Safe spaces for IHL students to have contentious conversations

Published Date: 10 May 2021 09:00 PM

News Parliamentary Replies

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament

Dr Shahira Abdullah, Nominated Member of Parliament

Question

To ask the Minister for Education whether there are currently safe spaces for youths of institutes of higher learning to engage and have difficult or contentious conversations in a well-guided and supported manner without fear of peer or public 'cancellation'.

Response

1.As part of their educational mission, the Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) are committed to helping students develop critical thinking skills and to provide a safe and conducive environment for rational discourse and learning.

2.The IHLs’ Codes of Conduct for staff and students emphasise the importance of civil, respectful and balanced discourse where differing opinions can be voiced and discussed objectively. Against this backdrop, students learn to engage respectfully and constructively with diverse perspectives, including those related to contentious issues.

3.The IHLs are very clear that they need to provide a safe environment for students to express their views, and engage in robust and rigorous debate, without fear of being “cancelled”. While the views on specific issues may differ, the discourse must always be carried out in a civil and respectful manner, so as to ensure a positive learning environment.

4. At the national level, our youth also have opportunities to discuss and engage with diverse perspectives, including with other youth, industry experts, and policy makers from various agencies. Such platforms include the regular Youth Conversations and Youth Action challenge, organised by the National Youth Council. We continue to provide safe avenues for our youth to voice their opinions, and to engage with each other respectfully.

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