All in the name of geography – Part 1 Singapore.

Aug 25, 2016


At the end of July, 23 intrepid geographers set out to explore Singapore and Malaysia as part of the Geographical Association ISIG’s annual study tour. This was a great opportunity to travel with like-minded people, each with a common interest in geography, looking to experience new locations, broaden cultural awareness and develop contemporary resources for use back in the classroom.

The group benefitted from a dynamic mix across all sectors of education: the experience of the seasoned, well-travelled veteran fusing with the enthusiasm and keenness of youth. What is the collective noun for a group of geographers anyway? Perhaps not the deepest issue to arise during the tour but one that still requires an answer. We’re still working on it. Suggestions on a post card please.

Sampling Singapore’s streetfood

The first night in Singapore was a chance to relax after the long flight, renew old acquaintances, forge the beginnings of new friendships and of course sample some local culinary delights. Singaporeans are passionate about their food and a visit to one of the many vibrant hawker centres offers a bewildering choice of Chinese, Malay, Indian and western style fare. The most difficult decision is choosing what to have. Needless to say this wasn’t the only opportunity that arose to sample Singapore’s street food.

Investigating issues

3 days in Singapore allowed enough time to get to know the city and discover many of its nooks and crannies whilst also investigating some of the current issues facing the country. Singapore’s economic growth has been significant over the last 50 years and visits to the Urban Redevelopment Authority and the Housing Development Board provided an interesting insight into how the authorities have addressed the challenges presented by high unemployment, housing shortages and overcrowding, exacerbated by rapid population growth and limited land.

Housing Development Board flats in Punggol new town
Housing Development Board flats in Punggol new town

Meeting the growing demand for water

As population and economic growth continues, Singapore also faces a water dilemma. Whilst it currently receives plenty of rainfall, it is constrained by limited land space to store and collect water, a situation exacerbated by the uncertainty of weather patterns in the face of climate change. The Marina Barrage and Reservoir is just one example of a multi-purpose scheme in the heart of the city aimed at meeting the growing demand for water.

Marina Barrage and reservoir
Marina Barrage and reservoir

Alongside the Barrage is the Sustainable Singapore Gallery which considers Singapore’s efforts towards environmental sustainability and considers how a country with limited resources, meets the needs of a fast developing nation in an environmentally friendly manner.

Campaign to conserve water
Campaign to conserve water

Meeting the locals

There was also time to visit a local high school, meet with members of the geography department and observe some lessons. It was great to have a chance to make comparisons with the UK education system and chat about the issues facing teachers in Singapore.

Members of the GA tour meeting teachers from Serangoon Garden School
Members of the GA tour meeting teachers from Serangoon Garden School

Our time in Singapore came to an end as we journeyed across Johor Tuas 2nd Link into Malaysia. After some frustrating queuing at Singapore border control we were on our way. Find out how we got on and what we got up to in the next blog.