If reports of Singapore’s academic supremacy have taken you by surprise then you perhaps are not the only one to have reacted. The world at large is presently finding it a bit difficult to comprehend the reason behind such claims in the wake of the country’s continued struggle against sluggish economic growth and unemployment.
Singapore is Saddled by Poor Economic Growth: Can Education Help?
Last year, Singapore witnessed its lowest GDP growth and highest rate of unemployment since the global financial meltdown. Quite fascinatingly – however- these are the reasons why Singapore has been able to work on its renewed focus on educational growth. Countries like Britain, India, Australia and Indonesia have repeatedly stressed on the need for focusing on modified education systems geared to serve economic and social imperatives more effectively. Their declarations however have not really been implemented into reality.
How Singapore is Taking Concrete Steps to Battle the Essentially “Sordid” State of Affairs
Singapore – as Andrew MacIntyre observes – is however, a “fascinating exception”. The government has realized that only educational reform can help them battle their current woes in the form of abysmal economic growth and continued demographic decline. They have understood that simply allowing more foreign labor will not really help their electoral ambitions anymore because of the strong opposition to immigration.
It was only in the month of March that Committee on the Future Economy (the top task force) outlined a string of strategies that included the educational policy. Notably these strategies were meant to reshape the economy of the country.
Singapore has always been known for investing heavily on elite universities. However, the present educational reform seeks to put the focus on skills training and applied education. This according MacIntyre is the most remarkable aspect of the educational reform.
In this regard mention must be made about SkillsFuture Singapore. It has been set up with the sole aim of guiding people of all ages at different phases of their career. While skill programs and targeted education are in focus, there are relentless efforts to align these attributes with the demands of economic growth.
Education in Singapore: How the Country is Shifting Focus
Polytechnics and applied universities – for instance – have been bestowed with a major boost. If all this while the country was more concerned about academic distinction, the new reform calls for improved focus on work-oriented learning and constant re-skilling.
In most of the countries out there, the elite universities have implicitly been opposed to the idea of pursuing education primarily for employment. Singapore however has shunned this concept in its entirety. It does continue to provide brilliant avenues to higher study nonetheless.
If you are talking about education policy innovation then Singapore has clearly taken a leading role – demonstrating a remarkable resolve to stand by its efforts to reshape educational policies in a major way.
Needless to say, it’s heartening to see one country which is taking such meaningful strides in the field of education. We only hope that other countries are similarly stirred to action as well.