The school as battleground

In yesterday’s Straits Times article, MOE tightens vetting on sexuality programme, the article concludes with a cautionary note by Dr. Ng,

‘What we must avoid is different groups with competing ideologies using our schools and young as proxy arenas to push their own set of beliefs.

‘We must not go down the way, as has happened in the US, where schools become the proxy battleground for the Christian right and gay interest groups to settle arguments.’

I was quite keen to know what happened in the US, and this website provides the most comprehensive list of incidents of schools being involved as a ‘proxy battleground’.

The incidents include parents suing schools after a pro-homosexual play was shown, homosexual clubs forming in schools with “outreach” programmes and promotion of homosexual literature, student publications writing features on growing up gay.

I think we have little to fear at this point of time. Our schools are nowhere near reaching that level of ‘proxy battleground’.

A large number of conflicts listed in the website emerge between ‘homosexual clubs’ and ‘Christian clubs’. The clubs and societies in our Singapore schools are clearly interest groups with agendas aligned to the school’s mission and vision. The setting up of religious groups or groups with a particular social/political agenda in our schools is still largely frowned upon. The closest to that would be environmental-conservation clubs and Council, which is pretty much a vehicle for the school to promote its own mission and vision.

Our schools in Singapore are still largely protected and impervious to the influence of social and political forces. A friend pointed out to me an article on how teachers in certain schools were also told not to go to the AWARE EGM. We are overly keen on protecting our schools as politically and socially neutral grounds, so that they become largely detached from the reality of the society around us. It just brings home the fact that progress in the field of education really goes beyond the content you deliver and the programs you implement, but really lies in the education system itself. And clearly, our system is not ready, or willing, to take risks in the arena of political and social involvement.