Summary and Keywords
Since the turn of this century, and especially in the past decade, Singapore has consistently done well in international benchmark studies, be it the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS), the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), or the International Baccalaureate diploma assessment. Singapore’s sterling performance in these different benchmark assessments has been widely attributed to the quality of its teaching force, which is, in turn, ascribed to the teacher education programs provided by its sole teacher education institution – the National Institute of Education (NIE), Nanyang Technological University (NTU). Teacher education began during the country’s colonial past, but there was no designated provider of comprehensive training until teacher training was institutionalized in 1950, when the Teacher Training College was established. After Singapore gained independence in 1965, the institution’s capacity expanded rapidly as a teacher training department and later as a statutory board within the Ministry of Education. In 1991, to raise the stature of teacher education, the Teacher Training College was incorporated as an autonomous institute within the newly formed NTU. Due to the need to ensure the survival of a tiny island nation over the years, it has been imperative to educate the population for industry and development. In the process, tensions have arisen from: (a) the recruitment of huge numbers of teachers and the concomitant quality of their training, (b) collaboration with the Ministry of Education, and (c) the influence of educational research on theory and practice. In the third decade of the 21st century, with the stranglehold that neoliberalism has on many educational systems around the world, including Singapore, will NIE be able to prepare its future teachers to navigate and survive in such a climate, while continuing to strengthen its theory-practice nexus? With the dwindling of student numbers across all sectors and the accompanying reduced need for new teachers in the country, will NIE look beyond the shores of Singapore, internationalize its programs, and take on a leadership role in the region?
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