these students are made aware of both local and international issues that affect Singapore and the world.

They also engage in critical analysis and open discussions.

Unfortunately, GP is not offered at polytechnics. For those who lack confidence in their English language abilities, the prospect of failing GP has been a reason for opting for the polytechnic path.

Regrettably for this group, one avenue for sharpening their thinking faculties during their formative years has been closed.

Some will still be able to broaden and sharpen their world view by reading up on the news and associated literature. But I suspect they will be in the minority.

I propose that the polytechnics, in collaboration with the Education Ministry and other authorities, design a non-examinable curriculum focusing on both local and global affairs.

The sessions can come in the form of talks or seminars by both Singaporean experts and invited foreign speakers. Students will have to clock a minimum number of hours attending such sessions.

With a wide range of topics and sessions on offer, such a scheme could be relished by students rather than be seen as a chore.

Tay Kian Tiong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 08, 2016, with the headline 'Poly students need lessons on current affairs'. Print Edition | Subscribe