Social studies textbook: Hawker centers for those of lower status

A Secondary 3 Express/ Normal Academic assessment book has come under fire recently, for its insensitive remarks on the class divide in Singapore.

The book, Complete Guide to O-level Social Studies Vol 1, is marketed as a study guide with ‘comprehensive revision notes’. However, its explanation on social economic status in Singapore was over-simplified and simply untrue.

In the text, the author opines that a person is defined by his/ her social economic status. He then went on the generalize a few traits of those with lower status:

  1. Use singlish or dialects
  2. Play sports such as soccer and basketball at HDB estate
  3. Eat at hawker centers or at home
  4. Youth take on part-time jobs during school holiday

With 85% of Singaporeans living in HDB estates and hawker centers being an integral part of Singaporean culture, many felt that the text offensive, and the author elitist.

Online backlash

Many Singaporean netizens expressed shock and disgust at the author, as well as general discontent at the Ministry of Education‘s (MOE) regulation on study guides.

Assessment book regulation

While the assessment book might be outrageous, fortunately it has not been approved by MOE.

Ministry of Education stated on its website that since 2001, approved commercial learning materials will bear the ministry’s stamp of approval.

The stamp will appear on the front cover or inside the book. Students and parents are advised to look out for the approval stamp when selecting learning materials.

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