Ministry of Education raps Mothership for 'fake news' on official's comments

Local website Mothership was criticised by the Ministry of Education for wrongly attributing comments to an MOE official. (Photo: Screen shot from Mothership website)

*UPDATED at 3.35PM on 30 August 2017 to include additional information that EducationHQ has removed the article from its website, citing the Singapore Ministry of Education’s refutation of the quotes attributed by the author to Director-General of Education Wong Siew Hoong, and the lack of evidence to support the author Walter Barbieri.

The Ministry of Education (MOE) has criticised local website Mothership for wrongly attributing comments in an article to one of its education officials, calling it “fake news”.

In the article posted by on Monday (28 August), the website had cited a separate article from EducationHQ, an Australia-based education portal. The article claimed that Director-General of Education (DGE) Wong Siew Hoong said at a National Institute of Education (NIE) conference, “We’re building compliant students just as the jobs that value compliance are beginning to disappear.”

Wong was reported in the Mothership article as also saying, “We’ve been winning the wrong race,” with reference to Singapore topping the global education rankings by PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment).

In response, MOE commented on Mothership’s Facebook page, “We would like to clarify that the Director-General of Education did not make the statements quoted in the article above. This is fake news.

“We are disappointed that your website would circulate such false comments. We would appreciate it if you could remove the article immediately or at least print a correction.”

On Tuesday (29 August), MOE posted online a transcript and video of Wong’s full speech at the NIE conference held on 31 May, as corroboration that Wong did not make the comments.

MOE said the Australian article had initially attributed the comments to Education Minister Ng Chee Meng, then later to the DGE. “Minister Ng was on an overseas work trip and was not at the conference. As for DGE Mr Wong, he did speak at the conference, but did not say what the article had quoted him to have said,” it added.

The ministry said that it had contacted the Australian website and asked that it remove the article. Yahoo News Singapore has also reached out to the website, which has not responded at the time of publication.

Mothership, which has amended the article on its website, said in response to MOE’s comment, “We appreciate you sharing the evidence that the Director-General did not make the statements attributed to him. We have included the correction in the article. We are contacting Australian Teacher Magazine and the author Walter Barbieri to get their clarifications on how they obtained the quotes.”

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