The Chinese community in Singapore can be divided into two clusters that is, the Chinese migrants from China that still regarded China, as their “home” as well as the Straits Chinese who mostly did not consider themselves as citizens of China rather, they were British citizens that considered Singapore their home. Straits Chinese or the Queen’s Chinese was not bothered about the politics in China and were mostly educated in English schools. This paper will therefore discuss the challenges in education faced by the Chinese community, more specifically the China-born Chinese migrants, in postwar Singapore.
During the period of colonial rule, the Chinese community received the least amount of support from the colonial government from an education perspective. Teachers and students alike were subjected to biased treatments for example, Chinese school teachers received a lower remuneration as compared to English school teachers and Chinese middle school graduates also found themselves with the predicament of no employment opportunities. This is consistent with the newspaper article titled, Education in Chinese that says, “Yearly, there are thousands of Chinese schools passing out from vernacular schools who are left jobless and ramble up and down the streets of the Federation because they have no bilingual qualifications.” The Chinese community had to finance their own schools as well as the employment of teachers from China.3 Predictably, the teachings in Chinese schools here, correspondingly modeled that as in China: with textbooks being imported from there.3 Students were taught “compilations that were vehicles of Confucianism” and materials that reiterated lessons of filial piety and loyalty towards one’s land.3 Chinese schools in Singapore was thus regarded as, “a branch of China’s education system”1 that which, propagated a china-centered identity and was seen by the British as a hindrance to the administrative plans for the island.
Following the surrender of the Japanese, one of the many things that the British had to do after the war was to create a common identity among the citizens in Singapore. This was because; the Japanese Occupation had employed Malays in their proceedings against the Chinese. What this did was that it created a distance between the two communities and led to the Chinese communities resentment of the Malays. This was one of the reasons why the British took steps to ensure uniformity in the education system in Singapore.
“British’s attempt to Anglicize the education in Singapore” represented the primary challenge faced by the Chinese community, as the Anglicization of the education system posed the threat of them losing their identity. This attempt by the British came in the form of the Ten Year Educational Program in 1948, which prioritize the English Language. The Chinese migrants who came from China saw this as an act of disdain by the colonial government towards the Chinese Language. The Ten Year Educational...