IOE EPrints

Education for active citizenship : youth organisations and alternative forms of citizenship in Hong Kong and Singapore

Han, Christine (2015) Education for active citizenship : youth organisations and alternative forms of citizenship in Hong Kong and Singapore. In: Constructing Modern Asian Citizenship. Routledge Studies in Education and Society in Asia, - (-). Routledge, Abingdon (Oxon) and New York, -. ISBN - (In Press)

One or more attached document(s) are restricted.


Hong Kong and Singapore are two polities that, in common with other East Asian developmental states, have prioritised economic development and (to differing degrees) harnessed education to create a loyal citizenry and skilled workforce. However, the promotion of active and critical citizenship (Johnson and Morris 2010) has not been a key feature of the school curriculum in either society. Democratisation and liberalisation in Singapore have proceeded at a glacial pace as determined by the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP). In Hong Kong, the picture is more mixed: on the one hand, government and political ties with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) have become more entrenched even while, on the other, the new Liberal Studies curriculum promotes – in intent if not always in practice – a more ‘active’ vision of citizenship than any previous compulsory school subject (Vickers 2011). Reflecting the political realities of the two societies, citizenship education has tended to combine a prescriptive view of values and citizenship with a largely directive pedagogical approach (Han, Janmaat, May and Morris 2013). In the case of Hong Kong, a colonial government inclined to adopt a laissez faire approach, in view of its limited political legitimacy, has given way to a Beijing-appointed administration anxious to foster identification with the People's Republic of China. In Singapore, decades of PAP rule have resulted in a school curriculum strongly oriented towards inculcating acceptance of the regime’s soft authoritarianism, and its vision of a meritocratic, multicultural and loyal citizenry. In both societies, however, younger citizens have in recent years increasingly engaged in forms of civic activism that challenge the established order. Groups of young people have come together to push the boundaries of free speech and critical thinking, questioning the status quo and, in some cases, openly opposing government policies. Modern forms of communication and social networking have played an important role in this. Within small communities, and using the latest technology, young people exchange the knowledge and skills they need to engage in civic and political activism. They explore and develop social and political values and debate current issues, while also learning to tread the fine line between what is and is not permitted in their society. It is argued here that, for their young participants, these organisations constitute a new vehicle for non-formal citizenship education radically different in both form and political content from the conventional school curriculum. Moreover, the Internet extends involvement in these organisations well beyond the youth population to the general public, especially the younger demographic, promoting visions of citizenship neglected in, absent from, or alternative to the content of formal schooling. This chapter analyses three cases – two from Hong Kong and one from Singapore – of active youth organisations, examining the visions of citizenship that they promote. It compares these visions not only to each other, but also to those set out in the official school curriculum, both in terms of explicit ideological content, and the messages implied in particular forms of teaching, learning and civic engagement.

Item Type: Book Section
Controlled Keywords: citizenship , Hong Kong, Singapore, youth movement, active citizenship, alternative citizenship education, Citizenship, Informal learning, Politics, Education
Depositing User: Atira Pure
Date Deposited: 19 Dec 2014 10:07
Last Modified: 29 Jan 2015 09:57
View Item View Item