Singapore: Retraction of invitation to hearing-impaired educator

“Susan Elliot has spent three decades in education and taught thousands of students. She is bright, articulate, and has a great sense of humor,” writes Mr Anthony Mullen on the Teacher Magazine website. “She teaches social studies and history to mainstream and hearing-impaired students-all in the same classroom.
Her unique ability to teach social studies and history to both “regular” and hearing-impaired students in the same classroom is a remarkable display of master teaching.”
Her credentials were so impressive that the Singapore Ministry of Education invited her to the Teachers’ Conference to be held  in September in Singapore this year.
However, when the MOE learnt that Ms Elliot was hearing-impaired, it withdrew its invitation to Ms Elliot.
According to Mr Mullen, the MOE attributed the invitation and then its retraction as a “miscommunication”. “The so-called discovery and subsequent retraction of her invitation was an act of disingenuous statesmanship because the Singapore education officials knew all along that Susan was deaf,” said Mr Mullen whose article was widely circulated on the Internet and social networking site Facebook.
MOE's decision has caused a uproar in the blogosphere, with many bloggers condemning it's decision.
Popular Singaporean blogger, Mr Brown, slammed MOE's officials. He wrote:
If you have already invited the person, leave her invited lah. Why retract it unless you found out she is some kind of terrorist or a potential threat to national security?
And if the MOE really disinvited her because she is, God forbid, DEAF, then shame on you, Singapore education officials. You deserve all the international and domestic derision you will get for this.
Singaporean blogger, Callan Tham, was worried about the message MOE was sending to students and the world with its decision. He wrote:
I think this is a damaging message to send out to our students and to the world. Susan Elliot deserves better, and our students deserve no less. This behaviour by our education officials are nothing short of shameful, and the Ministry of Education owes everyone involved a really good explanation.
MOE has since invited Miss Elliot back to the conference after a Singapore advocacy journalism blog, The Online Citizen, asked MOE about its decision:
In reply to a query by The Online Citizen over the incident, the MOE said “the withdrawal of our invitation to Ms Susan Elliot was a mistake on our part” which resulted from “our misunderstanding about the need for interpreters and her professional experience.”
The MOE says the chairman of the Organising Committee for the September conference has since spoken to Ms Elliot personally to convey the ministry’s apologies. “We should have clarified these matters before making the decision,” it said in its reply to TOC.
“Ms Elliot has accepted our apology and the Organising Committee is delighted that she will participate at the Teachers’ Conference in September. We look forward to her contributions in making the Conference a success,” the MOE said.

1 comment

  • I could even understand their explanation. I mean, of course it was stupid to react so precipitous, but we all do this sometimes and later regret it, because we see that we should have acted more deliberately. Sometimes we just make a mountain out of a molehill not seeing possible solutions or overrating several problems. Yet, maybe I am also too trustful.

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