Singapore education policy

Singapore education policy - June 2006 Draft The...

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1 June 2006 Draft The Development of Education in Singapore since 1965 Background paper prepared for the Asia Education Study Tour for African Policy Makers, June 18 – 30, 2006 By Associate Professor Goh Chor Boon and Professor S. Gopinathan National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore The Asia Education Study Tour includes policy makers from Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana, Lesotho, Madagascar and Mozambique. It is organized by the World Bank in partnership with Singapore and Vietnam, with financial support from Norway, Singapore and the Donor Partners of the Education for All Fast Track Initiative.
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2 This paper highlights key features of the development of education in Singapore over the last 40 years, focusing on how Singapore has been able over this period to develop its education system from a level in the early 1960s quite similar to that of many African countries, to reach a level comparable to the best OECD countries. The analysis is done in the context of the economic and social transformation of Singapore since 1965. Introduction The aftermath of the Pacific War in 1945 had created severe social and economic dislocations for the people of Singapore. Although the British rulers reclaimed control of the trading port, the halo of British invincibility was totally shattered. The people now clamoured for political freedom and economic opportunities. There were frequent industrial strikes and unrest which forced the closure of many British firms and, subsequently, an exodus of British capital out of Singapore. The population grew from about 960,000 in 1948 to about 1.6 million in 1954 but the colonial administration was slow in reviving the economy and in providing enough jobs. There was high unemployment and an acute shortage of public housing. Many squatter colonies sprouted out throughout the suburban and rural areas. In the 1950s, racial integration did not exist and within the plural society the main ethnic groups considered themselves as Chinese, Malays and Indians, rather than as Singaporeans. Religious differences, if
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3 exploited, could lead to communal trouble, and this became a reality in the infamous Maria Hertogh riots. Besides the economic and social woes, British colonial policies relating to education, language and citizenship were responsible for stifling the growth of racial integration and the sharing of a common destiny and identity by the people of Singapore. In education, for example, the government did not attempt to regulate and support the number of Chinese schools and, at the same time, encourage the growth of English-stream schools. The Chinese-educated became an under-privileged group; they had no opportunities for tertiary education nor could they hope to be employed in the civil service. In short, the government failed to recognise the more dynamic and vocal Chinese-educated group. These "gaps" were quickly exploited by the Malayan Communist Party in Singapore and contributed to a decade of political turbulence in the 1950s. 1
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Singapore education policy - June 2006 Draft The...

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