Singapore’s Educational System

In terms of economic growth, Singapore is now one of the fastest developing developed countries. Its powerful and well-regarded educational system is one of the primary elements in its success. According to a recent survey, Singapore is the fourth best education system in the world.

The positive element of Singapore education is that the expense of education is kept under control in order to keep it cheap. It is made possible by substantial government financing, which accounts about 20% of Singapore’s national budget. Singapore has been a popular destination for overseas students due to its mix of world-class education at an affordable price.
A Quick Overview of Singapore’s Educational System
Singapore has the best schools, colleges, universities, and other educational institutions in the world. The education system in Singapore is divided into three categories:

  • Pre-Primary
  • Primary
  • Secondary
  • Pre-University
  • University

Pre-Primary Education

Playschool, Nursery, and Kindergarten are all part of pre-primary education. These schools are typically run by the private sector, which includes religious organizations, community foundations, and commercial organizations, among others.

Education at the Primary Level
Primary education is a mandatory education that often begins at the age of seven. It is the initial step toward formal education and lasts a total of six years. The primary stage of schooling is broken into two parts:

  • Primary 1 to 4 (total of 4 years) is the foundation stage.
  • Primary 5 and 6, total 2 years of orientation

Students must take the Primary School Leaving Exam (PSLE) after completing six years of primary school before continuing on to secondary school.

Secondary Education

A pupil is placed in one of four secondary education streams based on their PSLE merit ranking: Special, Express, Normal (Academic), or Normal (Technical).

Secondary education takes about 4-5 years to complete, following which students must sit for the Singaporean GCE ‘O’ Level exam. Students progress to pre-university study based on their exam results.

Pre-University Education

Junior colleges and polytechnics are two types of pre-university education.

Junior Colleges offer a pre-university 2-year junior college/3-year centralized institute education that leads to the GCE ‘A’ Level test. These colleges prepare students for university education by providing them with the essential skills and information.

Polytechnics provide three-year diploma programs in a variety of topics such as tourism, biotechnology, digital media, engineering, and business studies. All of these courses are hands-on and include a lot of group work.

University Education

Singapore has six national universities, namely the National University of Singapore, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore Management University, Singapore University of Technology & Design, Singapore Institute of Technology and SIM University. Only SIM University is a national private university, and it is the only one in Singapore.

Graduate, postgraduate, and doctorate programs in a variety of subjects make up University Education. The National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University are both among the world’s top 50 universities. Both of these universities are focused on research and thus attract a big number of research academics from throughout the world.

SIM University, a privately run institution, is Singapore’s only university dedicated solely to adult learners. Only working individuals can enroll in part-time degree programs at the university.

All of these Singapore institutions have collaborations with other top universities across the world to give students with increased learning opportunities, particularly in the realm of research.

International and Private Schools

Aside from government-funded public schools, Singapore has a number of private schools. These schools are not run by the local, state, or national governments; instead, they are run by private entities such as individuals, groups, trusts, or organizations. These schools do not receive government financing and instead rely on hefty tuition fees to cover all or part of their costs.

However, it should be emphasized that private schools in Singapore only operate at the secondary school level. As a result, passing the PSLE exam is required for admission to a private high school.

In addition to private schools, Singapore has a number of foreign schools that primarily serve the educational needs of the country’s huge immigrant population and do not accept local Singaporean pupils. The International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum is used at the majority of these schools. In addition to worldwide curricula, several international schools in Singapore offer national curricula tailored to the needs of pupils from a particular country.

A private or international school is significantly easier to get into than a government school. This is because Singaporean nationals are given priority in government schools, and hence spots for foreign kids are few. Immigrant students frequently have to wait a long time for admittance to a reputable government institution.

Monthly tuition rates in private and foreign schools are approximately ten times greater than those charged in government schools.

A Brief Overview of the Ministry of Education

The Ministry of Education (MOE), which is part of the Ministry of the Government of Singapore, is in charge of administering, implementing, and formulating policies for the whole education system in Singapore, from primary school to university education. Furthermore, the Ministry of Education constantly monitors the development and management of all public schools in the country, and supervises private and foreign-system institutions.

Singapore Education Policy


One of the basic principles of the Singaporean educational system is meritocracy. The most essential component in a student’s career is their academic performance, and the goal of meritocracy is to find and equip young intelligent students for various leadership positions throughout the country.

Bilingualism is the ability to communicate in more than one language (Mother Tongue)

Another major principle of Singapore’s educational system is bilingualism, or mother tongue policy. The first language is English, which is also the medium of teaching at academic institutions. Apart from English, students must take an obligatory mother tongue language as a topic, which can be any of the three official languages: Chinese, Malay, or Tamil. Non-Tamil Indians, on the other hand, may choose to speak Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Punjabi, or Urdu instead of Tamil.

This policy’s goal is to promote English as a Global Language while still allowing pupils to learn about their own cultural values.

Assistance with finances

In Singapore, education policy is designed to ensure that no child is denied access to a basic education due to financial constraints. MOE took a step in this direction by heavily subsidizing school fees at public schools. There are no school fees for the duration of primary education, and students are simply required to pay a small monthly charge to cover typical miscellaneous expenses.

Financial Assistance Scheme (FAS) and Edusave Merit Bursary (EMB) scholarships are also available from the Ministry of Education to meritorious students. The EMB scholarship is awarded to deserving students who achieve in their particular school’s academics.

Furthermore, institutions have their own financial support programs to assist students with financial problems during their studies.

Students at Singapore’s universities are prepared not only for today’s issues, but also for future challenges that have yet to be imagined and challenges that have yet to be anticipated.



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