A Secondary 3 Express/ Normal Academic assessment book has rubbed Singaporeans the wrong way after an excerpt suggests that speaking Singlish, eating at hawker centres and playing in HDB estates show one’s low socio-economic status:
The book, Complete Guide to O-Level Social Studies Vol 1 by Rowan Luc, suggests that those who belong to a higher socio-economic status “Use formal English in daily conversation or at home; Play sports or tennis at an exclusive country club; Have regular fine dining at expensive restaurants; (and) Travel overseas for leisure during school holidays”
On the other hand, the book suggests that those who belong to a lower socio-economic status “Use Singlish or different dialects in daily conversation or at home; Play football or basketball in HDB estates; Eat at hawker centres or at home; (and) Work part-time jobs during vacation time to meet family basic needs”
The writer added that understanding differing socio-economic statuses “is important because they help us understand societies better and enable governments to put in place more effective policies in dealing with health care, the rich-poor divide, aging, crime and education.”
He added that one’s socio-economic status determines that person’s choice of language, housing, food and entertainment and can influence the friends that person interacts with.
While the book is meant to supplement official syllabus taught in Singapore schools, it is not approved nor endorsed by the Ministry of Education.
Meanwhile, a netizen’s post showing the questionable excerpt has gone viral with over 4,300 shares, almost 800 reactions and almost 300 comments. Several netizens excoriated the content of the book and shared that they were appalled by the needlessly discriminatory classification: