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The Rationale for Visual Arts Education in Singapore: Analysis of Policies and Opinions

KOK, CHUNG,OI (2011) The Rationale for Visual Arts Education in Singapore: Analysis of Policies and Opinions. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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This thesis focuses on the rationale for visual arts education in the context of Singapore. It does so by examining key policy documents and interviewing key stakeholders.

In the mid 1960s, Singapore was separated from the Federal of Malaya, leaving the country in uncertainty because of the lack of natural resources. Also the withdrawal of the British colony had left the Singapore economy in turmoil. The only pragmatic solution for the government was to resort to human capital to develop the economy, which mainly centred on promoting science, engineering, commerce and technology learning. Mathematics and science were given the highest priority as these subjects offered skills that were desirable for the economy.

In the 1990s, the government realised that for the Singapore economy to continue to grow steadily, foreign talent would play a crucial role. One way to attract these talents was to develop Singapore into a vibrant arts and cultural scene. The government began to pay attention to arts education as it was felt that the arts could offer skills for potential cultural manpower to contribute in the cultural industry for the purpose of enticing talents to work, live and contribute to the Singapore economy.

There has therefore been a shift in attitudes to the arts. The conflicting interests motivated me to seek to establish the rationale for visual arts education in Singapore. The research was carried out using two research methods: documentary analysis to examine key documents pertaining to the Ministry of Education (MOE) arts syllabuses and Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts (MICA) reports and qualitative interviews to seek the views of the art teachers, arts scholars/academics and policy makers.

The research findings show that the rationale for visual arts education is related to three broad areas: (i) the development of personal developmental skills (ii) the development of ‘extended logic’, ‘self-confidence’ and ‘art history’ (iii) the contribution to the cultural and creative economy. These three areas at first appear to be in conflict but are in fact inter-connected. The thesis makes recommendations for the coherent presentation of arts policy in Singapore.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Education
Keywords:Visual Arts, Personal Developmental Skills, Extended Logic, Self-Confidence, Art History Cultural and Creative industry
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Education, School of
Thesis Date:2011
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:02 Jun 2011 14:40

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