Even though Singapore’s education system has largely emphasised language, science and mathematics, arts subjects such as art, music and literature have nevertheless always been a part of school syllabi. At the same time, the ministries and agencies involved in developing arts and culture have also consistently argued for the need to broaden and deepen exposure to the arts for students as a way to nurture artists and broaden audiences. For instance, in 2012 the Arts and Culture Strategic Review (ACSR), tasked to chart the next phase of cultural development in Singapore, proposed an Arts and Culture Education Masterplan to provide our young with wider exposure to arts and culture. One of its key recommendations is to increase exposure for local literary content through schools.
While the School of The Arts and Arts Elective Programme have broadened opportunities for arts education, other signs are not so encouraging. In particular, the number of students studying English Literature at secondary level has seen a precipitous drop from nearly 17,000 in 1992 to 3,000 in 2013. Furthermore, although Singapore works are now in the literature syllabus, only two of the 12 prescribed texts for the 2016 O-Level literature examination are by Singapore writers.
This roundtable will critically examine the challenges and opportunities faced in developing a holistic arts education in Singapore, with a particular focus on literature. Issues to be discussed include curricula development, pedagogical and professional development, the number of students taking literature, and the accessibility and relevance of arts education in Singapore schools today. Importantly, apart from education-related issues, this roundtable will also discuss the wider cultural and national policy implications, including the development of the arts and creative industries, the nurturing of cultural and participatory citizenship, the encouragement of a national reading culture and the cultivation of a cosmopolitan and inclusive society.
To allow for free and frank exchange, this roundtable will be “closed-door” and held under the Chatham House Rule.
About the IPS-SAM Spotlight on Cultural Policy Series
The IPS-SAM Spotlight on Cultural Policy Series is a space for the frank, robust but collegial discussion of the issues and challenges related to arts and cultural policy in Singapore. Each discussion will gather together members of the arts and creative community, policy-makers, academics and other stakeholders working across different fields, to discuss a specific, timely topic about the arts and cultural policy landscape in Singapore. The goal is to assess current policies and offer recommendations for the future. The Singapore Art Museum (SAM) is the venue sponsor for the 2015 – 2016 series.
The Series is convened by IPS researchers, Mr Tan Tarn How and Dr Hoe Su Fern.
The seminars in the series are: