Chia Yeow-Tong (1974 - )

chia yt

Short Biography & Significant Contribution

Yeow-Tong Chia is Senior Lecturer in History Curriculum Education at the Faculty of Education and Social Work, University of Sydney. Born in Singapore, he was educated at the National University of Singapore, National Institute of Education (Singapore), The University of Western Australia and the Ontario Institute of Studies in Education, University of Toronto. Chia has taught history at Singapore secondary schools and worked as a National Education Officer with the Ministry of Education (Singapore) before pursuing his Ph.D at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. His professional experience during this time provided him with the opportunities to acquire in-depth understanding of how various educational policies in Singapore have contributed to the country’s nation building. Upon receiving his doctoral degree, he worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Macau before assuming his role as a lecturer at the University of Sydney, teaching History Curriculum units in the combined degree and the Master of Teaching programmes.

Dr Chia is active in the fields of comparative, international and development education, history of education and Asian Studies. His research interests include history and citizenship education in Singapore and Australia, the teaching of Chinese history in Ontario’s high schools, Chinese Canadian history in Canadian history education and education and developmental state formation. His interest in this area is evident through his contributions in journal articles, book chapters and conference papers on topics such as the role of history teaching in nation building and state formation. As the Country Coordinator for Singapore with the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre at the University of Sydney, Chia has been invited on various occasions by the media to comment on issues related to Asia. These include Singapore’s Higher Education and Confucianism and education in China and Singapore. 

Currently, Dr Chia is involved in a research project titled “Exploring Hybrid Universities in Asia: Culture, Value and Change”. This is a cross-country study consisting of China, Hong Kong SAR, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam and Singapore. It is a three-year study comprising of three phases – the first phase is to build a case for East Asian characteristics in the historical development of East Asian universities in specific contexts; the second phase is to collect empirical evidence of these characteristics, and the third phase is to theorize the hybridization in higher education. This project is one of the key research clusters of the Asian Pacific Higher Education Research Partnership.

Dr Chia’s significant contribution to the field lies in his insightful analysis of the role of education in the formation of the Singapore developmental state from 1955 to present. The result of his research is succinctly encapsulated in his first book Education, Culture and the Singapore Developmental State – World-Soul Lost and Regained? (Palgrave Macmillian, 2015).  As highlighted by Professor Gopinathan at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore and Professor  Ruth Sandwell from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto, the book provides an insight into how educational policies were used to create a sense of national identity in Singapore. This is an important contribution to both the growth of community understanding within Singapore and in history and citizenship education circles around the world.

Building on his book, Dr Chia is investigating how citizenship education throughout the 20th century in Republican China, Taiwan and Singapore reflect both a dialogue and a conflict between the East and the West.  This is a historical comparative study of citizenship education and Confucian modernity in Singapore, Taiwan and Republican China with the goal of anticipating how Confucian modernity in education will shape China’s future state formation.

Educational Background


BA(Hons), National University of Singapore, Singapore (1999)


Post-Grad Diploma in Education (Secondary), National Institute of Education, Singapore (2000)


M.Ed Management, The University of Western Australia, Australia (2003)


Ph.D., University of Toronto – Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, Canada (2011). Principal fields: History of Education; Comparative, International and Development Education



Professional Background

Senior Lecturer, University of Sydney (2016 – present)


Lecturer, University of Sydney (2012 – present)


Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Macau (August 2011 – January 2012)


Lee Kong Chian Research Fellow at the National Library Board, Singapore (December 2008 – September 2009)


National Education Officer with the Ministry of Education, Singapore
(2003 – 2004)


Graduate Assistant at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education

(2005 – 2010)


Teacher of history and English Language at secondary school level in Singapore (2000 – 2002)



Affiliations (associations, organizations, institutions)


Asian Studies Association of Australia, General Council Member (2014 – present)


Singapore Country Coordinator, Sydney Southeast Asia Centre, University of Sydney (2014 – present)


Historical Encounters, Editorial Board Member (2013 – present)


The International Journal of Comparative Education and Development, Editorial Board Member (2016 – present)


Referee for the following Journals: 

Compare, Comparative Educational Review, European Education, Asia Pacific Journal of Education, Journal of Curriculum Studies, Pedagogica Historica, History of Education, History of Education Review, Historical Encounters



Selected Publications


Chia, Yeow-Tong (2016). Singapore general election 2015 and the role of citizenship education. The Round Table, 105(2), 149-160.

Chia, Yeow-Tong (2015). Education, Culture and the Singapore Developmental State: 'World-Soul' Lost and Regained?. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Chia, Yeow-Tong (2014). State formation and nation building through education: The origins and introduction of the "National Education" program in Singapore. In James H Williams (Eds.), (Re)constructing memory: School textbooks and the imagination of the nation, (pp. 61-77). Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.


Chia, Yeow-Tong (2013). Through the "Western" gaze: Chinese history in Ontario High School World History Syllabus and textbooks, 1947-ca. 1980s. History of Education Review, 42(2), 199-211.


Chia, Yeow-Tong (2012). History education for nation building and state formation: The case of Singapore. International Journal of Citizenship Teaching and Learning, 7(2), 191-207.

Chia, Yeow-Tong (2012). Historicizing Comparative and International Education, and Internationalizing History of Education: A Personal reflection on Ruth Hayhoe's Call for Cultural Dialogue. In Karen Mundy and Qiang Zha (Eds.), Education and Global Cultural Dialogue: A Tribute to Ruth Hayhoe, (pp. 69-82). New York, USA: Palgrave Macmillan.

Chia, Yeow-Tong (2012). What is National Education? The origins and introduction of the "National Education" programme in Singapore. In Jason Tan (Eds.), Education in Singapore: Taking Stock, Looking Forward, (pp. 3-16). Singapore: Pearson Education South Asia.

Chia, Yeow-Tong (2011). The elusive goal of nation building: Asian/Confucian values and citizenship education in Singapore during the 1980s. British Journal of Educational Studies, 59(4), 383-402.




Contributed by: Jia Ying Neoh, University of Sydney


Date Contributed: August 16, 2016