Hwa Chong Institution (HCJC) principal Dr Hon Chiew Weng has said that the facilitator of the “relationship” programme, made public by one of his students Ms Agatha Tan for its overtly sexist slant, was “ineffective”.
Dr Hon did not indicate if this ineffectiveness was the cause of the Ministry of Education announcing that the programme will be terminated by December this year.
He was reported by media as saying that many of his students found the programme useful. However, his school that the facilitators – “especially the male facilitator” – of the workshop that Ms Tan had attended were “ineffective”, as he “was not able to address (the students’) concerns satisfactorily”.
Dr Hon was not reported to have addressed the issue brought up by Ms Tan, which was the discriminatory nature of the material and how it encourages gender stereotypes. He also did not address the petition from his school’s alumni that is currently circulating online expressing shock at the content.
“From merely glancing through this booklet,” she said, referring to the handout at the workshop, “I learned a simple yet important lesson: that bigotry is very much alive and it was naïve of me to think I could be safe from it even in school.”
Ms Tan also charged that “the workshop and booklet actively serve to promote rape culture in school.”
Focus on the Family, a Christian-based group that was responsible for designing the material, said that it is “designed to be a relationship program to help young people unravel the world of the opposite sex, uncover the truths of love and dating, and reveal what it takes to have healthy and meaningful relationships.”
Both MOE and Focus on the Family are reported to be looking into the booklet Ms Tan was referring to.
“One lesson we can learn from this episode is that even if a programme is approved by both MSF and MOE, things can go wrong,” said Dr Hon. He said that the school will design their own workshops in future, and said that it will provide feedback to Focus on the Family.