Global Themes in Singaporean Secondary Social Studies Textbooks

This study aimed at finding out whether Singaporean secondary social studies textbooks contain global themes, in which grade level those global themes are introduced, the percentage of global themes in socials studies textbooks at each grade level, and which global themes are emphasized. A checklist consisting of four main global themes was developed. Those are (1) global systems such as cultural, political, economic, ecological, technological, social, educational and healthcare systems, international organizations and international law; (2) global issues such as peace and conflict resolution, refugees; (3) human values like tolerance and cooperation, and (4) global history such as ancient civilizations, history of world religions, the industrial revolution, colonization and liberation movements. It was found that 35 % of the social studies themes in the four high school grades together were global. Global themes constituted 16% of the first secondary grade textbook, 1.5% of the second secondary grade textbook, 64% of the third secondary grade textbook and 31% of the fourth secondary grade. It was also found that the first and second secondary textbooks mainly focus on world history. In the third secondary textbooks, 17% of the themes were allocated to global systems and human values, 27% to global issues, 7% to global history. In the fourth secondary grade textbook, 7% of the themes were allocated to global systems, 16% to global issues and 7% to global history. It was concluded that Singaporean secondary school social studies textbooks develop a global perspective in Singaporean students through a theme-based approach and a selection of a variety of current global issues in well-designed textbooks that develop independent and critical thinking skills and participation goals.

Prof. Reima Al-jarf
King Saud University
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

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