by Thio Sin Loo (ST Forum, 01 Oct 2005)

I am writing this letter because of some questions posed to me by a friend’s daughter, a Primary 6 pupil studying in a local school.

This girl corresponds with her teacher on MSN Messenger and one day while I was surfing, she started asking me about Christianity and Buddhism. I found it strange that she would ask me these questions and not her parents.

Apparently her teacher had been asking her to attend Saturday worship services by The Rock, a Christian church based at Suntec City. A Buddhist, she replied that her parents would probably not let her go for the service.

The teacher told her it was not up to her parents to decide, that she was free to make up her own mind, and kept pressing her to go for his church’s service.

I find this disturbing in many ways. For one thing, I feel that teachers should not be communicating with their students on such a personal level outside school. A teacher-pupil relationship should always exist within the parameters of education and the school.

Secondly, I am shocked that the teacher is encouraging his pupil to disobey her parents and listen to him instead. This is not the kind of approach our educators should adopt for impressionable teens.

Thirdly, teachers, as educators and authority figures to be respected in school and in society, should be the ones to inculcate tolerance and respect for other cultures and religions.

As most teachers are young educated adults and they form a large percentage of Christians in Singapore, are they allowed to impose their personal values, morals and principles on their pupils?

Is there any restriction or guide that regulates the relationship between teacher and pupil outside the parameters of the education system?

Are teachers allowed to go on MSN Messenger to communicate with their pupils on any issue and topic?

I would like to know the Ministry of Education’s stand on this matter.

See related article:
Teachers are expected to be good role models for students (MOE, 8 Oct 05) – response to the above letter