Top Stories


    Oct 09, 2014

    Hwa Chong alumni: Scrap workshop

    FORMER students of Hwa Chong Institution (HCI) started a petition yesterday, calling for the school to suspend a workshop offered by Focus On The Family Singapore.

    This move comes after HCI student Agatha Tan, 17, said in an open letter to her principal, Hon Chiew Weng, that the workshop was "sexist" and promoted gender stereotypes.

    Agatha's letter, which she made public on her Facebook page, has been shared more than 2,000 times since she put it up on Tuesday morning.

    Irene Oh, 31, one of the organisers of the petition, told The Straits Times that she felt "indignant that students with different opinions are silenced by adults".

    "Alumni who are adults themselves need to call this out as unacceptable," said Ms Oh, a software engineer who graduated from Hwa Chong Junior College - HCI's predecessor - in 2001.

    She and a few former Hwa Chong students penned an online letter on Google Docs, addressed to all HCI teachers and Dr Hon, calling for the school to immediately suspend the workshop by vendor Focus On The Family Singapore.

    The letter had collected 306 signatures as of 9pm yesterday. It was put up online at about 1.30am yesterday.

    The vendor, a pro-family Christian charity, has been approved by the Education Ministry to run workshops on sexuality and relationship education in schools. But Agatha, who attended its workshop in school on Friday, said the programme perpetuated gender stereotypes.

    Referring to a booklet that students received from the vendor, Agatha said it portrayed girls as "emotional", "want security" and want to "look attractive", while boys "need respect" and "don't want a girlfriend that questions their opinions and argues with their decisions all the time".

    Focus On The Family Singapore defended its programme, saying it was "not a sexuality education programme".

    "It is designed to be a relationship programme 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," said its head of corporate communications, Vicky Ho.

    An HCI spokesman said the programme aimed to educate students "on healthy relationships".