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The Secret of Singapore’s Success

Lee Kuan Yew’s achievements have been the subject of much global discussion since his recent death. But one aspect of his success has been little mentioned: the investments that he, and his successors, made in education.

SINGAPORE – Lee Kuan Yew’s achievements have been the subject of much global discussion since his recent death. But one aspect of his success has been little mentioned: the investments that he, and his successors, made in education. His strategy, he would often remark, was “to develop Singapore’s only available natural resource, its people.”

Today, Singapore routinely ranks among the top performers in educational attainment, as measured by the OECD’s Program for International Student Assessment (PISA). Moreover, though a city-state of just five million people, Singapore boasts two universities among the top 75 in the latest Times Higher Education World University Rankings, the same number as China, Japan, and Germany.

How did that happen? What did Lee Kuan Yew and Singapore do right?

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