Controversial Social Studies guidebook not in MOE’s approved textbook list

Screen shot of the controversial Social Studies guidebook: Ahmad Matin/Facebook

A controversial Social Studies guidebook that has drawn criticism for its examples of people of “lower socio-economic status (SES)” is not approved by the Ministry of Education (MOE).

The guidebook was flagged in a post by Facebook user Ahmad Matin on Monday (12 March). In a reply to his post on Wednesday, MOE said that the book – Complete Guide to GCE-O Level Social Studies Vol. 1 by Rowan Luc – is not in its approved textbook list. Commercial learning materials approved by MOE will bear its stamp of approval on the front cover or inside the books, it added.

According to the guidebook, “SES can determine a person’s choice of language, housing, food, entertainment and activities”. People who are of lower SES make “choices” including speaking in Singlish or dialects daily, playing sports like football or basketball in an HDB estate, eating in hawker centres or at home, and working part-time during school vacation time to support the family, said the guidebook.

Facebook user Kevin Ng commented in the post, “Examples given are irrelevant and stereotyping. Maybe the intent was deliberate to better illustrate the point but somehow it is out of context and very insensitive as well.”

In contrast, people of higher SES tend to use formal English in daily conversation at home, play sports like golf or tennis at an exclusive country club, eat at expensive restaurants regularly and travel overseas annually during school holidays, according to the guidebook.