Singapore education has a good reputation for supporting the young generation of the country in academic and carrier excellence while contributing to the children’s development of individual strengths and social skills. In this article, we take a close look at the education system of Singapore.
Usually, the education in Singapore starts in Kindergarten from the age of three to six which consists of one year of nursery and two years of kindergarten.
All the preschools are operated by private companies, charities or community groups and often charge a fee. The fee for the preschool may vary enormously depending on different factors and most of the times the best preschools are oversubscribed.
In Singapore, children attend preschool five days a week for 3-4 hours a day. The education in preschool is important for a child as its focus on basic language, writing, and social skills while establishing roots for good behaviour and attitude that a child will require to succeed in their primary education. During preschool education, a student will learn two languages (usually English and either Chinese, Malay, or Tamil).
When a child reaches the age of six, he or she should attend a primary school for his primary education. This is compulsory in Singapore education system and will charge penalties if the parents don’t comply. Usually, Singapore primary education lasts for six years, which splits into two stages as four years of foundation period, and two years of ‘orientation’ in order to prepare children for secondary education. The Singaporean government provides free education at this stage. The entire focus of primary education in Singapore is to improve students’ basic mathematic skills and their knowledge of their mother tongue while giving them a good command of the English language.
When selecting a primary school for their child, parents should pay attention to the extracurricular activities the school offers, as many Singaporean primary schools focus majorly on one interest such as sports, art, and social clubs...etc and find a one that matches with their child’s interests. However educational curriculum is the same for all the primary schools.
A child may also choose a private or international school to complete his or her primary education where you’ll have to pay a fee. For those parents who like to home-school or have their child attend a religious institution which isn't managed by the ministry of education, you have to apply for permission of authorities.
The primary education ends with a primary school leaving examination or PSLE which the students have to pass in order to proceed their secondary education in the track or the stream they are interested in pursuing.
Secondary education in Singapore based on 4 tracks as,
- Integrated Programme
- Normal (Academic)
- Normal (Technical)
The compulsory stage of secondary school lasts for four to five years depending on the track you are following. The special and express tracks are comprised of 4-year programs which ends with Cambridge GCE O Levels. Children who follow normal streams will have to go through a 5-year programme that leads to the same destination via N Levels depending on the curriculum they follow- academic or technical. In this test, students will have to take at least 6 subjects and the success of the student measured by a grading system. A1 is the highest grade a student can obtain while F9 is the lowest.
Secondary school grades
- A1/A2 (Distinction)
- B3/B4 (Merit)
- C5/C6 (Credit/Pass)
- D7/E8/F9 (Below O Level Pass)
You will require at least C6 grade and above for academic subjects to receive a School Graduation Certificate (SGC). 'O' Level certificates will receive by those who above E8.
Important - Usually, there are two semesters in schools in Singapore, first from January to May, second from July until a break in November and December. A short break is included in the middle and end of each semester.
However, in private and international schools, you will see a semester system followed by the western standard calendar, with a long summer break and several weeks’ break at Christmas.
Students who obtained good grades in O level examination can continue to pre-university education or junior college. You can choose your pre-university education which is usually a two to three years programme in a public school or a private school. Whether you are attending a private or a public school at this stage you will have to pay a monthly fee. There are scholarships and subsidies programmes offered by the government to help the student with impressive academic performance and low family income. The college education or pre-university education is based on a curriculum specifically tailored to the university the student wishes to attend to with the aim to increase his chances of getting accepted by his preferred university.
The alternative to pre-university education in Singapore is vocational education where a vocational training is provided by a technical institute or polytechnic. There is an extensive range of vocational training institutes in Singapore specialized in different programmes in different fields which you can learn more by visiting the official website of the ministry of education in Singapore.
In Singapore, there are many universities that are public, national, private, as well as branches of foreign tertiary institutions which are up to the world-class standards. The duration of the programmes and curriculums may vary between institutions. Here the students can undertake study in post-undergraduate and postgraduate levels across most general fields of study.
Special need schools
Singapore has a very high-quality education system where no child with special needs is left out. There are experienced teachers in most of the schools who can take care of children with minor disabilities while there are around 20 schools across the country specially established to give a better future for the children with physical and mental disabilities with a special curriculum. Thus, kids who do not benefit from mainstream education has a good alternative.