The 'Global Schoolhouse': A cautious confluence of privatisation and internationalisation policies in Singaporean education

Year: 2007

Author: Vidovich, Lesley, Yap, Meen Sheng

Type of paper: Refereed paper

From independence in 1965, the Singaporean government invested heavily in education, and maintained tight centralized control to develop its human capital. However, the late 1980s saw first steps towards enhanced school autonomy and limited privatization, and then in the early 2000s a cautious confluence of privatisation and internationalization were embedded in a broader economic goal to turn Singapore into a ‘Global Schoolhouse’ which would offer quality education services to the world. International full-fee customers would be attracted to Singapore and concurrently the outflow of local students purchasing education in other countries would be slowed because the government would allow them to choose to enroll in Singapore-based international schools for the first time.

Two new privately-funded, international schools opened in Singapore in 2005 and although restricted in scale, the policy shift was symbolically significant. The government does not directly fund these new schools, but they must comply with key national education policies, reflecting both deregulatory and regulatory trends, with all of the inherent tensions. Thus, in its goal of creating a ‘Global Schoolhouse’ the Singaporean Government is actively navigating both local and global education markets simultaneously, as this paper explores in more detail.