Education for citizenship in a plural society : with special application to Singapore
The thesis aims to suggest directions towards a defensible conception of citizenship and approach to citizenship education in Singapore. In recent years, citizenship in Singapore has centred around the themes of identity and participation. Among educationists in general, there is a recognition that citizens need to be prepared for involvement in the political process. In plural societies, however, there is no one set of values which can guide deliberation and resolve differences. Consequently, there are questions as to the values which could be advocated in citizenship education. The approach in this thesis is to analyse the concept of citizenship, with due consideration given to the values and assumptions of Singapore society, and its social, political and economic circumstances. This analysis is carried out in the light of the research and theorising on citizenship and citizenship education in England and Wales. Controversial issues exist on which there is no agreement on which society is divided. The neutral approach, which is sometimes suggested as being appropriate for handling such issues, is examined. The larger question of state neutrality is also discussed, and a case is made for state perfectionism. In addition, it is argued that there are legitimate variations in moral judgement, and an account is presented of the nature of moral thinking that admits of such variations. It is suggested that a common culture is important in a plural society because this provides the grounds for policy decisions, particularly where state perfectionism is espoused; it also allows for the development of a national identity. Developing this common culture requires public deliberation in exploring the values and issues concerning a society. Finally, the arguments that have been presented are related to citizenship and citizenship education in Singapore, and recommendations made.