How to engage the young in race and religion dialogues

More in-depth conversations about these topics are being encouraged in schools. Here are some suggested ground rules.

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The announcement by then Minister for Education Ong Ye Kung last month that more in-depth conversations regarding race and religion will be encouraged in schools is welcome. It recognises the growing interest among the young to talk about these sensitive subjects as well as difficult issues that include those of class and gender. This is due to their desire to be socially conscious and socially engaged.

Such interest is also a manifestation of the way the theory of intersectionality is gaining acceptance among the young today. Intersectionality at its core is based on the belief that individuals and groups may be disadvantaged and discriminated against by multiple sources of identities that comprise race, class, gender, sexual orientation, religion and other identity markers. So when one speaks of racial discrimination, an intersectional perspective helps one understand that the experience of, say, a female from a minority ethnic community who is also disabled, is different from that of a man from the same community who does not have physical disability.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 08, 2020, with the headline How to engage the young in race and religion dialogues. Subscribe