Social studies guidebook with misleading stereotypes removed from Popular bookstore

The guidebook, Complete Guide to GCE O-Level Social Studies Volume 1 by Rowan Luc, has been criticised for a contentious presentation of socio-economic classes in Singapore.
The guidebook, Complete Guide to GCE O-Level Social Studies Volume 1 by Rowan Luc, has been criticised for a contentious presentation of socio-economic classes in Singapore.PHOTO: FACEBOOK/AHMAD MATIN

SINGAPORE - The social studies guidebook that has sparked online controversy has been removed from its stores, Popular bookstore confirmed.

The guidebook, Complete Guide to GCE O-Level Social Studies Volume 1 by Rowan Luc, has been criticised for a contentious presentation of socio-economic classes in Singapore.

One generalisation the author made that came under heavy scrutiny suggested that Singaporeans of a lower socio-economic status would use "Singlish or different dialects", while those of a higher status would use "formal English".

Pictures of the book were uploaded by Mr Ahmad Matin, 38, who works in finance. His original post on the guidebook, which he found at Popular bookstore,has garnered more than 6,500 shares since Monday (March 12).

Popular's only comment was that the book has been removed from its stores. The Straits Times visited one of its stores, and saw that the Complete Guide to GCE O-Level History was the only book by the same author available on the shelves.

The controversial section of the guidebook sought to illustrate the concept of diversity in Singapore, which is discussed in chapters four to seven of the Ministry of Education's new social studies textbook for upper secondary students, which has been in use since 2017.

In the textbook, socio-economic status is raised as a component of a person'sidentity, alongside race and ethnicity, nationality and religion. Socio-economic status is divided into three levels: high, medium and low.

 

The textbook says: "In Singapore, an individual or household's income level is used as the indicator for socio-economic status.

"The socio-economic status of an individual may shape one's life experience as it affects the choice of housing, food, entertainment and activities. This in turn can influence the circle of friends that one interacts with.

"For example, activities such as polo and golf, fine dining and travelling to distant destinations for vacations are usually activities carried out by people with higher socio-economic status. Activities such as swimming, soccer and basketball are enjoyed by individuals across all socio-economic groups as street soccer and basketball courts are easily accessible to the public."

Both the author and publisher of the book could not be contacted for comment.