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An examination of lifelong learning policy rhetoric and practice in Singapore

Lifelong learning is now a recurring topic in national human resource, employment, entrepreneurship and educational reform discourse. In Singapore, the government urges citizens to be lifelong learners to enhance their employability and reminds them that lifelong learning is a survival strategy for the country. This paper presents and analyses Singapore’s rhetoric and initiatives on lifelong learning using an adaptation of Power and Maclean’s framework of lifelong learning, consisting of the following aspects: a basic human right for individual development and empowerment; a means to better employment prospects and higher income; a strategy for poverty alleviation or closing income gaps; an enabler for social benefits such as higher productivity and social capital; and a ‘master key’ for the achievement of national vision. The paper argues that while there are a considerable number of lifelong learning activities in the country, there is also a degree of eclecticism in its rhetoric and practice.