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date: 20 October 2019

Summary and Keywords

Educational neoliberalism has swept the world, and Singapore, with its much-lauded educational system, has not been spared. In fact, it has taken a stranglehold on the system, from its policymakers at the helm to its teachers at the chalkface. The embrace of neoliberal ideas has pervaded Singapore’s short educational history, from its colonial times to the present moment, undergirding various educational reforms intended to ensure economic survival in the global economy and prosperity for the nation. Through a slew of educational policies targeted at and enacted by the state-controlled educational organizations, chief among which are the state schools, these reforms have been promulgated as effective educational initiatives to develop each citizen to the fullest potential. Given its ideological centrality in these reforms, educational neoliberalism has exerted a palpable influence on principals, teachers, and their pedagogical practices through a torrent of various performance appraisal mechanisms meant to ensure accountability to the state and the various stakeholders, and stimulate competition in the form of ever-increasing scores, awards and recognized performances in different educational arenas. Thus, marketization and performance management have become the buzzwords for the education industry. Will Singapore’s educational system be able to survive this onslaught of neoliberal pressure? Can it counter the impact of educational neoliberalism on its teachers and their practices? Will its recent policy announcement of assessment reduction have an impact on this neoliberal discourse, or will the neoliberal juggernaut continue to thunder through the system, albeit with less rolling and clapping? Can the teachers contest and resist this neoliberal discourse, while struggling to stay afloat in the sea of performativity? It is these and other questions that have provided the impetus for the present article.

Keywords: neoliberalism, performativity, appraisal, education-economy nexus, Singapore

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