Paper delivered at the Development in Education in Asia Research Seminars 2022, Centre for Research in Education in Asia, University of Bath - 19th January 2022
Dr Charleen Chiong, Senior Research Officer at the Department of Education & Training, Victor State, Australia
Singapore is a ‘strong’ developmental state that exercises ideological leadership over economy and society, and offers widespread, highly subsidised provision of public services, including education. Paradoxically, however, while such logics invite dependence on the ‘strong’ state, at the heart of Singaporean public policy is the anti-welfarist, self-responsibilising, meritocratic ethos.
In her new book, Families, the State and Educational Inequality in the Singapore City-State, Charleen Chiong explores how socio-economically disadvantaged families negotiate relations of dependency and responsibility with the state and schools, in seeking future success. Through analysing in-depth interviews, this talk demonstrates how families’ perspectives can provide crucial insight in understanding how policy is ‘lived’ and experienced, and its effects on families’ lives. In view of widening socio-economic and educational inequalities in Singapore, implications for equity and the state-citizen compact are discussed – implications that may be relevant to contexts beyond Singapore.