Procedures to process feedback from students on racial discrimination

Published Date: 05 July 2021 10:00 PM

News Parliamentary Replies

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament

Ms Raeesah Khan, Sengkang GRC

Question

To ask the Minister for Education (a) what are the procedures that schools and institutes of higher learning adopt to address concerns from students about racial, religious, and gender discrimination arising from individuals such as staff or lecturers, curricula, or policies; (b) what are the principles guiding these procedures; (c) what steps are taken to review, update and improve on these procedures; and (d) what are the obstacles to making the public more aware of the above and how can they be overcome.

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament

Dr Shahira Abdullah, Nominated Member of Parliament

Question

To ask the Minister for Education (a) what avenues are available in educational institutions to ensure that educators with racist views will be flagged up at the earliest possible opportunity; and (b) whether safeguards are available to ensure that persons giving feedback do not fear victimisation or being disadvantaged especially if they choose not to do it anonymously so that they can be informed of the outcome of their feedback.

Response

1. Our schools and Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) are committed to providing a supportive and safe environment for all students and staff, regardless of their race, religion or gender. They provide a common space for students to learn and live out the values of respect and harmony, and build a deeper appreciation of diversity in our society. To maintain this common space, our institutions stand firmly against any form of discrimination. The importance of racial and religious harmony, and respect for others, is also taught through the formal and informal curriculum.

2. Our institutions have clear guidelines against unprofessional and discriminatory conduct. Specifically, respect for others is an integral part of the Codes of Conduct for both students and staff in the IHLs. In particular, we expect all educators to conduct themselves to the highest standards of their professions given their position of influence over students.

3. Students and staff who experience any form of discrimination should not hesitate to bring it up to their institution immediately. Feedback channels and processes for students to do so include approaching senior staff or faculty members in person, via email channels and other formal feedback mechanisms. In schools, students are informed that they can raise any issues to their teachers or any staff member. In IHLs, information on feedback channels are broadcasted on various platforms, including institutions' websites, student handbook and portal. Students are also informed about these feedback channels during enrolment and orientation briefings.

4. While students and staff can choose to remain anonymous when providing feedback or reporting any incident, we generally encourage them to identify themselves and provide their contact details so that a more thorough investigation can be conducted. Students and staff have the assurance that they will be supported and protected, and that their feedback will be handled sensitively and in strict confidence.

5. Where necessary, institutions may decide to implement measures to maintain campus safety and the safety of those involved in the incident. For example, institutions may issue a no-contact order between the complainant and perpetrator or temporarily suspend the perpetrator from campus while investigations are ongoing.

6. Once a case has been lodged, institutions take prompt action to investigate the case and provide counselling support to the affected persons. Individuals involved in the incident will be interviewed and evidence gathered, to ascertain the facts of the case. Those found to have breached the Code of Conduct will be disciplined and counselled accordingly.

7. Institutions will continue to strengthen their feedback processes and encourage students to speak up on any incidents of discrimination. The curricula and policies in MOE schools and IHLs are also regularly reviewed, taking into consideration feedback from educators, students and parents through regular engagement sessions.

8. Beyond efforts in schools and IHLs, parents and community groups also play a crucial role in supporting students to stand up against acts of discrimination and not be afraid to raise any issues to their respective institutions.

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