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Uniquely Singapore Education Courting the Tourist Dollar. Yang Shuang Yu Tian Tong Xueyin Justinian Tnag. Meritocracy. Definition :

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uniquely singapore education courting the tourist dollar

Uniquely SingaporeEducationCourting the Tourist Dollar

Yang Shuang

Yu Tian

Tong Xueyin

Justinian Tnag

  • Definition:

‘Meritocracy is a fundamental ideology in Singapore and a fundamental principle in the education system which aims to identify and groom bright young students for positions of leadership.

The system places a great emphasis on academic performance in grading students and granting their admission to special programmes and universities.’

  • Basic guiding principle of Singapore’s governance as well as education
  • Evidence:
  • Various scholarships and bursaries

- e.g. PSC scholarship; NUS- Singapore Lions' Club Bursary Award

  • Divide students into different streams since secondary and even primary schools

e.g. Express/normal streams

  • History of meritocracy
  • Originated from Ancient China
  • Confucianism: the first merit-based civil service system existed in the imperial bureaucracy of China
  • Spread from China to the West during the Enlightenment
  • Why Singapore adopts meritocracy
  • Traditional views of the founding fathers of Singapore
  • Ensure social equality especially in a multi-racial society
  • Important in the building of nation
  • Ensure fairness


  • Efficient use of resources

- Resources are given to people who have the ability to make best use of it

  • Ensure social mobility

- Students from lower socio-economical backgrounds can improve their status through their own hard work



  • Statistics have show that it may actually reduce social mobility
    • More than half of the parents of students in RI have university education,while the highest percentage in neighborhood school is 13.7%
    • May lead to social stratification
  • Meritocracy may not be just since:
  • Different standards of merits are involved

- Academic vs. Leadership

  • Some factors are out of our control (e.g. social status, inherited wealth, etc.)

- A study by Ghent University has even shown that Children who are first in birth order are more likely to be hard working

  • Leading to elitism
  • Evidence in Singapore:

- Parents are willing to do community service and even move their homes in order to get their children into good primary schools

- Concentration of educational resources in top schools such as RI

- Special Programmes (such as SMTP)

  • Danger of elitism
  • Branding of students
  • Complacency and intellectual snobbery
  • Lack of appreciation towards the society

A debatable case: the Wee Shu Min elitism controversy

  • The Wee Shu Min elitism controversy

On 21 Oct 2006, Wee Shu Min, the daughter of Ang Mo Kio GRC MP Wee Siew Kim, who was also a RJ graduates, was slammed by netizens for her elitist and naïve comments on the blog of Derek Wee who voiced his concerns on job security and age discrimination

  • Wee Shu Min (left)

called Derek a "stupid crackpot", belonging to "the sadder class" and overreliant on the government. Her post also called for Derek to "get out of my elite uncaring face”.

  • An important guiding principle in Singapore’s politics and education
  • ‘Westerners value the freedoms and liberties of the individual. As an Asian of Chinese cultural background, my values are for a government which is honest, effective and efficient.’

- Lee Kuan Yew

  • Why Singapore adopts pragmatism
  • Lack of natural resources
  • Social and political needs to achieve rapid economic growth in order to ensure stability

Therefore, Singapore government, ie the PAP, has always taken economic performance to be above other concerns such as human rights


Pragmatism in education

  • Purpose of education: to equip students with necessary skills to find jobs rather than to develop critical and creative thinking skills
  • overbearing focus on grades and paper qualification
  • Teaching-learning pedagogy


  • Credential-oriented system
  • Overly-focused on exam results and grades

- Ubiquitous TYS and guidebooks

- Students focus more on the results rather than the learning process

  • The other extreme: many students blindly engage in a plethora of competitions, CIPs and commitments, for the mere sake of boosting their curriculum vitae and portfolios
  • Proliferation of rote memorization

- affectionately termed as “mugging” or “pure regurgitation”, as a must-do if a student wanted to excel in standardized exams

- hones exam skills but does not develop creative and critical thinking skills

  • A cornerstone of the Singapore education system
  • While English is medium of instruction in schools, most students are required to take a Mother Tongue subject, which could be one of the three official languages: Chinese, Malay or Tamil.
  • Changing objectives:
  • First introduced in 1966 with the primary objective of promoting English as the common language among the diverse ethnic groups in Singapore
  • Nowadays: to educate students with their mother tongues and impart traditional values



critical thinking
Critical Thinking
  • Exams nowadays require more thinking skills
    • E.g. AQ question for GP, Planning questions for sciences, and essay questions for humanity subjects
    • Analytical and critical thinking
    • room for self-expression and creativity
    • Practical values of knowledge
alternative pathways
Alternative Pathways
  • Tendency to be less exam-oriented
    • e.g. Integrated Programme
      • That’s the reason why we are here :)
        • From 2012, seven new schools will offer the Integrated Programme, bringing the total to 18
      • More depth and breath of knowledge
        • E.g. deeper and broader subjects, enrichments, competitions, etc
      • Criticism of IP student disadvantage
        • BUT, for the 1st batch of IP students, similar performance to the previous cohort of non-IP students in the same schools
alternative pathways1
Alternative Pathways
  • E.g. Direct School Admission (DSA)
      • 91 schools in the 2012 DSA-Sec Exercise
      • 15 government and government-aided JCs: 10%

four independent institutions: 20%

    • Recognition of a diverse range of achievements
      • Include non-academic areas e.g. music, sports
arts school
Arts School
  • E.g. School of the Arts (SOTA)
    • Singapore’s first national pre-tertiary specialised arts school
    • AIMS of its education
      • creative thinking
      • expression and communication in the arts
      • being in an arts community
liberal education
Liberal Education
  • E.g. Yale-NUS college (1st! :O)
  • Small size of college classes
      • E.g. around 85% of all classes in Swarthmore College has less than 19 students per class. In addition, only one class has more than 100 students
  • More resources for undergraduates
    • more full time faculty with PhD degrees than a large research university

Success story of LIBERAL ARTS COLLEGE

      • Liberal arts colleges produce nearly twice as many students who earn a PhD in science as other institutions.
      • a fifth of all US presidents were liberal arts college graduates
      • Pulitzer Prize winners
  • Liberal Arts education
    • Broad-based education

Skilled Singapore workforce that possesses intellectual curiosity, confidence, maturity and inclusiveness

  • Great emphasis on uniformity and conformity
  • Shifting towards liberal
  • useful to Singapore
    • enhances student learning
    • produces college graduates well-equipped for the economy
courting the tourist dollar
Courtingthe Tourist Dollar
  • Tourism in Singapore:
    • major industry and contributor to economy
    • attracted 13,171,303 tourists in 2011
  • Why?
    • cultural attraction
    • natural and heritage conservation programs
    • Environmentally friendly
    • Low crime rates
    • Convenient transport system
    • Common language: English
development of singapore s tourism industry
Development of Singapore’s tourism industry
  • The Singapore Tourist Promotion Board:
    • first established in 1964
    • promote Singapore as a tourist destination
    • First used the Merlion as its logo
  • Post independence:
    • tourism spurred on by technological improvements in transportation and communications
    • welcomed as a means to create employment and boost the economy
development of singapore s tourism industry1
Development of Singapore’s tourism industry
  • Board actively encouraged investment in infrastructural development
  • such as the building of hotels
  • tourist attractions like the Jurong Bird Park
  • resort island of Sentosa.
development of singapore s tourism industry2
Development of Singapore’s tourism industry
  • 1970s:
    • "garden attractions and modern hotels“
    • “Instant Asia”, or a "melting pot" of Asian cultures
Development of Singapore’s tourism industry
  • Mid-1980s:
    • weakness of infrastructure were identified for falling tourism
  • heralded the implementation of a S$1 billion Tourism Product Development Plan
    • the redevelopment of ethnic “enclaves” such as Chinatown, Little India, Arab Street and Kampong Glam as well as historical sites like the Singapore River



development of singapore s tourism industry3
Development of Singapore’s tourism industry

start of 21st century

  • Uniquely Singapore Brand Campaign rolled out in 2004
  • 11 January 2005
    • Minister for Trade and Industry, Mr Lim Hng Kiang, unveiled the Board's bold targets
    • triple Tourism Receipts to S$30 billion, double visitor arrivals to 17 million, and create an additional 100,000 jobs in the services sector by 2015
    • catalysed by a S$2 billion Tourism Development Fund.
2015 vision targets and initiatives
2015 - Vision, Targets and Initiatives
  • Set against the backdrop of growing opportunities
  • ensure that the tourism sector in Singapore remains competitive
  • three key areas of focus:
  • 1. Strengthening Singapore’s position as a Leading Convention & Exhibition City in Asia with a strong and dynamic business environment
  • 2. Developing Singapore as a leading Asian leisure destination by providing an enriching experience that is Uniquely Singapore.
  • 3. Establishing Singapore as the Services Centre of Asia a place where visitors come to enjoy high-end quality services such as healthcare and education services.
recent developments
Recent Developments

Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay (2002)

recent developments1
Recent Developments

Singapore Flyer (2008)

Marina Barrage (2008)

recent developments2
Recent Developments

F1 Grand Prix (2008-2011)

Youth Olympic Games 2010

recent developments3
Recent Developments

Marina Bay Sands Integrated Resorts

recent developments4
Recent Developments

Resorts World Sentosa

recent developments5
Recent Developments

Gardens by the Bay (29 June 2012)

  • Increasingly expanding its target to the global market
  • Begun hosting international events that garner a variety of supporters/tourists (eg. 2009 World Gourmet Summit, 2010 YOG, 20th International Orchid Convention[2011])
  • Increasing focuses on modernity and commercialism
The “all-evil” Casino
  • Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Casinos
  • Against traditional Asian values
  • Despite an outcry from civic and religious groups opposed to the project

"A casino glorifies gambling. When you have a casino with the government fully endorsing it, that changes the perception of what gambling is all about," said Joanna Koh-Hoe, vice president of the social group Focus on the Family Singapore.

government s countermeasures
Government’s Countermeasures

Casino Regulatory Authority of Singapore (2008)

  • responsible for ensuring that the management and operation of the casinos in Singapore remains free from criminal influence or exploitation

National Council on Problem Gambling

  • set up in Singapore in 2005 to address problem gambling


  • steep entrance fee of S$100 per entry or S$2,000 per year
  • Exclusion order
  • casinos would not be allowed to extend credit to the local population
  • Despite the ill construction of casinos, the government adopts strict policies to protect locals from suffering its ill effects => “Father knows best”
  • “Integrated Resorts” not “Casino”
    • RW Sentosa: inclusion of USS and other attractions makes it a family destination, not a gathering ground for gamblers
    • Marina Bay Sands: Glamorous Hotels, Gardens by the Bay and other high-end leisure amenities seem to push it a notch up, rather than just a gambling facility
  • developing attractions according to the tastes of the tourists, despite threats to our traditional valuese.g. Merlion & Casino
  • Commercialisation of Singapore's traditional culturee.g. Reconstruction of Chinatown and other historical sites to attract more tourist results in the loss of original character and authentic element of the place.
  • In recent years, Singapore has started building more attractions that are modern and luxurious, and have a smaller emphasis on cultural appeal(eg. USS, MBS). The construction of the 2 casinos was a great turning points as well. In this sense, we may be heading in a more liberal direction.
  • However, the Government still maintains its role as “Guardian”, and enforces certain rules and regulations so that our actions are kept in check.
take on tourism
Take on Tourism
  • What’s YOUR take on tourism?
  • Modern?
  • Traditional?
  • Boring?
  • For us, it’s just a little HIDDEN.