Good PRE-School Education Policies In Singapore Argumentative Essay Example
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The progressive policies enacted by the Singaporean government towards pre-school education in the Heartlands are a pointer to the authorities’ effort to enhance equity and equality. The policy as overseen by the Ministry of Education since 2013 had the main intent of introducing fifteen government-run kindergartens in the Heartlands. The policy was further complemented by the Ministry for Social and Family Development’s decision to fund the program in order to make pre-school education. Known as KiFAS (Kindergarten Fee Assistance Scheme) the program was established with the main aim of subsiding pre-school education for the middle and low-income families with every household with a gross income of $6,000 given more aid (Ministry of Education ,Singapore, 2014). These programs go on to show the social imbalance that Singapore grapples and that the authorities are keen to reverse. This paper will try to analyze the impact of the policies in the heartlands and the overall stratified Singaporean society.
In order to fully understand the viability of the policies advanced by the Singaporean government it is prudent to understand the significance of the Heartlands. The Heartlands, in the sociological context, represents the conservative majority of Singaporeans that occupy the low and middle class (Goh, 2005). The Heartlands are characterized by public housing under the Housing Development Board (HDB) with the majority of the residents rooted in the Singaporean cultures and traditions. The Heartlanders unlike their cosmopolitan counterparts that reside in the plush residences are less-educated and less wealthy (King, 2007). They further have a localized perspective on economics and politics of the country. Their main concerns are focused on their children’s education and their livelihood rather than abstract ideas of political and artistic space (Heng & Aljunied, 2009).
Functions of Kindergarten in Education
As per the education policy tailor-made specifically for the Heartlands, pre-school education is key to an individual’s growth in the learning sphere. Kindergartens offer a foundation for a life-long education experience or process. One key area that Kindergarten helps in an individual’s life is the improvement of personal and social skills. The pre-school environment offers many individuals with a conducive space to interact (Yue & Zubillaga-Pow, 2012). Children learn the basic language skills that enhance their relation and interaction with others. They also get to internalize sound moral and social values that lay a critical foundation in their later life engagements. They can know what is right from wrong based on the values instilled in them The kindergarten education further boosts their self-esteem as they tackle new learning experiences. The kindergartens also through various activities enhance the “physical co-ordination as well as healthy habits.” It also fosters a strong sense of curiosity about things around the children who plays a key role in the subsequent years in primary education.
Sociological Perspectives on Pre-School Education
Using two sociological perspectives, functionalism and theory, the reasoning and implication of the pre-school policies can be analyzed. The functionalist perspective in this context focuses on how the education system serves the societal needs effectively. Using this perspective, education is observed in its core role of conveying skills and knowledge to the next generation (Kirby & Assessment and Qualifications Alliance, 2000). According to Durkheim, education has the “latent role of socializing individuals into the society’s mainstream” (Morrow & Torres, 1995). Education, in this case, helps in the maintenance of a cohesive society drawing members from different backgrounds. The MoE’s policy is aimed at ensuring education is a universal right enjoyed by all Singapore children. By investing in the Heartlands pre-school education, the government is keen on ensuring that education is accessible to even children hailing from low and middle-class backgrounds. The pre-school education, in this instance, alongside its key roles acts as a functional unit of the society. It socializes children at an early age ensuring that they foster cohesiveness and harmony in the society. The government understands to raise a harmonious society it must invest in good education policies that will see to it children are socialized in accordance with Singaporean attitudes, morals and values.
The conflict theory emphasizes the political, social or material inequality in a society generates conflict and eventual social change (Swedberg & Agevall, 2005). Using this theory, the efforts of the MoE to bring reforms in the pre-school education are aimed at perpetuating social inequality and maintaining the status quo. Investment into fifteen pre-schools is perceived as too little too late to the masses residing in the HBDs. There is bound to be less quality education in these institutions as compared to those in the cosmopolitan Singapore. The kindergartens, from a conflict theorist perspective, will only prepare the children to a predetermined system that has characterized the Heartlands over the years. The children will graduate from kindergarten to a relatively inferior education system as compared to their counterparts that reside in the cosmopolitan suburbs. The students in these cosmopolitan suburbs due to the advantages that come with their status will go on to acquire quality education in affluent schools. The Heartlands children, on the other hand, are less likely to join good schools ultimately limiting their chances of competing for opportunities, in the long run. The Heartlands children will eventually occupy the low and middle classes same as their parents due to the inequality perpetuated by the education policies advanced by the Singaporean government.
Drawing comparisons from the two perspectives, a lot of observations can be made. The functionalist perspective focuses on the policies as keen on ensuring a cohesive society is maintained. The theory perceives the policies as integral in inculcating the relevant values in children that may help them relate with other members of the society. Using the cultural capital concept, education, in this case, is perceived as a tool essential in equipping individuals with knowledge skills that make them better society members. The pre-school education is an institutionalized cultural capital that is keen on preparing children for future educational discourse, as well as their future entry into the job market (Winkle-Wagner, Ward, & Wolf-Wendel, 2010). The conflict theory on the other hand analyzes the policies as keen on maintaining the Singaporean status quo at the expense of the majority of the “Heartlanders” (Stangor, 2004). The policies advanced by the government cannot enhance equality in the education sector. The pre-school policies can be said to enhance reproduction of class for in the conflict theory perspective (Fitz, Davies, & Evans, 2006). This concept essentially defines how a class is perpetuated cross generations. The Singaporean education, in this case, is perceived to reproduce the low and middle class of the Heartlands members.
The policies enacted by the Ministry of Education alongside Ministry of Social and Family Development will provide a good head start to the Heartlands communities, in the long run. The policies will ensure that a strong foundation is laid for the young children’s formative years in the Singaporean education system. In addition, the policies will ensure that all children from different backgrounds have an equal shot at success in academics (Ball, 2006). The foundation will translate to academic success in the primary, secondary and tertiary education institutions. By using a comprehensive formula in awarding fee aid to deserving families in the KiFAS (Kindergarten Fee Assistance Scheme) will be integral in ensuring the poor are shielded from further costs emanating from pre-school education. The pre-school education formerly a preserve of the well-to-do families will be accessible courtesy of the Singaporean government’s initiatives.
Ball, S. J. (2006). Education policy and social class: The selected works of Stephen J. Ball. London: Routledge.
Fitz, J., Davies, B., & Evans, J. (2006). Educational policy and social reproduction: Class inscription and symbolic control. London: Routledge.
Goh, R. B. (2005). Contours of culture: Space and social difference in Singapore. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press.
Heng, D. T., & Aljunied, S. M. (2009). Reframing Singapore: Memory, identity, trans-regionalism. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.
King, V. T. (2007). The sociology of Southeast Asia: Transformations in a developing region. Copenhagen: NIAS.
Kirby, M., & Assessment and Qualifications Alliance. (2000). Sociology in perspective. Oxford: Heinemann.
Ministry of Education ,Singapore. (2014, September 9). Ministry of Education, Singapore: Education System: Pre-school Education. Retrieved from http://www.moe.gov.sg/education/preschool/
Morrow, R. A., & Torres, C. A. (1995). Social theory and education: A critique of theories of social and cultural reproduction. Albany: State University of New York Press.
Stangor, C. (2004). Social groups in action and interaction. New York: Psychology Press.
Swedberg, R., & Agevall, O. (2005). The Max Weber dictionary: Key words and central concepts. Stanford, CA: Stanford Social Sciences.
Winkle-Wagner, R., Ward, K., & Wolf-Wendel, L. (2010). Cultural capital: The promises and pitfalls in educational research. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Yue, A., & Zubillaga-Pow, J. (2012). Queer singapore: Illiberal citizenship and mediated cultures. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press.
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