Singapore is a multi-racial country with majority ethnic Chinese. English is made the administrative language and the common language of interaction between various races. In 1979, Singapore implemented a special programme, the Special Assistance Program (SAP), to transform Chinese schools into elite schools for the top 10 percent of students. So what is the purpose of SAP schools? According to official MOE press release1, SAP schools were established in order to “preserve the ethos of the Chinese medium schools and to promote the learning of Chinese Language and culture.” In 1970s, we see the downfall of Chinese-language education due to the lack of support and the ascendance of English as a global language. Even the Nanyang University, the only Chinese language post-secondary institution, was forced to merge with university of Singapore to form the current National University of Singapore (NUS) to promote English as Singapore’s national language. Fearing the downfall of Chinese language or diminishment of Chinese values in Singapore, the government led by Mr Lee Kuan Yuan came out with a series of pro-Chinese policies, and amongst the most prominent ones, the Speak Mandarin campaign and the SAP schools. There is growing concern over the disparity of treatment of different races, and SAP schools has been raised as an example of biasness towards Chinese. SAP schools are designed to promote Chinese language and culture in Singapore. Extra funding is given by Ministry of Education (MOE) for these schools to embark on various cultural programmes. In comparison, the Malays and Indians are neglected. There is no extra help to promote Malay or Tamil culture within our education system. This results in unrest amongst the minorities in Singapore. Another concern over SAP schools is with regards to the lack of interaction between different ethnic races. SAP schools focus on promoting of Chinese culture and values through programmes like Chinese poems reading session,...
Constructing Singapore: Elitism, Ethnicity and the Nation-Building Project
By Michael D. Barr, Zlatko Skrbiš
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