Parental responses to education reform in Singapore, Shanghai and Hong Kong

  • Charlene TanEmail author


This article analyses and compares the responses of parents to education policy initiatives in Singapore, Shanghai and Hong Kong. The education reform in three localities converges on changing an exam-centric culture and equipping students to thrive in a globalised world. Through a discussion of three representative policy initiatives—Direct School Admission in Singapore, extended and inquiry/research curricula in Shanghai and Liberal Studies in Hong Kong—this article contends that the parents variously make sense of, negotiate, support and circumvent the policy initiatives. Their strategies, it is argued, are grounded in and shaped by their shared habitus, manifesting the four processes identified by Zhao, Selman and Luke (Bourdieu and Chinese education: Inequality, competition, and change, Routledge, Oxon, 2018) for understanding the formation of habitus. A major implication arising from the study is the usefulness of the concept of habitus in illuminating the educational expectations and proposed actions of parents when confronted with educational changes.


Education reform Habitus Hong Kong Shanghai Singapore 


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Copyright information

© Education Research Institute, Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Policy and Leadership StudiesNational Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological UniversitySingaporeSingapore

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