Singapore’s education system is among the best infrastructures in the world due to its quality of graduates, as well as the nature of knowledge-driven economic progression. Being one of the British colonies, Singapore began as a low-skill, low-cost labor market that now boasts of a workforce where more than 50% of all workers are university graduates. High literacy rates and international scores have made professionals from Singapore among the best in the world with trickle effect in the education system. The issue of focusing on education is notable even in the mainstream environments of the country where advertisements about tutoring classes and availability of extra classes are provided to improve learner outcomes.
Such dynamics in the education system are the ones probing the necessity of rethinking Singaporean higher education in terms of the transformation of academics. Understanding and providing relevant answers to this question is predicated on examining the current education system, as well as its key features that characterize its functions. According to OECD (161), the goal is to provide optimal skills and expertise to people since education is central to driving economic growth. Therefore, the ability to supply the required education skills is the major source of competitive advantage hence the trend where academics are increasingly being converted to administrators in order to provide their expertise in the constantly shifting working environment.
Understanding the case of Singapore higher education begins from its structural evolution in the quest to make the country a learning nation. Over the decades, the system has undergone differentiated phases in terms of enhancing efficiency, learner outcomes, and abilities among learners. Currently, the structure is based on instituting mechanisms that rebalance skills, content, and character developments in order to achieve a more holistic education. This has been a key feature in higher education where curriculums have been developed to emphasize on values, ethics, morals, and engagement of learners in different paradigms. These factors are constantly shifting academicians’ way of thinking to transform them into administrators particularly when providing human capital in various capacities.
In addition to the philosophy governing the basic functioning of the education system, another key element to consider is structural segmentation. Today, the system is stratified to have six years primary education, four years of secondary education, followed by college, university, or attendance into technical school whose timeframe depends on nature of specialization. These levels have particular subjects of study relevant to education system requirements sometimes causing the perception of overload on students. Despite this fact, graduates have managed to be the best not only within the country but also in other global labor market segments.
The current education system has been closely integrated with modern workplace requirements creating academicians who are ready to take additional roles even as administrators. Universities, colleges, and technical institutions have established feedback mechanisms with industry players to ensure that they supply the right mix of skills requisite for economic progression. This is the rationale for having more than 50% of all workforce being university graduates because they have sufficient, relevant, and academic skills to fit into the respective industry settings. Such structural organization determines the nature of human capital in higher education relative to preferential working behaviors of academicians.
Professional standards and career management are other key features constantly shaping human capital in higher education relative to its constituent academicians. For one to gain selection into teaching position, for instance, candidates must illustrate high grades in national examination, proficiency on entrance exams, and pass elaborate interview processes meant to examine their commitment, values, and willingness to become good role models for their students. Having this procedural application means that high-performing students are selected causing the need to rethink about selection, description, and engagement of human capital. In fact, those getting into teaching profession in higher education have equivalent qualifications of high civil sector job hence the question whether the system is transforming academicians to administrators.
Another key feature of the Singapore education system is the deep support it offers to practitioners in terms of curriculum content, cultural diversity, and inter-professional relations between professors, teachers, administrators, and other staff at school level. The extra support has made teachers be committed as compared to American situation where student goal may not be of concern to teachers. If students are not successful, teachers take on the role of administrators to define situational conditions and develop strategies that redefine teaching methods, planning, supervision, and other activities essential for student success.
The education system in Singapore has been blamed for some time that it is overworking students causing elevated stress levels in their respective learning processes. The ability to adapt to situational conditions and develop new practices is the key feature defining the evolution of Singaporean education system according to prevalent needs. As of 2012, listing of top scoring students nationally was stopped, high emphasis of exam was reduced, extra-curricular activities were encouraged, and mechanisms that eliminate the notion of everything being about academia were instituted. The country has been able to create a more balanced education system accommodating academic, health, physical, and mental wellbeing of students (Wong 54).
The instructional regime, in general, is coherent, pragmatic, and adopts wide-ranging pedagogical traditions of both western and eastern worlds. Teaching relies on mastery of specific procedures and ability to represent information articulately through written forms and discussion sessions. This education system has been successful over the years since it is the product of distinctive and unique institutional influences combined with cultural constructs. In the end, the system has produced a highly educated workforce and human capital that demands reshaping in order to move with current dynamisms.
Having strong sense of professionalism has further given additional opportunities to academicians for them to exploit according to their levels of interest. The whole system has become self-reinforcing through evaluations, self-correction mechanisms, and allocation of responsibilities with the aim of improving professional prowess. It is the same level of professionalism being applied on current teaching regime where knowledge is propagated using effective techniques that match economic requirements, institutional objectives, cultural constructs, and student needs to maximize their learning outcomes (Sclafani and Lim 7).
Comparing the case of Singapore to other nations indicates how strategic use of resources defines the kind of human capital available in particular national economies. One notable key feature is that Singapore uses fees, tuition, and stipends that encourage professional performance in dynamic working environments. Additional management aspects like promotions, bonuses, and other techniques to improve morale, career development, and continuous development. Highly professional and motivated academicians are the basis of their conversion to administrators hence the need to rethink the kind of human capital existing in Singapore.
In summary, Singapore has created powerful set of academic institutional arrangements shaping the kind of human capital and labor market provisions. The education system in Singapore is centralized, integrated, coherent, well-funded, and relatively flexible to situational dynamics. The whole system has been characterized by notable key features accommodating student needs, workforce needs, professional standards, and academic progression. Based on the current systemic operations relative to education system, it is therefore important to rethink human capital in Singapore education in terms of preferential trajectories taken by academicians in their respective capacities within their institutions as governed by workplace settings.
- OECD . “Singapore: Rapid Improvement Followed by Strong Performance.” What Students Know and Can Do: Student Performance in Reading, Mathematics, and Science. New York: OECD Publishing, 2010. Print.
- Sclafani, Susan and Edmund Lim. Rethinking Human Capital in Education: Singapore As A Model for Teacher Development. Singapore: The Aspen Institute Education and Society Program, 2008. Print.
- Wong, Soon Teck. Singapore’s New Education System: Education Reform for National Development. New York: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2014. Print.