Education in Singapore

A Response to Economic Challenges & Nation Building

Education during the Colonial Period (1819-1945) 
    Mission Schools ± English medium Singapore Free School (1834) ± later RI (1963) King Edward VII College of Medicine (1905) University Of Raffles College (1926) Malaya Vernacular Schools ± Chinese, Malay and Tamil 

Govt support for Malay schools (not all) Role of community ± clan associations, businessmen

Enterprise & pioneering spirit of the various community existed entirely on their own resources  Preservation of cultural & linguistic differences in Singapore

Education was limited to those who could afford (end of colonial period, >40% were illiterate)  Divided along racial lines  Due to world events (revolutionary fervor & changes in
China in the early 20th C)

Politicized threat to the govt

Post-War Years (1945-1965) 
1947 ± Ten-Year Plan 

Free Education ± ages 6-12 yrs To foster capacity for self-govt
MT as medium of instruction  EL from 3rd year  Standardised curriculum  Selection for English Primary School  

Training College

Meanwhile, Unrests continued

Post-War Years (1945-1965) 
1955 ± Limited Self-Government 

All-Party Committee Proposed education policy that met the needs of various committees nationhood NE 

Bilingual primary education Trilingual secondary education ECA Teaching of civics 

Parity of treatment for all 4 language streams  Technical education and industrial training emphasized

‡1959- Policy took shape All & emphasis on Maths and Science ‡1960- 2nd Lang compulsory in Primary School

Challenges of Independence
Political ‡Confrontasi ‡Clashes with Malaysian leaders Highlighted our vulnerability Economic ‡Lost Malaysian hinterland ‡Unemployment (double digit) -fall in entrepot trade -1967 withdrawal of Br forces Social ‡Lacked built-in reflexes (loyalty, patriotism, shared history/ tradition) ‡Population divided by race, language, religion« - 1964 racial riots Solution? Dual role of education Economic transformation Disciplined cohesive society

Post Independence Years
Labour-Intensive Industries (1966-1970s) 

Nation Building Economic Development Education for more people ‡Different types of education were provided for different age groups ‡Malay as the National Language ‡Overall increase in student intake at various levels ‡Focus on Mathematics, Science and Technical subjects

Post Independence Years Labour-Intensive Industries (1966-1970s)
Meeting Economic Challenges
‡1966- Second Language in Secondary schs ‡1969- Lower Sec ± Tech Subject Girls had a choice/ VITB/ Science Labs in all Sec/ SP and NA Tech College 

Nation Building 

‡Improved quality of education
‡Attention to teaching resources, planning (facilities), research, organisation, and evaluation ‡Promote use of Mandarin ‡1978, SAP schools ‡1971, GCE µO¶-levels

Pledge taking, flag raising & lowering ECA grades 1969, common curriculum for all Sec 1 & 2 in all 4 language stream schools

High education wastage 

Attrition rate 29% for primary 36% for secondary 

Variation in academic performance

New Economic Challenges  Labour Shortage  Competition from Other Countries 

Lower cost Lower productivity

Industrial Restructuring -1980s 
Higher/ Tertiary education was encouraged 

‡Improved quality of education
‡Streaming introduced to bring out the best in every individual and to reduce dropout rate ‡GEP, 1984 ‡Increased investment ‡Building more schools, single-session schools ‡1988,89 ± Independent Schools  

Increased intake NU merged with U of Singapore = NUS NTI, 1981 (engineering and technology) 1991, NTU BEST (EL, MA) for large protion of the workforce who have less tha P6 education

‡Relaxed entry to Secondary school

Moving into the 1990s
Economic Restructuring What was the focus in the 1990s?

Further concentration on post secondary and tertiary education to develop the manpower needed for the push to high tech and knowledge intensive products and services

‡1992, SIM ± Open U ‡1997, became privatized ‡1992, ITE ‡1993, Edusave ‡1994, 4th Polytechnic, TP ‡1994-6, Autonomous schools

Twin forces of globalization and technological change

‡Ability-driven ‡Curriculum ‡School environment ‡Teaching service ‡Education structure ‡Education hub ‡Administrative excellence


1997, $2 bil on IT in classrooms IT Masterplan PW NE ECA CCA Post-grad and Arts education encouraged PRIME SEM Cluster Schools Compulsory Education, 2000

Education Policies & Practices in Singapore
60s-70s ‡Flag-raising & Pledge-taking ‡Billingualism ‡Vocational Traning ‡ECAs ‡Technical Education ‡Schools given Greater Autonomy ‡NE ‡CIP ‡Compulsory Pri Education (2000) 80s-early 90s ‡Streaming ‡Moral Values ‡IT Late 1990s ‡Caring Thinking & Creative thinking

Education Policies & Practices in Singapore
21st Century TLLM (2003) Integrated Programme/ Through Train (2003) Future Schools (2008) Specialised Schools - NUS Maths & Science School - School of Science & Technology - School of the Arts - Singapore Sports School - Pathlight & Northlight Schools

Education Policies & Practices in Singapore
Leveling up for all economic-social classes? ‡ Financial Assistance Schemes ‡ Government Bursaries ‡ Edusave Scheme (1993)
‡ ‡ ‡ to maximise opportunities for all Singaporean children rewards students who perform well or who make good progress provides students and schools with funds to pay for enrichment programmes or to purchase additional resources.

Summing Up
What are the features of our education system? Do you agree with what the government has done so far? What would you do differently?

Practice Question
µInstilling and reinforcing national loyalty through National Education is the main consideration of our education system¶. Do you agree with the statement? EYA

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