Study guide contains misleading stereotypes

I was looking at textbooks at Popular bookstore this week when I came across an O-level social studies study guide, Complete Guide To GCE O-Level Social Studies Volume 1. It had a section illustrating the lifestyles of Singaporeans who supposedly belong to the lower socio-economic stratum.

Some characteristics include "speaking in Singlish and dialects", "eating at hawker centres or at home", "playing sports at HDB estates" and "youths taking up part-time jobs".

I am unsure if this has been approved by the Ministry of Education but it is disturbing to see such content in a study guide widely available in bookstores.

It is preposterous that while the Government is taking steps to curb the increasing problem of class inequality, books like this exist to exacerbate the inequality by emphasising misleading stereotypes of those on each side of the socio-economic divide (Class, racial and religious, and local-foreigner divides are all threats to cohesion: Grace Fu; ST Online, March 9).

As a true-blue Singaporean, I embrace speaking in Singlish with my peers because of my pride in our culture and converse in dialects with my grandparents to reduce the generational gap.

I have my meals at hawker centres because the food is scrumptious and at home as well, because I am fortunate enough to have a mother who cooks.

As an undergraduate, I do part-time gigs not because I am poor, but because I am responsible and keen to contribute to the family income.

I exhibit these "signs" of someone who supposedly belongs to the lower socio-economic stratum, but I do not belong to that category.

Hence, assuming one's socio-economic status based on lifestyle choices is a gross misrepresentation.

To make things worse, this is found in a study guide for upper secondary students.

I shudder to think of the consequences on our social fabric should they grow up ingrained with such a warped mindset.

Young minds are easily influenced by misconceptions like these, and it is irresponsible of the author to produce such material for students. I urge the authorities to investigate this before it escalates further.

Sean Lim Wei Xin

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 15, 2018, with the headline 'Study guide contains misleading stereotypes'. Print Edition | Subscribe