The “New” Multiculturalism: National and Educational Perspectives, pp. 7 of 11

The Minister of Education’s exhortation on Racial Harmony in July 2014 can be considered to be part of this evolving and pragmatic approach to the complexity of diversity.

The role of national education in moulding and embedding these emerging national values continues in this new climate but the message can still be hindered by previously mentioned penchants for form over substance, the persistence of structural challenges and self-perpetuating weaknesses to core policies (Chua & Kwok 2001, p. 87). The constant challenge would be how to respond to these challenges within the integrated political-social system. Aspirations for a “strategic cosmopolitan” sensibility need to consider an education environment that supports an “active, political participant” (Mitchell, 2003, pp. 387-388). As a sovereign state, Singapore has and will manage its society on its own terms but one that subscribes to a delicate balancing act of sustaining its national survival within the larger social, political and economic global forces that lie beyond its control. To retain selected Singapore traits amidst the changeability and innumerable global influences, the national education narrative must expand its continual vigilance by preparing its younger generation for a multicultural global future that engenders a respectful and critical engagement with the “other” (see Ho, 2009; Poon, 2009). Continuing predominantly with a “diversity-lite” approach to differences will no longer suffice.

…dengan semangat yang baru (In a new spirit)[vi]

In this current global “age of insecurity” (Elliot & Atkinson, 1998; Judt, 2010), the prognosis is not necessarily doom and gloom. There are attending opportunities to these challenges. If the entire Singapore Story narrative is one of internal and external threats, of triumph over adversity, it is also one of resilience from both the authoritative powers and the local populace. Noticeably since the last general election of 2011, the “hard resilience” of the governing authority since 1965 has been complemented by the “soft resilience” of its citizens who are increasingly anxious with the current transformational changes that include rapid migration and growing economic inequities. The “prosperity consensus” borne out of the uncertainty of 1965 is currently being renegotiated through multiple avenues such as “national conversations” sessions, community engagement programmes including non-governmental groups and a slew of new government policies that could be deemed to be more empathetic of ordinary Singaporeans (Ismail & Shaw, 2011). Sensationally described as an “Orchid Revolution” (Arharya, 2011), this floral descriptor of the 2011 election result is an unfair exaggeration of an inherently positive transformational force of governance evident since 1965. Essentially, the phenomenon is a negotiation in the process of resilience and possibly a typically Singaporean outcome. While some might question the viability of this current pace and face of change, it must be noted (SIIA, 2014) that…

An Inspiring Quote

"[Open-mindedness] includes an active desire to listen to more sides than one; to give heed to facts from whatever source they come; to give full attention to alternative possibilities; to recognize the possibility of error even in the beliefs that are dearest to us."

~ John Dewey, How We Think

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