15 questions about the Focus on the Family relationship programme debacle that badly need answers
The Ministry of Education has announced on Oct. 9, 2014, that the relationship programme by Focus on the Family Singapore — which is getting lambasted online for its antediluvian views on women and gender in general — will “cease its run by end-2014”.
The workshop that allegedly equips students with social and relationship management skills was started in 2009. No reasons were given as to why it will be concluded this year.
An anonymous MOE spokesperson said the workshop on relationships does not fall under the ministry’s sexuality education programme, even though Focus on the Family Singapore is a MOE-approved vendor that runs sexuality education programmes in school.
Focus on the Family, pro-family Christian charity, had been appointed by the Ministry of Social and Family Development, MOE clarified.
In this case, the course was about healthy relationships, not sex education.
This effectively transfers the onus to MSF as it is now their turn to clarify matters.
Some unanswered questions
We are not sex experts like those folks from Focus on the Family and we do not want anybody to get hurt.
But we have several questions to ask, because this incident raises
several plenty of queries for everyone involved.
Questions for Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF)
1. MOE has clarified on MSF’s behalf that the conducting of relationship programmes to junior college students comes under MSF’s purview. Should MSF come out and inform the public about their role? Why didn’t MSF come out to say something about this incident earlier?
2. MOE said MSF appointed Focus on the Family Singapore (FoTF). Why and how was FoTF appointed?
3. How much of taxpayers’ money did FotF get paid to conduct this programme?
Questions for Ministry of Education (MOE)
4. MOE said that the relationship workshop by Focus on the Family Singapore will cease by end-2014. Is MOE hinting that FoTF will not be appointed?
5. Will the direction of sexuality programmes be inconsistent if FoTF continues to be MSF’s vendor but not MOE’s vendor?
6. Is MOE upset that it has to inform the public about MSF’s role?
Questions about whole-of-government coordination
7. Why didn’t MOE and MSF come up with a joint statement on the matter? What happened to whole-of-government communications efforts?
8. How does MSF and MOE maintain the consistency in its sexuality programmes if it is under the purview of two ministries?
9. Although the Municipal Services Office is not involved in such issues, will MSO consider becoming the single point of contact in government for such matters in future?
10. Will the next SG50 meeting be awkward? Education Minister Heng Swee Keat is the Chairman of SG50, while Acting Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing is a member of SG50.
Questions for Focus on the Family Singapore
11. FoTF mentioned that the curriculum is based on well-researched material by various trusted family life and relationship experts. Who are these experts?
12. FoTF said that their workshops have received positive feedback of more than 85% of the students rating it as Very Good/Good. Can they share the contents of their feedback form with the public?
13. FoTF said that the programme is not a sexuality education program. What is the difference between a sexuality education programme and a relationship program?
Questions for Hwa Chong Institution alumni
14. Former students of Hwa Chong Institution have started a petition calling for the school to suspend a sexuality education workshop offered by Focus On The Family Singapore. Did Hwa Chong alumni Minister Grace Fu, MPs Baey Yam Keng and Tin Pei Ling sign the petition?
15. Does MOE Minister of State and Hwa Chong alumnus Sim Ann feel conflicted about this issue?