Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

An Investigation of Educational Success in Neighboring Countries: Singapore

Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

An Investigation of Educational Success in Neighboring Countries: Singapore

Article excerpt


Singaporean educational system has paid due attention to the quality of its English Language Teaching (ELT) field in recent years. This amount of attention to education and ELT in particular has not been fruitless and we have observed the continuous prosperity in Singaporean educational system. This flourishing system owes its victory to the quality of the teachers and teacher training centers, the future job security, early teaching of the second languages, etc. Firstly, this paper investigates the Singaporean educational system through a detailed discussion of its primary and secondary education. Then teachers' preparation, requirements, standards, and qualifications are put to discussion. Later, Singaporean TOEFL scores in the region between years 1991 and 2006 are compared and contrasted. After reviewing the syllabus of Singapore's educational system, possible success factors are suggested and discussed. These factors have certain implications for Iranian officials and authorities in the ministry of education and educational systems.

Key words: Singaporean educational system, primary education, secondary education, ministry of education

1. Introduction

Education has always played a key role as competitive strength and a necessity for the economic growth and social viability of Singapore as a nation since self-government in 1959 (Ingersoll, 2008). In a process of continual development and ongoing improvement, education policies and practices have been reviewed and refined through the years. Since the mid 1990s, the world has been constantly changing around us and this fact has challenged the Ministry of Education (MOE) to make fundamental paradigm shifts in the strategic direction of the education system so that it is geared to meet the needs of Singapore in the 21stcentury (Gopinathan, 1999; Sharpe & Gopinathan, 2002).

First, globalization is rapidly recasting the economic landscape and redefining the international workplace in which nations have to operate. Second, technological change is proceeding at a rapid pace, resulting in changes in the ways individuals live and work

Third, intellectual capital increasingly will become the basis for competitive advantage among companies and nations. Therefore, education in Singapore must equip successive generations to thrive in an intensely competitive global marketplace, to imbue them with moral attitudes, enterprising and innovative mind sets, and to ensure they are technologically savvy, flexible and willing to continually learn and upgrade their skills.

To succeed in this endeavor, Singapore will be dependent on a highquality teaching workforce with the values, instincts, life skills and competencies on which we entrust them with the heavy responsibilities of molding the lives of the young people.

As in other Asian nations, teachers generally are well respected in Singapore society, and the MOE has been actively calling for the public and parents to give respect, appreciation, and regard to the profession (Goh & Chang, 2002; Lee, 1996, 2006; Shanmugaratnam, 2004; Teo, 1998). The MOE also is cognizant of the important role teachers' play in educating new generations to break new ground and chart new directions for Singapore. Since embarking on the "Thinking School, Learning Nation" vision in 1997 (Goh, 1997), the MOE has regarded teachers as central to this whole change process and as exemplary role models in seeking out new ideas, learning and practices, and continuously innovating and refreshing their own knowledge (Shanmugaratnam, 2004).

The MOE' s goal of building up a qualified teaching force is achieved through a process of careful and detailed planning, aggressive teacher recruitment, comprehensive training and effective teacher retention.

Quality is as important as numbers; nevertheless, numbers do count. With better recruitment comes the opportunity to make an investment in the future by adding more qualified teachers to every school. …

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