Jan 22, 2014

RCAPS Seminar: Prof. S. Gopinathan (National University of Singapore)

On the 16th of January, APU welcomed a special guest – Prof. S. Gopinathan – to deliver a lecture entitled, ‘Education and the Nation State’.

The speaker was invited by Prof. Mani (APU), and the event was moderated by Prof. Porter (Vice President, APU). Professor Gopinathan is a renowned professional in the education field. He served as Dean of several esteemed schools in higher education institutes and is the author of 100 plus publications, which have offered key references to policy and practice in Singapore education.

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


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