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Over time British rule affected every aspect of life in Singapore including education. Gupta (1998) explains that
"The educational impact of the political developments was essentially a move from the private to the public. As the British government became increasingly directly involved in Singapore, an education policy began to develop (Bloom 1986, Gupta 1994). In the early years education was largely in the hands of private organisations, churches, and charitable bodies. The Annual Report on the Administration of the Straits Settlements has a brief section on education from the report of 1856-57 onwards, and this report gets more and more substantial as time goes on. Schools, both government and non-government, were increasingly supervised and compliance with policy had financial consequences as the century progressed (Gupta 1998). "
Initially the teaching of the English Language in Singapore was designed for the boys and girls who were European and Eurasian (Gupta 1998). Additionally some Singaporeans who could afford English Language classes took them (Gupta 1998). Furthermore, the Malays were encouraged not to learn English and to be educated in Malay instead (Gupta 1998). The government was so adamant about this that people were given financial assistance to study in Malay but not English. Over time the government encouraged everyone to be educated in English (Gupta 1998). The author also points out that there were different methods for teaching English in Singapore. It is often assumed that the early schools of the Straits Settlements instructed British English utilizing an RP accent (Gupta 1998). Even though many characteristics of SE did materialize in Singapore, it cannot be supposed that the starting point was British English, let alone with an Received Pronunciation accent (Gupta, 1998).
Obviously, the learning of the English Language was restricted to certain classes when English instructor first came to Singapore. Only the ruling class and other who could afford such lessons took them. The research seems to indicate that the learning of English was a task left to the more elite of society in Singapore. After all, these would be the individuals who would need to be able to speak English as Singapore became more open to visitors from other parts of the world. In addition the speaking of English in Singapore had almost everything to do with the extension of British rule into the area. Like other nations that have been under the rule of the British, speaking English became more critical over time and eventually it became compulsory for every student to learn English and the nation of Singapore made it the official language of the nation.
As it relates to education in Singapore in the 1990's the Singaporean government began to recognize the impact of globalization on all aspects of life including education. Koh (2004) explains that
"Globalisation, regardless of how we define it or what stance we take, has direct consequences on teaching and learning, schooling, education policies, and reform. There is a sense that structures of schooling, and more importantly what is taught in schools, is now obsolete or has no relevance to new economic conditions and the techno-environment of the new workplace. At risk of becoming defunct, schools are rapidly consolidating how and what to teach in the name of reform, premised on the exigencies of the new semiotic economy. These changes are articulated in the ubiquitous rubric of "education reform," "restructuring' ',"innovation," "curriculum intervention," "new pedagogies," and the like, around the world (Koh, 2004)."
For instance, in America reform in the area of education is mandated around a sense of crisis created by significantly higher attrition rates in addition to a decrease in basic literacy and numeracy skills. There have also been high failure rates as it pertains to standardized tests, and the idea that there has been a significant decline in standards and discipline in American schools (Apple, 2000; Koh, 2004). Additionally, places such as Queensland, Australia, have also implemented educational reform (Koh, 2004). In Queensland the new education reform had been described as Education Towards 2010(Koh, 2004). This education reform is designed to address troubles associated with of new poverty, and new student identities. In addition the author points out the development new life pathways and shifting markets for employment and unemployment" (Education Queensland, 2001, p. 9 quoted in Koh, 2004). The author further explains that "globalization heralds new times where a new "crisis" brought about by "social, economic, political and cultural changes of a deeper kind" (Hall, 1996, p. 223) has also affected education and effected educational change (Koh, 2004)."
Indeed, the role of education has changed great in countries throughout the world as a result of globalization. These changes have occurred because globalization forces nations to examine their strengths and weaknesses in comparison to other nations. Understanding these strengths and weaknesses is vitally important because the world in which we live has evolved through technological advances. These advances often mean that people from all over the world have access to some of the same jobs and their ability to do these jobs is based primarily on whether or not they are equipped to carry out the job. For instance, the outsourcing of customer service and technical jobs has been occurring on a significant level over the last decade. The determining factors as to whether or not certain jobs are outsourced is often dependent upon whether or not there are substantial numbers of people in the country who can speak English. Speaking English proficiently is essential because many customers/clients are from English speaking nations. With these things understood concerning the impact and power of globalization, education systems in schools around the world have reformed the way they educate young people.
As with the aforementioned countries, Singapore also discovered the need to implement education reform and such changes were implemented in 1997. These changes included the development of a policy know as "Thinking Schools, Learning Nation" (TSLN) (Koh, 2004). TSLN required the development of a new curriculum intervention. This intervention emphasized a greater need for critical thinking skills and IT skills. Additionally, the curriculum reforms also introduced citizenship education which is referred to as national education (NE) (Koh, 2004). After the execution of TSLN, several changes occurred including new initiatives associated with pedagogy, curriculum and assessment of students (Koh, 2004). In addition, higher education requirements and many education policies were also restructured (Koh, 2004). The author asserts that these changes were provoked by changes in both global and local needs in Singapore. The author points out that the reformation of the education system in Singapore can be attributed to the "response to the trajectories of (global) economic conditions, concomitantly framed by (local) sociopolitical and cultural ideological needs, is an act of tactical globalization (Koh, 2004)." The author further posits that education policies are not only put in place to decrease the anxieties of the nation, such policies are also used "ideologically as administrative apparatus to govern, discipline, and regulate the Singaporean habitus (Koh, 2004)."
As with other countries throughout the world Singapore recognized the importance of developing an education system consistent with the challenges of globalization. The Singaporean government recognized that students would need to be proficient in different types of curriculum to be successful in a more globalized world. The government not only recognized the need for students to be taught differently, but also the need for them to be assessed differently. The changes to the education system in Singapore took on many different forms and the next section of this review will concentrate on some of the change that occurred in the education system in Singapore.
The author points out that change in the sphere of education can take on many different forms (Koh, 2004). For instance, such reforms may occur in the variety of the inclusion of new curriculum inclusion or new pedagogies. In addition education systems may also choose to take on new assessment methods, alter their leadership personal, train teachers, adopt a new language policy, place greater emphasis on co-curricular activities or change the manner in which the administration functions (Koh, 2004). It is also the case that changes in an education system might also include a new direction associated with the "developmental skills formation model" (Ashton, Green, James, & Sung, 1999, p. ) or a model that pursues democracy, social justice, and equity (New London Group, 1996; compare Freire, 1972; (Koh, 2004 )."
However all forms of educational reform are not workable when dealing with a clean slate. For instance authors Taylor, Rizvi, Lingard, and Henry (1997) have asserted that prior history and specific experiences in addition the political and ideological environment that is present. There are also economic and social conditions that shape educational reform (Koh, 2004 ). The authors also point out that changes in education are provoked by changes in the global environment which can have a profound effect on the local environment and the issues that a society faces (Koh, 2004 ). For instance, bilingual language policy in Singapore is an example of the global environment effecting…[continue]
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