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Racialised Education in Singapore


The Singapore education system plays a central role in the mythology of the young country’s nation building project. The education system is portrayed as the cradle of Singapore’s multiracialism, fostering racial harmony and understanding. Yet this historical study of primary school English textbooks from the 1970s to the present reveals that since the beginning of the 1980s they have been systemically designed in such a way that they evoke high levels of racial consciousness, and at their worst have displayed a pro-Chinese bias that has deprived non-Chinese children of inspiring role models. This study helps to explain the results of recent sociological research that has cast doubt on the effectiveness of the Singapore education system as an instrument for promoting racial harmony.

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Textbooks Cited

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Correspondence to Michael D. Barr.

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Barr, M.D. Racialised Education in Singapore. Educ Res Policy Prac 5, 15–31 (2006).

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  • English textbooks
  • ethnicity
  • multiracialism
  • pedagogy
  • primary school
  • race
  • racism
  • Singapore
  • stereotyping
  • teaching English