An Exploratory Study on the Learning Needs and Home Background of Socio-economically Disadvantaged

Project Number
OER 06/12 TSS

Project Duration
July 2012 - April 2014


With demographic changes in the population, Singapore is facing an increasing diversification of student population in schools. The presence of foreign students, schooling children of foreign expatriates and the children of local citizens and foreigners are adding dimensions to the Chinese-Malay-Indian-Other multiracial multiculturalism that Singapore is accustomed to. However, the diversity of students means that to fulfil what the Minister of Education calls ''student-centric education'', becomes trickier. To achieve this goal, understanding has to be gained over who our students are so that we can cater to their needs. Among the new student population is the ''New Singaporeans'' , products of Singaporean-foreigner marriages. A majority of them are born of Singaporean fathers and their foreign wives. Many of these international couples received only secondary school education and are likely low-income earners. These marginal groups are easily disadvantaged as demonstrated by the ''New Taiwanese'' and ''New Koreans'' of similar mixed backgrounds. Children with a migrant mother who is unfamiliar with the local language and school system and still serves as the main carer for the children at home, finds it challenging to impart to her children the social and cultural capital the school values. Korea and Taiwan have already embarked on multicultural educational policies to assist these students, correct stereotypes and prejudice although they are still exploring the ways to solve related issues. This study uses enthographic methods to observe parent-child interactions as well as qualitative interviews with parents and NPOs personnel to understand how the home environment impacts on the New Singaporeans' learning and what can be done to assist children who have learning challenges. It also explores the areas knowledge on this group of students can inform the direction of multicultural education in teacher education so that culturallty relevant pedagogy can be practised to better aid the students and to manage diversity.

Funding Source

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