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The rapid development and significant achievements of the Republic of Singapore constantly attract the attention of researchers from around the world. The study of Singapore’s experience in the field of education and science undoubtedly deserves close attention, since the general principles of training the intellectual elite are nevertheless distinguished by their peculiarities. The article examines the impact of meritocracy on the training of the national elite, as well as the peculiarities of meritocratic trends in Singapore.
Keywords: Singapore, meritocracy, meritocratic trends.

Chikharina K. I.
PhD student of the third (educational and scientific) level of higher education,
H. S. Skovoroda Kharkiv National Pedagogical University, Kharkiv, Ukraine


In the contemporary philosophical and political discourse, the concept of “meritocracy” and the principles of implementing meritocratic tendencies in practice are often considered on the examples of the United States, China, and Singapore. An assessment of the overall situation helps us to understand that these countries are indeed successfully implementing a meritocratic approach in the selection of managers to the state apparatus and the appointment of candidates for leadership positions. Meritocratic tendencies do indeed occupy a special place in the process of training the intellectual elite in Singapore, and the Republic of Singapore remains one of the most successful examples of their implementation, so the study of this issue is relevant and important for the development of the Ukrainian education system.

The purpose of the article is to analyze the essence of meritocracy and the experience of its implementation in the upbringing of young people from the standpoint of the possibility of its application in the Ukrainian education system.

In translation, the concept of “meritocracy” can be interpreted as “the power of the worthy” or “the power of the most gifted” (from Latin meritus – worthy and Greek κρατος – power, rule). Meritocracy is an elitist concept that exalts the principle of personal achievement and individual merit in various spheres of social life. According to this concept, only gifted, capable and qualified individuals endowed with high intellectual qualities and special abilities have the opportunity to hold higher positions. Origin and material wealth cannot influence the appointment of persons or in any way stimulate career advancement [2].

According to supporters of meritocratic tendencies, meritocracy originates from the classical principle of liberalism. The term “meritocracy” was coined in 1954 by the German-American philosopher and political scientist H. Arendt [5]. At first, the concept used had a negative connotation, and was used as a synonym for oligarchy based on talent and personal qualities. According to some sources, the founder of the concept of “meritocracy” is the English sociologist M. Young [7].

It was he who in his work “The Rise of Meritocracy: 1870-2033”, which was published in 1958, outlined the main ideas of the concept. The concept of “meritocracy” in this dystopia is also mentioned with a pejorative connotation. According to Young, we are witnessing the transition of a capitalist society to a meritocratic system in which truly gifted and capable people are given the opportunity to hold certain positions. The sociologist describes a futuristic society in which intelligence and personal virtues determine one’s social position. In the work, this system causes revolutionary movements that result in the removal of the ruling elite from power [7].

Later, American and Western European thought continued to develop M. Young’s ideas, which, in particular, were embodied in the theory of post-industrial society, formulated by the American sociologist D. Bell. It was he who, in his book The Future Post-Industrial Society, noted that the social structure of society can be changed under the influence of meritocratic trends, and bureaucracy can be pushed aside [6]. The researcher emphasized that it is intellectual abilities, education, and qualifications that should determine a person’s belonging to the relevant class. In addition, we can find works on this topic in the scientific works of J. Galbraith, Z. Brzezinski, R. Aron, and others. Ukrainian scholars have also studied this issue, including: I. Lopushynsky, Y. Bardachov, O. Hnedash, S. Gazaryan, O. Nosyk, T. Orlova, and others.

Despite the fact that the meritocratic concept can be a source of certain social inequalities and discrimination, the intellectual elite of the 21st century still tends to implement it. Singapore is no exception. There is a tendency to move towards a social welfare created by a true intellectual elite, gifted and well-rounded citizens. The desire to succeed and achieve goals with one’s knowledge becomes a source of healthy competition. And such conditions reinforce the foundation on the way to the society of intelligence [4]. This opinion is also shared by the theorist of the “third wave” of society development E. Toffler [3]. He insists that the successful future of world politics and the development of all spheres of social life will be ensured by those who have a wide range of knowledge, skills and abilities. It is this stratum of society that will make up the “new class” that will oppose the “second wave” managers.

The state of Singapore is built on the traditions of meritocracy, which is aimed at building and maintaining a successful socio-economic system.

Singapore’s education system reflects the country’s economic goals and works in synthesis with them. Singaporeans are taught from a young age how to interact with this system and be successful. The entire education system is permeated with a large number of tests and inspections. A rigorous assessment system is present at every stage of education and is designed to clearly identify the most capable students, giving them the opportunity to choose their future educational path. Despite a large amount of criticism about the extremely dense and extensive assessment system, the state is confident that this approach to knowledge assessment and student selection makes it possible to optimize the learning process as a whole. Students are given the opportunity to learn and acquire the knowledge and skills that match their abilities.

Singapore’s education philosophy supports the idea of holistic, holistic education. It is this kind of education that can raise a citizen with a holistic worldview, strong fundamental knowledge and skills. Children are active participants in the learning process, and much attention is paid to analysis skills and the ability to debate. These methods help citizens prepare for the next stage of their lives.

As for the selection of persons for the civil service, Singapore has a Public Service Commission for the selection of personnel. This commission consists of professionals who have never held administrative or political positions. The Commission is engaged in the recruitment of personnel for government positions, considers their further promotion, assumes disciplinary control over civil servants, and is responsible for managing the Singapore Government Fellowship Program [1].

It is important to note that the main source of recruitment for senior management positions in the Republic of Singapore is government scholarships. Scholarship holders are selected based on two main requirements: the applicant must be among the top one percent of graduates and possess management competencies.

It should be added that to promote civil servants to higher positions, a performance evaluation system has been introduced, one of the components of which is self-assessment of their own performance. In addition, a qualitative assessment of each candidate’s performance and an assessment of each individual’s potential are conducted.

Thus, impartial evaluation, a transparent career ladder system, absence of corruption, constructive selection of personnel, and a desire to achieve the goal with one’s own abilities and intelligence have become the key paths to the establishment of meritocratic trends in Singapore. The younger generation seeks to improve their skills, develop themselves and confidently build the future of their country on the basis of meritocracy.

List of references

1. Arsentiev M. The Concept of Meritocracy in Modern Philosophical and Political Discourse. Totallogy-XXI. Postnonclassical studies: a scientific collection / Center for Humanitarian Education of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. Kyiv, 2017. Issue 34. С. 193-204.
2. Political Science Dictionary: a textbook for students of higher educational institutions / edited by M. F. Holovaty, O. V. Antoniuk. Kyiv: IAPM, 2005. 792 с.
3. Toffler E. The Third Wave / translated from English by A. Eves. Kyiv: Vsesvit Publishing House, 2000. 480 с.
4. Chikharina K. The phenomenon of the “intellectual elite of the nation” in the context of modern globalization processes. Psychological and Pedagogical Problems of Higher and Secondary Education in the Context of Modern Challenges: Theory and Practice: in. VI International Scientific and Practical Conference, H. S. Skovoroda Kharkiv National Pedagogical University, May 20-21, 2022: KNPU, 2022. С. 464-467.
5. Arendt, H. The Crisis in Education. 1954. URL: https://thi.ucsc.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Arendt-Crisis_In_Education-1954.pdf (accessed October 15, 2022).
6. Bell D. The Coming of Post-Industrial Society. A Venture in Social Forecasting. New York: Basic Books, 1973.
7. Young M. The Rise of the Meritocracy 1870-2033: an Essay on Education and Society. London: Thames and Hudson, 1958. P. 367-382.