Citizenship education and nation building – the Singapore case

S. Martin , Anwei Feng

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedingBook Chapterpeer-review


People in many parts of the world perceive Singapore and its people very differently (Lee, 2001; Kwok, 2001). To those with little geographical knowledge, Singapore may be imagined as a small part of China. To many, the country is simply a tiny dot at the tip of the Asian mainland, a nation struggling for its very survival. Those who have seen or studied the country tend to describe it as a small city-state with no natural resources but one which enjoys a strategic position, a superb infrastructure, a strong economy and a powerful government. The three major ethnic groups, Chinese, Malay and Indian, are thought to communicate well and to live harmoniously on the small island. The country is often characterised as an ideal multicultural home for all Singaporeans - even as a small utopia. Some critics, however, draw an analogy between Singapore and an orderly corporation under the efficient and skin-tight control of an authoritarian management structure. It appears that some of these perceptions find expression as part of the Singaporean identity and are influential in conceptualising Singaporean citizenship and formulating national educational policy. It is these perceptions, in part, that are believed by many to have inspired its leaders to turn the island-city-state into a strong state (Gopinathan, 1997).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEducation for Intercultural Citizenship: Concepts and Comparisons
Editors Geof Alred , Mike Byram, Mike Fleming
Place of PublicationClevedon
PublisherMultilingual Matters
ISBN (Print)9781853599194
Publication statusPublished - 2006

Publication series

NameLanguages for intercultural communication and education


  • Citizenship
  • Multicultural education
  • Cross-cultural studies


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