You may have already heard this. During an official visit to Phnom Penh in 1967, the late Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s first Prime Minister, said: “I hope one day, my city will look like this. Arguably, Phnom Penh was then considered “the jewel of Asia.” Today Singapore has already moved past that dream of having only a beautiful city to becoming an economic powerhouse in Asia and the world. Is there something we Cambodians can learn from Singapore’s success?
Indeed, many factors have contributed to Singapore’s today success as a fully developed nation. Nevertheless, the education sector is undeniably a significant player. From the very early stage of becoming an independent state in 1965, the Singaporean government has worked out a policy vision as to what the country is expected of its educational institutions- from primary to tertiary levels- to contribute to Singaporean social and economic development and beyond.
Detailed records of education policy transformation and implementation are outlined in this book published by the World Bank in 2008 entitled “Toward a better future-education and training development in Singapore since 1965.” The book is available for download free of charge here http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTAFRREGTOPEDUCATION/Resources/444659-1204656846740/4734984-1212686310562/Toward_a_better_future_Singapore.pdf.
I believe it is entirely appropriate and beneficial for Cambodians to learn some useful lessons from our friend who have positively transformed their society to become a prosperous nation in a relatively short period of time. Cambodian policymakers, educators, and other stakeholders should read this book to understand how the Singaporeans have planned their education development/course to serve socio-economic development agenda. Useful lessons drawn from what has happened in Singapore will give us a fresh look at what we should do to better our society.