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Controversial Social Studies guidebook not on approved textbook list: MOE


SINGAPORE: A Secondary Three Social Studies book that has sparked online controversy for its content is not on the Ministry of Education’s (MOE) approved textbook list, MOE confirmed on Wednesday (Mar 14). 

Pictures of a page from the book with the subheading “Socio-Economic Status (SES)” have gone viral online as netizens criticised the book’s description of people with “lower SES”. 

The guidebook, entitled “Complete Guide to GCE O-Level Social Studies Volume 1” and distributed by MarketAsia Books, defined SES as a factor “that shapes a person’s identity”. 

The book also included a list of personal choices purportedly undertaken by someone with lower SES. The list included “using Singlish or different dialects in daily conversation”, playing “sports like soccer or basketball” at local HDB estates, “eating at hawker centres or at home” and youths who take “on part-time jobs during vacation” to meet “basic family needs”.

Facebook user Ahmad Matin posted a picture of the SES section from the book on Monday (Mar 12), with the caption: “Surprised this is even published. I am appalled!”, and tagged MOE to the post. 

As of Wednesday morning, the post had garnered more than 4,750 shares, 850 interactions and 280 comments.  

In response to the post, MOE commented on Wednesday that the book is “not on the Ministry of Education’s Approved Textbook List”.  

MOE reply controversial guidebook

(Photo: MOE) 

“Commercial learning materials approved by MOE will bear the Ministry’s stamp of approval on their front cover or inside the book,” it added. 

Netizens reacted negatively to the book, with many frustrated by the impact it could have on young readers. 

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