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The Global Schoolhouse

Ryan Hahn's picture

72812469_aef46c3d4a_2Is it possible to buy oneself a place at the forefront of the knowledge economy? That is the question that Singapore’s Global Schoolhouse policy aims to answer. According to a recent article in International Higher Education, Singapore is perhaps the most “single-minded” of any country in its pursuit of achieving a knowledge-driven economy. Their strategy has been to attract foreign universities such as MIT, Johns Hopkins, and INSEAD to set up shop on the island. The government provides tax concessions and state of the art facilities in the hope of creating synergy between these institutions, leading researchers, and local companies. Singapore managed to do it before—after the Second World War, the government invited in foreign companies and capital, in contrast to many other former colonies. According to the prime minister, Singaporeans were “learning to do a job” from these companies. Now, it appears, they are learning to do even more than that. Other countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Romania, and Malaysia are trying to achieve something similar. All the unique qualities of Singapore notwithstanding, perhaps they can learn something from a country that went from a backwater colony to a regional hub of commerce and finance in two generations.

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