Saturday, June 13, 2009

Books on Singapore's Education System

There is a phenomenon in Singapore in the areas of public services where others have only praise and envy for our systems and policies and yet Singaporeans can only see the weaknesses. These areas include health, public transport and education. Here are some books taking a balanced and objective look at various aspects of our education system and its evolution over the years.

  • Many Pathways One Mission: Fifty Years Of Singapore Education. Edited by Lim Lai Cheng. This study of the 50 years of Singapore education since 1957 is in an innovative format. Detachable facsimiles of certificates, letters and other archival material, actual postage stamps and the report cards of well-known persons are included in the extensively illustrated volume. Lively, illustrated vignettes and memories of the personalities and achievement of individual teachers and others who have played essential parts in the ups and downs of Singapore education convey the realities of its history.
  • Mathematics Education: The Singapore Journey. Edited by Wong Khoon Yoong and Lee Peng Yee. This comprehensive book is a review of research and practices of mathematics education in Singapore. It traces the fascinating journey from the original development of the Singapore mathematics curriculum in the 1950s to the present day, and reports on diverse findings about the Singapore experience that are not readily available in print.
  • Examinations In Singapore: Change And Continuity (1891-2007) by Tan Yap Kwang, Chow Hong Kheng and Christine Goh. This is a groundbreaking historical account of the examination systems used in Singapore schools since 1891 when a Centre for the Cambridge Local Examinations was set up. The chapter on the 1891-1945 period includes information on exams used by the occupying Japanese and also the Cambridge Local exams which, surprisingly, took place in the Sime Road Internment Camp. The account of the changing period 1946-1970s includes discussion of the 1961 examination boycott. In the last section, the substantial policy shifts, the Goh Keng Swee Reforms, are summarised and their impact assessed.
  • For A Better Age: Musings Of A Teacher by Eugene Wijeysingha. Eugene Wijeysingha has spent 35 years in education, including an 8-year spell as Principal of Raffles Institution. To mark the occasion of the school's 185th year, he has written a memoir of his experiences as a teacher, mostly focused on his years in that venerable institution. He shares his thoughts on what education is, what lessons were learned along the way, turning Raffles Institution into an independent school, developing a suitable educational programme and safeguarding the status of teachers.
  • Shaping Singapore's Future: Thinking Schools, Learning Nation. Edited by Tan, Jason and Ng Pak Tee. The vision of Thinking Schools, Learning Nation (TSLN) was launched in 1997 by the Singapore Ministry of Education in an effort to develop a total learning environment in the country and to revolutionise teaching and learning in all schools. The various chapters in this book examine different aspect of TSLN, such as ability-driven education, innovation and enterprise, and national education. They also discuss issues concerning school-stakeholder partnerships, teacher education, and teachers' lives amid a period of rapid education reform.

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