Is It Time to Let Meritocracy Go?: Examining the Case of Singapore

OverviewMaking sense of Singapore’s education policiesHistory of Singapore’s education system and the Goh reportParallel media and official discourse on the 1979 MOE reportOutcomes and critiques of the streaming policy: a moral political problemData-driven analysisResearch trajectorySignificance of the research and its contribution to the fieldOrganisation of the monographSummaryNotesCreating the conditions for division and structural inequality: The human being as a historical constructOverviewThe 1979 Ministry of Education report (Goh Report)Archaeological method: how power is constituted through knowledge and ‘truth’Analysing the 1979 MOE report: designing a multidisciplinary CDA to explicate the truth-value of statementsTheme 1: capability recognition as social changeThe ‘failures’How the identity of failures is sustainedTheme 2: inequality as justiceEgalitarian-excellence educational philosophiesSupport of school leaders for a differentiated systemTheme 3: ethics: or philosophy of desirabilityMetaphorical transfer from one domain to anotherThe affordances of constructed identities in policy discourseResearch findings and implicationsThe next stage of the researchTracing discursive pathways and the theme of ‘ethics: or philosophy of desirability’NotesUsing genealogy and ethics to investigate the conditioning of human beings into moral subjects who desire morOverviewGenealogical methodData-driven analysis as the basis of genealogical methodContext-dependence as a form of unexamined conditioningAnalysing the genealogy of truth by tracing a movable host of metaphorsOn the genealogy of ethics and truthThe desiring-desirable subject, hyperrealist structures, and schemas of valuation as elements of ethical relations within the ‘games of truth’Movements of valuations determine moral codes for the desired and desiring subjectDreams, philosophical realism, and valuationSchemas of valuation in policy discourseEthics, schemas of valuation, and the value system of meritocracy as conceptualised through data analysisAnalysing MOE policies from 1979 to 2019The relationship between the objectification of learners, valuation, and political economiesExamining the phenomenon of evalnative propagationMethods for analysing e/valuationsSummaryNotesMicro-meso-macro movements: A multi-level critical discourse analysis framework to examine the value of truthOverviewPrinciples of truth and valuation in Foucault, Nietzsche, and CDA: policy texts as games of truthWhat is ‘truth’?Values and neo-liberalismPolitical economy as a complex system of valuesNeo-liberalism as a system of principles of valuation and evaluationExamining valuation as power: micro-meso-macro movementsAssembling a skeletal framework: on the primacy of movement and undivided wholenessMicro-meso-macroMining the esoteric depths: a CDA of thematic metaphorical flow in the meso-macro movementPower as ‘movements’POWER AND SUBJECTIFICATIONCIRCULAR MOVEMENTS WITHIN ANALYTICAL FRAMEWORKMETAPHORS AS FLUID MOVEMENTSMETAPHORICAL SUPERFLUIDITYSummaryNotesTheme 1: Metaphorical realismOverviewFlexible curriculum for different categories of pupilsMicro-meso movement: genesis of a ‘flexible’ curriculumMeso-macro movement: moving towards social-economic discourseFlexible system for VITB traineesDiscourses of opportunity and choiceSub micro-meso movement: opportunity and choice for VITB students in relation to manpower demandsSub meso-macro movement: transitioning towards creating opportunities for junior college/upper secondary/university studentsDiscourses of opportunity and skillsSub micro-meso movement: skills for better opportunitiesSub meso-macro movement: expansion of skills for opportunities and developing the ability of the brightest childrenTwo sub-movementsDiverse pathways for talentsMicro-meso movement: contractual-ethical discourse for talent investmentClaiming shared valuesThe hegemonic role of ‘we’ in a neo-liberal context: inclusion and shared responsibilities for the benefit of ‘all’Enterprise culture and the transvaluation of the macro value of competitivenessMeso-macro movement: moving towards nurturing talent through diversity, opportunity, and choice for the future economySummaryNotesTheme 2: De/regulationOverviewTransformation of a ‘single-curriculum’ to a ‘flexible’ education systemMicro-meso movement: flexibility to tailor to pupils’ needsMeso-macro movement: moving through value and devaluation of flexible and centralised systemsFlexibility as a condition for creativityMicro-meso movement: decentralisation for creativityMeso-macro movement: moving towards enhancing the creativity of junior college studentsFlexibility' to group pupils and decentralising state responsibilitiesMicro-meso movement: flexibility for educatorsMeso-macro movement: moving towards flexibility to raise performanceSummaryNoteTheme 3: Political economies of surrealismOverviewPolicies of surrealism in time and space in policy textsPolitical economies of surrealism and the recourse to make-believeEmergent discourses of an ‘innovation-driven’ futureMicro-meso movement: flexibility for an innovation-driven growthLevel 1. Meso-macro movement: flexibility, diversity, choice, and opportunities to meet the demands of an innovation-driven futureLevel 2. Meso-macro movement: ‘enabling’ as a strategy of persuasionOvercoming the skills divide: from problem of unemployment to vision plan‘Enabling’ model of governanceThe discourse of skills as opportunitiesTransitioning of economies and competitionMicro-meso movement: ability-driven system for innovation economyMeso-macro movement: drawing on abstract actors and nominalisations as agents of the global economy to legitimise structural changes for talentsThe cascade of change and the logic of appearancesCompetition between nationsDiverse pathways to meet the needs of ‘our’ people in the futureMicro-meso movement: diverse pathways in the universityMeso-macro movement: moving towards diversity for talents to meet the demands of irrealis economiesSummaryNotesInequality as meritocracyOverviewOn the specific aims of the researchOn the twin theoretical-methodological objectives of the researchExpanding the boundaries: rupturing the stability of established frameworksMetaphors and neo-liberalismPower-knowledge-truth: the subject and powerThe use of philosophy in policyOn the essence of truthEvaluating the philosophical-analytical modelMethodological assumptionsImplications of the researchThe problem is with the prescriptive modelHow the surrealist movement shaped the course of political economy and our livesGovernment as a kind of civil service for corporations?Become seekers of truth rather than believers: the need to overcome the conditioning of beliefWhat is the moral purpose of education?Spearheading a world-class education systemIs it time to equalise conditions across schools?NotesPolicy reports and speechesCurriculum Development in Singapore. A Brief Review 1979Towards Excellence in Schools, 1987Improving Primary School Education: Report of the Review Committee, 1991Upgrading Vocational Training (Vocational and Industrial Training Board, 1991)Report of the Junior College/Uppcr Secondary Education Review Committee, 2002Report of the Polytechnic-School Review Committee, 2006Speech, ‘The next phase in education: Innovation and enterprise’, 2003Speech, ‘More support for school-based initiatives’, 2006Report of the Committee on the Expansion of the University Sector: Greater Choice, More Room to Excel: Final Report, 2008Report of the Committee on University Education Pathways Beyond 2015 (CUEP). Greater Diversity, More Opportunities, 2012Speech by Minister for Education Ong Ye Kung, at the Raffles Institution Founder’s Day, 2019Speech, ‘Working with low-income families through the life course: Challenges to social services’, 2019
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