Forum: Character and citizenship education often neglected in schools

Education Minister Ong Ye Kung said his ministry is encouraging principals to hold more in-depth conversations in school, including during character and citizenship education (CCE) classes (In-depth conversations on religion, race crucial in schools: Ong Ye Kung, July 17).

Based on the experiences of my two children, primary and secondary schools are not holding the timetabled CCE classes regularly.

Teachers like to use these classes to catch up on subjects that are behind schedule.

They tend to find CCE the easiest subject to forgo due to its non-examinable nature. By doing so, the message being sent to our young is that good values and character are not as important.

One of my children has observed that the situation in junior college is no better.

The form teacher is assigned to conduct CCE, but she leaves it to the students to read on their own. As Mr Ong rightly puts it, just sending them reading material is not going to help, "you need that engagement".

Thus, it is encouraging to read that the Ministry of Education (MOE) is training more teachers to specialise in this area, who can then facilitate such discussions.

I feel that school leadership, starting with the principal, has to walk the talk and hold conversations about delicate matters such as race and religion. For instance, my child's junior college gave little regard to last week's Racial Harmony Day.

I hope MOE will take the lead and ensure all schools build a consistent CCE focus and experience for everyone from primary school to junior college.

Kevin Chua Hock Meng

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