Page 7 - Education Change and Economic Development: The Case of Singapore Dr. Goh Chor Boon National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University
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Education Change and Economic Development: The Case of Singaporec67

                   shortage of local expertise in the field of science and technology. In 1970, it was

                   estimated that Singapore would remain short of about 450 to 500 engineers each
                   year over the period 1970 to 1975 - despite the government’s effort to increase
                   the annual output of engineers from the then University of Singapore from 80
                   to 210 by 1974.  The shortage of management personnel and technicians was
                   equally worrisome, the former by about 200 a year over the next three years and
                   the latter by as many as 1,500 to 2,000 each year over the next two years.
                       In the late 1970s, it became clear that as countries in Southeast Asia began
                   to compete effectively for foreign investments in low-skilled, labour-intensive
                   industries, Singapore’s previous comparative advantage in labour-intensive
                   manufactured products was gradually being eroded. The economic planners now

                   launched an economic restructuring strategy to shift from low-skilled, labour-
                   intensive to technology-led, capital-intensive industrialization. The government

                   had assumed a crucial role in raising the Singapore worker’s knowledge and
                   skills to accelerate industrial restructuring. A new education system was needed.
                       During the “survival-driven” phase of education change in the 1960s
                   and 1970s, the priority was to create jobs, so that the people and the country

                   could survive. The strategy was to expand quickly the accessibility to primary
                   education for all Singaporeans. This would at least create a young labor

                   force with basic education to support the labor-intensive factories provided
                   for by largely foreign companies. Besides, rapid construction of schools and
                   recruitment of teachers would also provide employment opportunities. However,
                   up to the 1970s, while the rapid construction of schools and training cohorts of

                   5    Goh Keng Swee, The Economics of Modernization (Singapore: Asia Pacific Press,
                      1972), p. 273.
                   6   Ibid., p. 274.
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