“Being Rooted, Living Global”: Citizenship and Education in the Singapore City-State
Singapore was first described as a “global city” in 1972 and remains highly-ranked today according to various globalization indices, such as openness to international trade (S.T. [The Straits Times], Singapore jumps two spots to rank sixth in Global Cities index. The Straits Times. Retrieved from http://www.straitstimes.com/business/singapore-jumps-two-spots-to-rank-sixth-in-global-cities-index. Accessed 11 May 2018, 2017). Citizenship education in Singapore partly reflects this global orientation; for instance, preparing its future workforce for the “global knowledge economy” is a key objective of citizenship education in Singapore. Yet, seemingly paradoxically, an orientation towards national interests and the development of national identity is strongly reflected in citizenship education. Politically, Singapore is described as a “strong,” developmental state that exercises ideological leadership over society, including the education domain (Lim, J Educ Policy 31(6):711–726, 2016; Gopinathan, Glob Soc Educ 5(1): 53–70, 2007; Gopinathan, Are we all global citizens now? Reflections on citizenship and citizenship education in a Globalising world (with special reference to Singapore). Hong Kong: Centre for Governance and Citizenship/The Hong Kong Institute of Education, 2012).
This chapter synthesizes literature on how the Singapore state is managing globalizing forces, in and through citizenship education. First, we provide a historical perspective on this question. Second, we identify and discuss four ongoing challenges attributed in literature to globalization and globalizing conditions, in the state’s project to develop ideal citizens: (1) developing national identity and rootedness, (2) balancing autonomy and control in teaching and learning citizenship, (3) fostering deep, genuine critical thinking in a system with performative and instrumentalist orientations, and (4) building social cohesion amidst growing inequality. Finally, we draw on literature to develop recommendations on ways to develop forms of citizenship education that are more responsive to current sociopolitical realities.
KeywordsSingapore Globalization Citizenship education Global knowledge economy Social cohesion
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