Best to keep religion out of schools

Religious Knowledge was introduced as a compulsory subject in schools in 1984.

The rationale for doing so - to develop students' character - was good, but the implementation was difficult.

The subject proved divisive because students had to choose only one religion to study, and some parents felt the teachers were not adequately trained, or used the classes to promote their faiths.

There was heightened consciousness of religious differences and a new fervour in the propagation of religious beliefs.

The subject was phased out in 1991 and replaced with civics and moral education.

The Ministry of Education had felt that the imparting of religious values should be the responsibility of parents. It was also deemed inappropriate for schools to offer the subject, as Singapore is a secular state.

Religion is a strong force in society. It has been known to divide people into sects and classes, and provoke hateful comments by those who have prejudices against people of a certain religion.

We should not revive the teaching of religious subjects in schools (Re-introduce religious studies in school, by Ms Clara Chua Sieo Peng; Forum Online, Oct 5).

It is a challenge to manage the delicate balance of a multi-religious Singapore. We should not risk widening divisions and having our students develop a divided mentality from a young age.

Because of the sensitivity of religion, it is best for the Government and schools not to get involved and to stay secular.

Francis Cheng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 09, 2017, with the headline 'Best to keep religion out of schools'. Print Edition | Subscribe