MOE reviews syllabus to instil values, sense of identity from a young age

Education Minister Ong Ye Kung said the ministry wants children to develop a sense of their identity and values from a young age.
Education Minister Ong Ye Kung said the ministry wants children to develop a sense of their identity and values from a young age.PHOTO: SINGAPORE INSTITUTE OF DIRECTORS

The Ministry of Education (MOE) is reviewing its Character and Citizenship Education syllabus to put greater emphasis on moral education at the lower primary level.

Announcing the review at the annual National Kindness Awards 2019, Education Minister Ong Ye Kung said the ministry wants children to develop a sense of identity and values from a young age.

"These values will, in turn, guide the relationships they have with their families, peers, teachers, and the community that they live in," he said. "With solid grounding, they will be more ready to make life choices, such as their educational pathways, careers, the kind of person they want to be, and things they wish to achieve in life."

The curriculum is based on core values like respect, responsibility, resilience, integrity, care and harmony, which Mr Ong said are the foundation of a kind society.

The present syllabus was implemented in 2014 under then Education Minister Heng Swee Keat.

Mr Ong added that educators expend much effort to continuously improve and refine the curriculum and make it more engaging, relatable and effective.

But values are often "caught and not taught", Mr Ong said, adding that family members, especially parents, have a big role to play in imparting the right values to children.

About 1,800 students were recognised for kindness initiatives at the awards ceremony yesterday, hosted by the Singapore Kindness Movement in Downtown East.

The initiatives included kindness campaigns organised by students in their schools, donation drives for the needy, and creative projects such as videos, storybooks and poetry produced by the students.

 
 

The kindness movement's general secretary William Wan said a review of the syllabus was necessary periodically to ensure it is relevant and effective.

Dr Wan, who was on the original curriculum development committee about 10 years ago, said he would like to see greater focus on the practical application of the values taught, with students empowered "to express the values they have learnt".

Recognising kind deeds, as the National Kindness Awards does, is a good start, but students need to have opportunities to make them part of their everyday lives, he added.

Xishan Primary School teacher Yvonne Lin, 28, who teaches Character and Citizenship Education, said she teaches her pupils to be considerate towards others in their community, including their peers, family members and neighbours.

Global issues are also increasingly important as children get more interested in world events from a young age, she added.

While such issues are part of the current syllabus, Ms Lin said they could be enhanced further.

As an example, she said pupils can be guided to discuss issues on climate change and to think of what they can do to reduce pollution.

"Even at primary school level, there are things children can do to care for the environment."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 09, 2019, with the headline 'MOE reviews syllabus to instil values, sense of identity from a young age'. Print Edition | Subscribe