On the 16th of January, APU welcomed a special guest – Prof. S. Gopinathan – to deliver a lecture entitled, ‘Education and the Nation State’.
Starting with a brief introduction of Singapore, a highly developed island country in the Asia Pacific Region with a per capita GDP, education and technology development rank all on the top tier worldwide, Prof Gopinathan then further elaborated on the history and development of Singapore’s education systems. As a former British colony, Singapore is well-populated by various ethnic groups such as Chinese (75%), Malays (14%), Indians and others. The government in the 1940s was courageous enough to establish multi-lingual, English-oriented education systems, which have greatly contributed to the “national brand” of Singapore today. Does the political system of a strong and steady government play a role? The answer is yes. However, it’s really their education system that has made a profound difference. Prof. Gopinathan noted that there is no single ‘magic bullet’ for all countries to use for replicating the Singapore model, despite the single grand question of numerous visitors: “How did you do it?” Nevertheless, Singapore’s experiences and expertise do offer valuable inputs and references for other Asian countries.
Due to a time limit of Q&A, a limited number of high-quality questions was asked by the audience, mainly from graduate students. These questions covered a wide range of topics such as the immigration of the labor force in Singapore, the role and effects played by a strong government in the education system, challenges faced during the implementation of multi-lingual systems, and the governmental mechanism of human capital employment in Singapore, among others. This lecture concluded with a big round of applause.
Written by (Edison) Xiaolong ZOU, PhD Student, GASD