Advertisement

Centralised-Decentralisation in Singapore Education Policymaking

  • Paul Meng-Huat Chua
  • Yancy Toh
  • Sujin He
  • Azilawati Jamaludin
  • David Hung
Chapter
Part of the Education Innovation Series book series (EDIN)

Abstract

Centralised-decentralisation refers to the calibrated application of the forces of centring and calibrated release of the force of centring (resulting in decentring) in order to achieve coherence and optimal results and outcomes for a system. While the phenomenon of centralised-decentralisation is not unique to the Singapore education system, the fact that it is deployed pervasively across all policy contexts and that it recurs in the various levels of the education system (from the Ministry down to the teacher level) might make the phenomenon of centralised-decentralisation—from the perspective of implementation—uniquely Singaporean. This empirical paper, with data collected via interviews from a range of respondents (i.e. policy academics, school leaders, and middle managers), provides, amongst other things, evidence of the fractal nature of centralised-decentralisation, which speaks of the ingrained disposition of this habitual thinking in the daily policy and life of schools. Efforts have been made to ensure the trustworthiness of the findings arising from the research. Other findings of the research include the differentiated nature of centralised-decentralisation, the pragmatic motivation of the notion of centralised-decentralisation, and the need for calibrated trust between the Ministry and schools for the maintenance of the delicate balance between centralisation and decentralisation.

References

  1. Bourdieu, P. (1977). Outline of a theory of practice. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bourdieu, P. (1990). The logic of practice. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Brown, D. J. (1990). Decentralisation and school-based management. London, UK: Falmer Press.Google Scholar
  4. Bryman, A., Stephens, M., & Campo, C. (1996). The importance of context: Qualitative research and the study of leadership. The Leadership Quarterly, 7(3), 353–370.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bullock, A., & Thomas, H. (1997). Schools at the centre? London, UK: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Caldwell, B. (2015). An evidence based on the effect of school autonomy on student achievement: Australian studies. Manuscript submitted for publication.Google Scholar
  7. Caldwell, B. J., & Spinks, J. M. (1988). The self-managing school. London, UK: Falmer Press.Google Scholar
  8. Chua, P. M. H., Hatch, T., & Faughey, D. (2014, March 25). Centralized–decentralization emerging in Singapore [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://internationalednews.com/2014/03/25/centralized-decentralization-emerging-in-singapore/
  9. Chua, P. M. H., Toh, Y., Jamaludin, A., He, S. J., & Hung, D. (2016, April). Structure and agency in effective schools governance: The inter-play of centralisation and decentralisation at work. Paper presented at the World Educational Research Association Focal Meeting, Washington, DC, USA.Google Scholar
  10. Conger, J. A. (1998). Qualitative research as the cornerstone methodology for understanding leadership. The Leadership Quarterly, 9(1), 107–121.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Corbin, J., & Strauss, A. (2008). Basics of Qualitative Research. London, UK: Sage.Google Scholar
  12. Department for Education, United Kingdom. (1991). The parents’ charter: You and your child’s education. London, UK: Department for Education.Google Scholar
  13. Evans, L. (2008). Professionalism, professionality and the development of education professionals. British Journal of Educational Studies, 56(1), 20–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Fairbank, J. K., & Goldman, M. (2006). China: A new history. Harvard, MA: Harvard University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Geertz, C. (1973). The interpretation of cultures. New York, NY: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  16. Goodlad, J. I. (1984). A place called school. prospects for the future. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  17. Gopinathan, S., & Deng, Z. (2006). Fostering school-based curriculum development in the context of new educational initiatives in Singapore. Planning and Changing, 37(1/2), 93.Google Scholar
  18. Hanson, E. M. (2006). Strategies of educational decentralisation: Key questions and core issues. In C. Bjork (Ed.), Educational decentralisation: Asian experiences and conceptual contributions (pp. 9–26). Dordrecht, Netherlands: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hargreaves, A. (2000). Four ages of professionalism and professional learning. Teachers and teaching: Theory and practice, 6(2), 151–182.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hargreaves, A., & Goodson, I. (1996). Teachers’ professional lives: aspirations and actualities. In I. Goodson & A. Hargreaves (Eds.), Teachers’ professional lives (pp. 1–27). London, UK: Falmer.Google Scholar
  21. Hung, D., & Chua, P. M. H. (2015, April). Diffusion models in Singapore schools: Dialectics of centralisation and decentralisation. Paper presented at the American Educational Research Conference Annual Meeting 2015, Chicago, USA.Google Scholar
  22. Hutchinson, J. E. (1981). Fractals and self-similarity. Indiana University Mathematics Journal, 30, 713–747.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Lincoln, Y. S., & Guba, E. G. (1985). Naturalistic inquiry. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Mahbubani, K. (2013). Studying public policy in Singapore. Retrieved from NUS’ website: https://lkyspp.nus.edu.sg/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/study-public-policy-in-singapore.pdf
  25. Ministry of Education, Singapore. (2005). Greater support for teachers and school leaders. Retrieved from https://www.moe.gov.sg/media/press/2005/pr20050922b.htm
  26. Ministry of Education, Singapore. (2008). International educational leaders’ dialogue: Third conference – Gearing up for 2015. Singapore: Ministry of Education.Google Scholar
  27. Ministry of Education, Singapore (2014). Forum letter replies: Pupil-Teacher Ratio (PTR) differs from class size. Retrieved from: https://www.moe.gov.sg/news/forum-letter-replies/pupil-teacher-ratio-ptr-differs-from-class-size
  28. Ministry of Education, Singapore. (2016a). Direct admissions. Retrieved from https://www.moe.gov.sg/admissions/direct-admissions
  29. Ministry of Education, Singapore. (2016b). Mission of the Singapore Academy of Teachers. Retrieved from http://www.academyofsingaporeteachers.moe.gov.sg/about-ast/our-mission-and-vision
  30. Mintzberg, H. (1979). The structuring of organisations: A synthesis of the research. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  31. Neo, B. S., & Chen, G. (2007). Dynamic governance: Embedding culture, capabilities and change in Singapore. Singapore: World Scientific.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Ng, P. T. (2003). The Singapore school and the school excellence model. Educational Research for Policy and Practice, 2(1), 27–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Ng, P. T. (2005). Students’ perception of change in the Singapore education system. Educational Research for Policy and Practice, 3(1), 77–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Ng, P. T. (2010). The evolution and nature of school accountability in the Singapore education system. Educational Assessment, Evaluation and Accountability, 22(4), 275–292.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Ng, P. T., & Chan, D. (2008). A comparative study of Singapore’s school excellence model with Hong Kong’s school-based management. International Journal of Educational Management, 22(6), 488–505.Google Scholar
  36. Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. (2011). School autonomy and accountability: Are they related to student performance? Retrieved from http://www.oecd.org/pisa/pisaproducts/pisainfocus/48910490.pdf
  37. Patrinos, H. A., & Fasih, T. (2009). Decentralised decision-making in schools: The theory and evidence on school-based management. Washington, DC: World Bank Publications.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Schön, D. A. (1983). The reflective practitioner: How professionals think in action. New York, NY: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  39. Shenton, A. K. (2004). Strategies for ensuring trustworthiness in qualitative research projects. Education for Information, 22(2), 63–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Song, C., Havlin, S., & Makse, H. A. (2005). Self-similarity of complex networks. Nature, 433(7024), 392–395.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Tan, C., & Ng, P. T. (2007). Dynamics of change: Decentralised centralism of education in Singapore. Journal of Educational Change, 8(2), 155–168.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Tan, J. (2006). Limited decentralisation in the Singapore education system. In C. Bjork (Ed.), Educational decentralisation: Asian experiences and conceptual contributions (pp. 59–70). Dordrecht, Netherlands: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. The Straits Times, (2015, March 30). Keep pragmatism as guiding philosophy. Retrieved from http://www.straitstimes.com/opinion/keep-pragmatism-as-guiding-principle
  44. Toh, Y., Jamaludin, A., Hung, D., & Chua, P. (2014). Ecological leadership: Going beyond system leadership for diffusing school-based innovations in the crucible of change for 21st century learning. The Asia-Pacific Education Researcher, 23(4), 835–850.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Trocki, C. A. (2006). Singapore: Wealth, power and the culture of control. Abingdon, England: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Whitty, G. (2000). Teacher professionalism in new times. Journal of In-Service Education, 26(2), 281–295.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Wößmann, L., Lüdemann, E., Schütz, G., & West, M. R. (2007). School accountability, autonomy, choice, and the level of student achievement: International evidence from PISA 2003. OECD Education working papers, No. 13, OECD Publishing. Retrieved from http://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/education/school-accountability-autonomy-choice-and-the-level-of-student-achievement_246402531617
  48. Wu, X., & Ramesh, M. (2014). Market imperfections, government imperfections, and policy mixes: Policy innovations in Singapore. Policy Sciences, 47(3), 305–320.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Yin, R. K. (2014). Case study research: Design and methods. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul Meng-Huat Chua
    • 1
  • Yancy Toh
    • 1
  • Sujin He
    • 1
  • Azilawati Jamaludin
    • 1
  • David Hung
    • 1
  1. 1.National Institute of EducationNanyang Technological UniversitySingaporeSingapore

Personalised recommendations