Citizenship Attributes for the 21st Century: A Study of Singapore Teachers' Perceptions in Comparative Perspectives

Project Number
OER 19/10 LWO

Project Duration
June 2011 - March 2016


Recent thinking in citizenship reflects broader perspectives that integrate citizenship attributes with 21st century skills, undergirded by shared values such as respect, responsibility, care, social justice, and co-operation. Similarly, the Ministry of Education (MoE) in Singapore has recently initiated a new policy known as the Curriculum 2015 (C2015). C2015 focuses on developing 21st competencies in students, to bring about the desired outcomes of education, embodied in the ''Confident Person'', ''Self-directed Learner'', ''Active Contributor'', and ''Concerned Citizen''. A new curricular initiative, Citizenship and Character Education, emphasizes the integrative nature of citizenship and 21st century competencies and will be implemented in all schools in Singapore in 2011. We argue that the MoE's C2015 policy of developing the 21st century competencies is about developing citizenship attributes, or the 'new' good citizen under conditions of globalization. However, a fundamental assumption exists amongst policy makers that education policy will, when translated to school contexts, be implemented faithfully by teachers. Teachers at the institutional levels are not mere passive receivers and implementers of policy decisions. This is all the more so when the policy has to do with developing citizenship. Citizenship is value-laden, and its meanings can be varied and contested. Invariably, citizens in the same state will understand citizenship differently. We propose a mixed-method study to investigate (a) teachers' conception of good citizenship, and (b) conditions that will have implications for good citizenship pedagogies. The primary objectives of the project are two-fold. Firstly, the research project supports MoE's C2015 policy in developing the desired citizenship attributes. To implement the new policy effectively, we argue that it is imperative to take stock of teachers' current perceptions and practices of citizenship education. Is there a general consensus within the country and across countries about what constitutes good citizenship and good citizenship pedagogy? Are teachers' perceptions of the characteristics of good citizenship congruent with expressed ideals in the C2015? Is there a measurement invariance of the constructs of perceptions of good citizenship and perceptions of conditions for citizenship education across countries? Knowing these answers will help us address the gap between the current state and the policy ideal, and plan for more effective achievement of the desired education outcomes of C2015. Secondly, given the growing international interest in citizenship education under conditions of globalization, we will situate our proposed study in existing cross-national studies not only to gauge how we fare vis-?-vis others, but through comparison, we can learn how to improve our own practices to better achieve our desired outcomes. We will use two established survey instruments namely the Teacher Perception of Good Citizenship and the ICCS teacher questionnaire (from the recent IEA Civic and Citizenship Study) to measure the constructs of perceptions of good citizenship and conditions for citizenship education, respectively. This provides a common basis for comparisons between Singapore teachers and those across different countries, and helps to situate us for future participation in international studies in this field. Overall, this proposed study fills a gap in the literature as the majority of citizenship education studies are focused on students, there are relatively few studies investigating citizenship teachers and their teaching both in Singapore and internationally.

Research Themes
Character & Citizenship/Values Education

Funding Source

Related Links
ReEd Vol 5 (2012): Citizenship Education in Dynamic Times

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