By The Centre for Research on Islamic and Malay Affairs (RIMA)

The Ministry of Education’s initiative to integrate the Israel-Palestine conflict into educational discussions, particularly within a program aimed at fostering social harmony and inculcating national values like the CCE, raised important questions about how best to introduce students to complex international disputes while maintaining a commitment to balanced and thoughtful discourse. This piece explores four areas of concern: the suitability of this topic within the CCE syllabus, the methods used to teach it, the challenges surrounding teacher preparation, and parents’ reaction to MOE’s initiative.

CCE Lessons and the Israel-Palestine Conflict – a Glaring Mismatch

Incorporating the Israel-Palestine issue into the CCE syllabus risks oversimplifying the issue which can lead to a skewed understanding of the conflict among students. The curriculum’s potential shortcoming in exploring the conflict’s detailed history and human impact can result in a simplified narrative. This, in turn, does not help fulfil the goal of developing informed, empathetic individuals well-versed in global affairs, particularly one that is still on-going. Consequently, students may find it challenging to critically assess complex international disputes or understand their extensive repercussions, limiting their participation in meaningful conversations on peace and justice.

Given the objectives of the CCE curriculum, particularly with regards to teaching conflict resolution skills to primary and secondary students, it is more suitable to choose topics that are both relevant and suitable for their age and developmental stage. Instead of delving into the Israel-Palestine conflict, the curriculum could focus on more relatable and manageable disputes that students are likely to encounter in their lives. For example, resolving disagreements among peers, understanding and mediating schoolyard conflicts, or navigating differences within family settings offer practical, everyday contexts where students can apply conflict resolution principles.

Addressing The Lesson’s “Neutrality”

The CCE curriculum in addressing the Israel-Palestine conflict, reflecting Singapore’s policy of neutrality through highlighting the importance of maintaining relations with Israelis and Palestinians[1] inadvertently distorts its representation.

Although new slides could be introduced, the foundational goal of appearing neutral and portraying this as a fight between two friends (an analogy used in the leaked slides) will always overlook the asymmetrical nature of the struggle, and hence the material will inevitably not represent the conflict fairly. Furthermore, by including the Singapore Mufti and Rabbi’s interaction in the aftermath of October 7, 2023, the content of the lesson presents a religious element to the conflict. While the exchange of letters by the two religious leaders is seen as a good example of social harmony, it can also be seen as problematic. This is because students might conflate the Palestine-Israel conflict as between Jews and Muslims exclusively. The slides do not indicate that the Palestinians comprise Muslims, Christians, and other religious groups. Even protests worldwide demanding a ceasefire are not led or attended exclusively by Muslims either.

Teacher Preparedness – Challenges in Execution

The issue of adequately preparing educators to facilitate discussions about the Israel-Palestine conflict within CCE lessons has been identified as a critical concern. Educators themselves have expressed that the short duration of training sessions does not equip them with a sufficient foundation to lead detailed discussions on such a complex and contentious topic. “No one can call themselves trained to facilitate the discussion when the training was barely an hour plus,” shared a social studies teacher with a decade of experience. Furthermore, a secondary school mathematics teacher with 15 years of experience found the topic “very hard to teach” due to its volatile nature, stating, “I was not ‘confident to deal with questions or issues raised in class’.”[2]

Parental feedback, as illustrated in an open letter to MOE, reveals deep-seated issues with the accuracy of the historical content presented. The letter also touches upon a reluctance among some educators to consider student feedback, as in some instances, students’ attempts to address misinformation were ignored or even penalised[3].

Education Minister Chan Chun Sing recently acknowledged the challenges and expressed his dedication to offering support and facilitating a way for teachers to request to be excused from conducting these lessons. This addresses some concerns but falls short of fully tackling the deeper structural issues at play. Without a solid foundation in the subject matter, even educators who do not opt out of teaching these lessons might struggle to do the topic justice, particularly when students ask difficult questions on specific developments of this conflict.

Parents’ Sentiments and The Choice to Opt-out

Parents were also not given more advance notice of the introduction of this topic and have argued that they should have been offered the opportunity to decide whether their children participate in these lessons. They believe the Ministry of Education (MOE) should not have allowed discussions on topics that the ministry is not prepared to present accurately and impartially, and for which teachers seem unprepared to address in classroom settings[4].

With that being said, the implications of opting out of CCE lessons should also be considered. Firstly, there are no guarantees that parents themselves are well-placed to engage with their children on this matter since parents are also susceptible to biases and misinformation. Secondly, excluding some students from the CCE lesson might lead to more harm than good. The exclusion of certain students from such a program, while a substantial number continue to partake in it, might result in an environment of divisiveness in schools.


1 Lee explains importance for Singapore to maintain relations with Israelis and Palestinians, provide aid to civilians – CNA (

The Centre for Research on Islamic and Malay Affairs (RIMA), a research subsidiary of AMP Singapore, has developed a range of programmes in research and established several platforms for the meeting of minds. RIMA conducts research in a number of key areas, which includes economics, education, religion, family, social integration, leadership and civil society. 

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