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Civics and moral education is introduced 23rd Feb 1991

Civics and moral education was introduced on 23 February 1991 to replace religious knowledge lessons in schools.[1] Religious knowledge was made a compulsory subject in schools in January 1984 to instil moral values in students.[2] From 1990, however, this was no longer offered as a compulsory subject, as the Ministry of Education felt that the imparting of religious values should be the responsibility of parents instead of schools.[3] Furthermore, the ministry noted that it was inappropriate for schools to offer this subject, since Singapore is a secular state.[4]

Civics and moral education aimed to cultivate individuals who could put society before self, live harmoniously with one another and contribute effectively to Singapore’s multicultural society.[5] To achieve this, the civics and moral education syllabus was designed to strengthen inter-ethnic and inter-religious tolerance, instil a deeper sense of civic and social responsibility, and foster stronger commitment and loyalty to the nation.[6] A core area that the syllabus covered was the five principles of Singapore’s national ideology, known as Shared Values: placing society before self; upholding the family as the basic building block of society; respecting the rights of individuals and offering community support; resolving issues through consensus, not conflict; and racial and religious harmony.[7]

Students were encouraged to reflect on their own experiences and apply what they have learnt in civics and moral education classes to real-life situations.[8] The teaching methods employed to facilitate this process ranged from colourful workbooks, slides and jigsaws to group discussions and videos.[9]

1. Younger pupils will be taught new civics course. (1991, February 24). The Straits Times, p. 13. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
2. Tan, J. (1982, January 17). Religion to be a compulsory subject. The Straits Times, p. 1; Alfred, H., & Tan, J. (1984, January 3). Changes in learning. The Straits Times, p. 40. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. Henson, B. (1989, October 7). RK to be replaced with civics. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
4.The Straits Times, 7 Oct 1989, p. 1.
5. Moral education to focus on ‘society before self’. (1990, February 25). The Straits Times, p. 18. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
6. The Straits Times, 25 Feb 1990, p. 18.
7. The Straits Times, 24 Feb 1991, p. 13.
8. Nirmala, M. (1992, February 9). Students learn civic and moral values through active role in new school programme. The Straits Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. The Straits Times, 9 Feb 1992, p. 12.


The information in this article is valid as at 2014 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

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