The issue with MOE and the #FixSchoolsNotStudents tag |


There’s been a lot of attention on MOE lately, with the latest being the arrest of three individuals on Tuesday for a protest against transphobia outside the MOE building along Buona Vista Drive. In case you missed the entire saga, here’s what happened.

Protest at MOE against transphobia

On Tuesday, a group of five individuals showed up at the MOE building with placards with slogans like “#FIX SCHOOLS NOT STUDENTS”, “WHY ARE WE NOT IN YOUR SEX ED”, and “trans students deserve access to HEALTHCARE & SUPPORT”. On Twitter, the hashtag #FixSchoolsNotStudents went viral in Singapore.

However, by the time the police arrived, only three individuals remained, and as they did not have a police permit to carry out the public assembly, they were arrested.

In a statement from Community Action Network SG, the protesters’ urged the education ministry to acknowledge and apologise for the harm done by schools to the LGBTQ+ community through their schools’ discriminatory practice. The protesters’ actions were a response to a trans student’s experience published in a Reddit post earlier this month. According to the post, MOE had prevented her from receiving hormone therapy and she was thrown out of the school compound because her hair length did not comply with the boy’s dress code.

According to CNA, the ministry denied these claims, saying it was “not true” that it had interfered with the student’s treatment and inviting the student to approach the school to “clarify and discuss how the school can support his schooling better”.

Another issue related to MOE concerned another aspect: privacy.

Schools monitoring student laptops

In an article by The Straits Times, students at JCs and Millennia Institute who use their own laptops or tablets for school work – instead of those supplied by their schools (although not for free) – must have their devices meet school specifications, according to MOE.

This means students must install a device management application (DMA) on their device, similar to those installed on school-selected devices. The DMA allows schools and parents to monitor the device by “restricting certain applications from being accessible by students, managing screen time, and allowing the teacher to monitor students’ screens during the lesson.”

Many students took to Reddit to vent their frustration at the monitoring of private devices, leading to a petition against MOE for implementing the DMA on personal laptops. As at Wednesday (Jan 27), more than 5,500 people had signed it.

Many students argue that not only does it reduce their control, freedom, and privacy, information and personal data are at risk of being hacked should the programme be breached.

One of the functions of the DMA is for the school and teachers to block “inappropriate websites with adult and extremist content”, as well as restrict gaming websites and applications.

Perhaps it was timely that the news regarding the detaining of a 16-year old Singaporean boy for domestic terrorism came out on Wednesday. Arrested in December, the Secondary 4 student was revealed to have plans to attack Muslims with machetes at two mosques in the Woodlands area in March.

According to CNA, he prepared himself for the attack by watching YouTube videos. He also watched the livestream video of the terrorist attack on the two mosques in Christchurch on Mar 2019, as well as ISIS propaganda videos.

Would the DMA have prevented this influence on the 16-year old? Who knows. All eyes are on MOE at the moment for what they would do next.