2020 Social Studies Structure Response Question
One of my students sent a message on WhatsApp saying that there is a new question type in the 2020 Social Studies Structured Response or SRQ Question immediately after the paper. Confused by this news, I asked him to send me a photo of the 2020 Social Studies examination script.
After looking at the question, I concluded that it is not a new Social Studies Structure Response question type – it is still the same (a) question. Instead of asking for two strategies or reasons, it is asking for two messages.
I will be discussing the answers to the 2020 Social Studies Structured Response Question in this blog post and I hope that students will pick up some tips from this.
Due to copyright, I will not be writing down the extracts in the examination paper. I will be discussing the questions only.
2020 Social Studies Structure Response Question (a)
Extract 1 is a simple chart that shows that most plastic waste are not recycled. In addition, out of the waste that are not recycled, 20% are plastic bags.
The question requires students to state what messages they would share about how to reduce the amount of plastic waste generated. As this question focuses on reducing plastic waste, students must ensure they keep their answer focused.
One message I can share to reduce plastic waste would be to bring your own bags when you go grocery shopping (Point)
Plastic bags compromise the largest section of not recycled plastic. Many people get plastic bags when they go grocery shopping. However, many of these plastic bags go to waste as the supermarkets are very generous in giving out plastic bags. (Example)
If Singaporeans can reduce the use of plastic bags, they would naturally reduce the number of plastic bags that go unrecycled. Singaporeans can bring their own reusable bags or even their backpacks to pack their groceries. (Evidence)
When more people switch over to reusable bags, it reduces plastic waste. (Link)
Another message I would share is to reuse plastic bags if you happen to get them. (Point)
Sometimes it is not so easy to bring your own bag. It could be a last-minute grocery trip, or you happen to need to buy items when you are out doing other errands. That is why if we have plastic bags, we should try to reuse them. (Explain)
Many Singaporeans already reuse plastic bags to some extent by using them as bin liners. This is not enough. Why don’t we all bring some plastic bags with us all the time? It can be in our bag or even in our wallets. This way, we always use them when we need to carry some item. (Evidence)
In conclusion by reusing plastic bags, we will help to reduce plastic waste. (Link)
2020 Social Studies Structured Response Question (b)
The second sub-question usually gives two competing factors and tasks students to evaluate both. In this case, students need to argue which one is more challenging.
Though the two factors are found in the textbook, it is not straightforward as the textbook only explains them while students need to figure out which one is harder to implement.
Managing competing needs and interests of can be extremely challenging for governments. (Point)
This can be difficult because there are many groups in a country, each with different interests and priorities. In many cases, their interests and priorities conflict with each other and the government needs to evaluate how to accommodate the interests of both groups. In many cases, there are limits to what the government can do to pacify one side. Ultimately governments may have to sacrifice one group as they are unable to please everybody. (Explain)
For instance, hospices are important speciality healthcare facilities. They are used to house patients with terminal diseases. The patients require emotional, spiritual, and even physical comfort in the last stage of their lives. To them, being able to stay in a hospice is vital. However, many residences do not like the idea of having a hospice built near them. They are superstitious and feel that hospices bring bad luck since most patients end up dying. They also feel that their property prices will decrease. Hence, they protest and complain to their MPs when they know a hospice is planned. (Evidence)
However, hospices are required. They also cannot be built in a place where there are no residences as it would make visits difficult. As a result, governments find it difficult to balance the needs of both sides. (Link)
On the other hand, strengthening citizen’s sense of belonging can also be challenging. (Point)
It can be challenging especially for countries with a diverse mix of ethnic groups or religions. This is because a government needs to find something common to all these groups to anchor them. Many countries use a combination of education and participation in common activities to strengthen their sense of belonging. This is not easy if the cultures of the different groups are too wide to bridge. (Explain)
This can be seen in the French example. France has allowed immigration from former French colonies. The new immigrants have a different culture and religion from the French. France has tried to build a sense of national identity by emphasizing secularism in school. Hence, French schools do not touch on any religions except History and Philosophy classes. They believe these can help immigrants join French secular society. However, this has created tension as many immigrants still retain their religious identity. (Evidence)
Indeed, strengthening citizen’s sense of belonging is challenging. (Link)
In conclusion, I believe that managing competing needs and interest of citizens is more challenging then strengthening the sense of belonging for many governments. (Thesis)
One reason is that many governments have citizens that are homogeneous. This makes it easier for them. For governments that have different ethnic or cultural groups, most problems are due to adult immigrants. Most of them grew up in another country and thus still identify with their previous country or culture. However, their children and the generations below would have no existing identity, making it easier to strengthen their belonging. On the other hand, competing needs and interest between groups can be impossible to manage as their needs contradict each other. As a result, there is no leeway for compromise. Hence, governments need to thread carefully to navigate these challenges.
I feel the 2020 Social Studies SRQ is more difficult compared to previous years. Unlike most years, which were straight comparisons, this year seemed more difficult as one of the factors depended on the country.
Nevertheless, the 2020 Social Studies SRQ would be able to challenge students. All the best to all the Social Studies students in Singapore.
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