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Chinese Education in Singapore: An Untold Story of Conflict and Change

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The story of the conflict in Singapore's Chinese community was always told from the viewpoint of the British colonizers. A coolie's perspective was never written down. Until now. Set between the founding of Singapore and the shuttering of Nanyang University, this narrative is a colorful account of secret societies and their wars, of Sinitic languages and dialects, and of s The story of the conflict in Singapore's Chinese community was always told from the viewpoint of the British colonizers. A coolie's perspective was never written down. Until now. Set between the founding of Singapore and the shuttering of Nanyang University, this narrative is a colorful account of secret societies and their wars, of Sinitic languages and dialects, and of suppressions by a colonial government in a free port. Its pages are not crammed with historical facts and dates, but filled with the experiences of Chinese migrants over a 200-year period. It is an impression of their achievement and a witness to their weakness of character.


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The story of the conflict in Singapore's Chinese community was always told from the viewpoint of the British colonizers. A coolie's perspective was never written down. Until now. Set between the founding of Singapore and the shuttering of Nanyang University, this narrative is a colorful account of secret societies and their wars, of Sinitic languages and dialects, and of s The story of the conflict in Singapore's Chinese community was always told from the viewpoint of the British colonizers. A coolie's perspective was never written down. Until now. Set between the founding of Singapore and the shuttering of Nanyang University, this narrative is a colorful account of secret societies and their wars, of Sinitic languages and dialects, and of suppressions by a colonial government in a free port. Its pages are not crammed with historical facts and dates, but filled with the experiences of Chinese migrants over a 200-year period. It is an impression of their achievement and a witness to their weakness of character.

30 review for Chinese Education in Singapore: An Untold Story of Conflict and Change

  1. 5 out of 5

    Archit Ojha

    A hotshot read it was. “If you don't know history, then you don't know anything. You are a leaf that doesn't know it is part of a tree. ” ― Michael Crichton A pedantic book for those who want to stare closely into the history. I read few chapters of it and realized that I've a limited knowledge about the situation in Singapore about Chinese Education and I'm sure many other would share the same thought with me. Right from there, I was motivated to read everything about it before I read further pag A hotshot read it was. “If you don't know history, then you don't know anything. You are a leaf that doesn't know it is part of a tree. ” ― Michael Crichton A pedantic book for those who want to stare closely into the history. I read few chapters of it and realized that I've a limited knowledge about the situation in Singapore about Chinese Education and I'm sure many other would share the same thought with me. Right from there, I was motivated to read everything about it before I read further pages. That decision was favorable as it was then became an easy and engrossing read for me. The conflicts and the issues those people faced has been summarized fantastically. Some chapters would not be everyone's cup of tea but overall, they'll leave you informed, cognizant and a bit more wise. Unbiased and diplomatic views has been documented precisely. It is immensely useful and beneficial for the right audience. Always knew that learning Mandarin would pay off someday. Verdict : Interested in Singapore? Only the knowledge of visiting places won't do. Know its history and you'll look at it in a lot different way.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Pooja

    A book that would inspire generations. An informative book it was! Never would have I read anything in my life about the education system in China, had it not been for this one. I thank the author for writing such books that presents before us a combination of past events and hope for a better future. I didn't know about the situation of Chinese Education in Singapore so I first google about it and then started to read. It is a non-fiction book that concerns about how languages and culture evolved A book that would inspire generations. An informative book it was! Never would have I read anything in my life about the education system in China, had it not been for this one. I thank the author for writing such books that presents before us a combination of past events and hope for a better future. I didn't know about the situation of Chinese Education in Singapore so I first google about it and then started to read. It is a non-fiction book that concerns about how languages and culture evolved in China and then Singapore. The tax system that prohibited the women to migrate from one country to another was shocking. I haven't heard about it until I read it here. Informative, I told you so. Chronologically ordered and explanatory writing style. The red cover is all fascinating. Books like this one should be written more. This is the type of book that has a purpose of demanding your attention and ask you to plunge into a deeper level of understanding. I was glad to have paid attention to everything I could. Many topics and subjects were new for me and that fueled my curiosity to know more about the countries I hardly think about. It has instigated more interest in me for the education and languages and how they function.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Linda Perkins

    Chinese Education in Singapore: An Untold Story of Conflict and Change, is an unbiased view of Singapore's history. Singapore's story offers lessons for modern cities as many seek to build vibrant economies and achieve a high quality of living. It is interesting but not confusing. Writing is tight and very readable. Author clearly knows and enjoys his subject. This is a must read for those interested in the subject.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Ronald Keeler

    I was prepared to open the book and immediately read about Chinese Education in Singapore. I work at a Chinese university in Indonesia and one of my lecturer colleagues is from Singapore, so I was looking forward to a pleasant read that would further social discussion with my expatriate colleague. This book will do that, but not in the way I expected. The first chapter is devoted to a detailed discussion of the history of clans in China, their names (which have different pronunciations in differe I was prepared to open the book and immediately read about Chinese Education in Singapore. I work at a Chinese university in Indonesia and one of my lecturer colleagues is from Singapore, so I was looking forward to a pleasant read that would further social discussion with my expatriate colleague. This book will do that, but not in the way I expected. The first chapter is devoted to a detailed discussion of the history of clans in China, their names (which have different pronunciations in different dialects) and a history of clan wars and disputes. I felt most of this could only be appreciated by a Chinese person brought up in a Chinese cultural background. For me, it was “move on, nothing to see here.” Chapter two is about the Chinese language in its many, many forms. With maps. Even the author writes “Sorry about the hardcore use of Mandarin in this chapter. You may stay with me, or skip to Chapter Three.” [loc 234]. I didn’t take the advice, and I am glad I didn’t. This chapter will be of interest to those interested in studying Chinese and to those who work with Chinese people. There are times when two people speaking Chinese seem to not quite understand what each one is saying. This chapter will tell you why. There are also some interesting historical notes. And some humor. And the rest of the book is on target as far as content. In the following seven chapters plus an epilogue, the author describes the struggle for linguistic diversity in education and how it can be preserved when there is also a demand for standardization that will support an end goal of an internationally recognized, accredited degree or diploma. Zhang describes the struggle of females to be educated. (Pay attention to the inequality in females studying A levels compared to males). She describes the complex political atmosphere from the time Singapore and Malaysia were two separate British protectorates, a time when Singapore was a part of Malaysia, then Singapore independence. This is a simplification; Zhang describes it in detail. I am reviewing what I liked in the book. For details (again, well referenced) read the book. Political conflict alone can be thought of as polite and not violent. But there can be a violent component in the form of riots or outright insurrections and war. Zhang describes these as well, both the homegrown internal conflicts as well as proxy wars. This book is not as long as it first appears when initially opened. This is not a criticism; I appreciated the references and I clicked on the hyperlinked numbers inserted into the text frequently. I just want to point out that this is not as long as a Kindle end location of 2479 would indicate. The author begins a section titled “EXPLANATORY NOTES AND a list of References” at 65% in my mobi formatted ebook. This is followed at the 88% point with a Glossary of Chinese terms provided in characters and Romanization. I got this book through a Library Thing Member Giveaway in return for a review. This is an informative book. I learned things. It took me a while to get through it from time of acquisition to review. Apologies to the author. But those first two chapters are daunting.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jason

    What I know about Singapore..... 1. It was once under British rule 2. It isn't part of China 3. Romesh Ranganathan's family comes from there. (Turns out I knew less than I thought, Romesh comes from Sri Lanka...whoops) And that's it. I work at a school so was interested to read about the education system in Singapore. The book has been really well researched, some of the information must have been incredibly hard to gather. The amount of info thrown at you in the first couple of chapters is a bit ove What I know about Singapore..... 1. It was once under British rule 2. It isn't part of China 3. Romesh Ranganathan's family comes from there. (Turns out I knew less than I thought, Romesh comes from Sri Lanka...whoops) And that's it. I work at a school so was interested to read about the education system in Singapore. The book has been really well researched, some of the information must have been incredibly hard to gather. The amount of info thrown at you in the first couple of chapters is a bit overwhelming at times but halfway through the second chapter I got my head around things, sounding out the pronunciation of the place names really helped, I almost feel I have a slight grasp of Mandarin now. :-) I'm always shocked when I read about the sort of things the British got up to when ruling these other countries, it's complete madness. The layout of the book works well, starting off with the early conflicts between clans, the British moving in to calm things down and the start of schools being built. It took nearly 100 years and Singapore gaining independence to get things sorted so it was fair and everybody had access to school and a future once they left school. I found this to be a very interesting read, learnt loads and I'll be looking for more info on Singapore. One small issue with the book I have is the lack of information with all the charts, I don't know very much about statistics and didn't really get what I was looking at, a paragraph explaining each chart would have been very helpful for me.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    In 'Chinese Education in Singapore', Zhang gives an unvarnished portrayal of the struggles that the Chinese in Singapore had in maintaining a Chinese education system while under British colonial power and then as an independent country. The ethnic mix throughout Malaysia and Singapore provides a fascinating backdrop in which to create an education system. Each ethnic group fought for their own people's language and traditions, against each other and against the colonial power that sought to imp In 'Chinese Education in Singapore', Zhang gives an unvarnished portrayal of the struggles that the Chinese in Singapore had in maintaining a Chinese education system while under British colonial power and then as an independent country. The ethnic mix throughout Malaysia and Singapore provides a fascinating backdrop in which to create an education system. Each ethnic group fought for their own people's language and traditions, against each other and against the colonial power that sought to impose the English language, western principles, and subordination. Within each ethnic group, there were further subdivisions of class that caused additional friction and competition in the system as each group sought to better themselves with little true economic freedom. Zhang covers an interesting topic here but does not structure this book in a way that is accessible for someone not intimately familiar with the history of the region. Zhang jumps around around lot, making it hard to follow what time period is being discussed and how certain parts relate to the broader narrative. It is also often difficult to understand many points made that reference very specific historical events and people that are often presented without context. This book gives an interesting taste of how complex and fascinating the history of social development in Singapore has been but does not amount to a comprehensible discussion of the topic to someone not already intimately familiar with the subject matter.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jan

    I agree with the author that there has been more than enough written from the non-Chinese and non-Singaporean point of view. I see this as a doctoral thesis in a university in which English is it's 3rd or 4th language, yet it is very easy to comprehend. It is also NOT BORING. Immigrants to Singapore have not always been voluntary, and the mixing of different dialects has been a real trial to the people. Educating such a mix has been a very difficult task. I do wish that this could be made into an I agree with the author that there has been more than enough written from the non-Chinese and non-Singaporean point of view. I see this as a doctoral thesis in a university in which English is it's 3rd or 4th language, yet it is very easy to comprehend. It is also NOT BORING. Immigrants to Singapore have not always been voluntary, and the mixing of different dialects has been a real trial to the people. Educating such a mix has been a very difficult task. I do wish that this could be made into an audiobook with a narrator who is able to correctly pronounce the words and places that are unknown to many of us. I won this book in a LibraryThing Giveaway.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Tony Parsons

    Just a suggestion when you do a chronological order it should be from earliest to latest. This makes for some repetition in different categories that could be eliminated. Washington DC always gripes about how we lag behind in education compared to other countries. It’s not Rocket Science, no MIT stuff there. History was my undergrad, to this day I can’t get enough. It is really hard to find stuff about Asian culture. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could set education standards like the country you wro Just a suggestion when you do a chronological order it should be from earliest to latest. This makes for some repetition in different categories that could be eliminated. Washington DC always gripes about how we lag behind in education compared to other countries. It’s not Rocket Science, no MIT stuff there. History was my undergrad, to this day I can’t get enough. It is really hard to find stuff about Asian culture. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could set education standards like the country you wrote about! But just last week our idiot Governor cut the education spending again. I did not receive any type of compensation for reading & reviewing this book. While I receive free books from publishers & authors, I am under no obligation to write a positive review. Only an honest one. A very awesome book cover, great maps, illustrations, font & writing style. A very well written historical Asian culture book. It was very easy for me to read/follow from start/finish & never a dull moment. There were several grammar/typo errors (word spacing), but no repetitive or out of line sequence sentences. Lots of exciting scenarios, with several twists/turns & a great set of unique characters to keep track of. This could also make great Asian movie, animated cartoon, PP presentation or mini TV series (A & E, History channel). Fascinating. A very easy rating of 5 stars. Thank you for the free (Author; PDF) book Tony Parsons MSW (Washburn)

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sean Goh

    *Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review* In dire need of an editor. The writing is choppy, and feels like an out-of-control General Paper essay written in an attempt to get all the facts out within the 90 minute time limit. Urgh. Whatever learning I had was overshadowed by the difficulty of attempting to follow a threadbare narrative. (Don't take my review personally.) ___ Since education in English was the avenue to "sweatless livelihood", it had to be limi *Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review* In dire need of an editor. The writing is choppy, and feels like an out-of-control General Paper essay written in an attempt to get all the facts out within the 90 minute time limit. Urgh. Whatever learning I had was overshadowed by the difficulty of attempting to follow a threadbare narrative. (Don't take my review personally.) ___ Since education in English was the avenue to "sweatless livelihood", it had to be limited for economic and political reasons. And because children were expected to take up jobs where their parents worked, the school system mirrored colonial society in Singapore. Under Japanese rule, the Malays were utilised to carry out punitive measures against the hated Chinese (TIL). Weird phrasing: To mark their mark on educational history, 32% of students from the Chinese schools failed their examination. But it was the scholastic failures from the English schools who took center stage, since they made up an unbelievably defiant 66% of those who sat for the English-medium PSLE. (????) TL;DR: Chinese schools, 32% failed. English schools, 66% failed. (This is the first sentence I've had to read more than 3 times to understand, in my whole life.)

  10. 4 out of 5

    Yuuki Nakashima

    Although I'm Asian, I don't know much about Singapore, so this book educated me a lot. At the same time, it was a bit hard to understand the contents because of my lack of knowledge. I knew English and Chinese are spoken in Singapore, so I could imagine England and China would play an important role in this book. However, embarrassingly, I didn't know that my country, Japan, was involved in the history of Singapore. Chinese words are written with alphabets, so I thought it made the book harder to Although I'm Asian, I don't know much about Singapore, so this book educated me a lot. At the same time, it was a bit hard to understand the contents because of my lack of knowledge. I knew English and Chinese are spoken in Singapore, so I could imagine England and China would play an important role in this book. However, embarrassingly, I didn't know that my country, Japan, was involved in the history of Singapore. Chinese words are written with alphabets, so I thought it made the book harder to read at first. But it has a glossary that shows Chinese words with simplified Chinese characters. It was so helpful, at least, for me. I'm a Chinese leaner and interested in foreign languages, so I enjoyed the history of language in Singapore. *I received this book from the author for an honest review.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Ilonita50

    I received this book from Member Giveaway Group for honest review. Thank you very much. The book is a short version history of Singapore and the Chinese language education in schools. The book also gives a short dedication to Chinese used outside SG and the information jums in pretty good details. I am interested in languages so I found the information interesting. Author has done a great research for writing the book and knowing quite a lot about Singapore's history, I did enjoy to read history I received this book from Member Giveaway Group for honest review. Thank you very much. The book is a short version history of Singapore and the Chinese language education in schools. The book also gives a short dedication to Chinese used outside SG and the information jums in pretty good details. I am interested in languages so I found the information interesting. Author has done a great research for writing the book and knowing quite a lot about Singapore's history, I did enjoy to read history from Education perspective and learn new facts. The book gives great source of time and cultural development, conflict among the nationalities and education system and change. Great book. The book cover in my opinion could have been better as it hides the charm of actual content of it, although i can understand the idea.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Marilyn Stanley

    A very easy read. It was well-written and easy to follow. I thought it would be a dull educational-type book but much to my surprise it was very entertaining from all the way through. I highly recommend this book.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Lakesha Foster

    This book is somewhat good. The historical events that occur in this book was very impressive.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Pamela Harstad

    The book shows in detail the history and cultures affecting life and education in detail, including maps and statistics. I hadn't realized Singapore endured so many changes over time.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Anders

  16. 5 out of 5

    Julie Ann

  17. 4 out of 5

    Toshi

  18. 5 out of 5

    Viviana

  19. 5 out of 5

    Steve Woods

  20. 4 out of 5

    Aice Galon

  21. 4 out of 5

    Reyiel Ananke

  22. 4 out of 5

    Maya

  23. 5 out of 5

    Nayeli

  24. 5 out of 5

    Heru Laksono

  25. 5 out of 5

    Cyril Patrick Feerick

  26. 4 out of 5

    Sheffielder

  27. 5 out of 5

    Javyn Wong

  28. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Martin

  29. 4 out of 5

    Pratiik

  30. 5 out of 5

    Reading Reindeer Cobwebbed

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