Education has always been one of the pillars of Singapore society.
As a nation whose only resource is its people, education in Singapore is taken very seriously. It is assuring to know that the quality of schooling here is among the best in the world – our system and textbooks have been adopted from and adapted by other countries.
Read more details on the Ministry of Education (MOE) website.
The local school year (below tertiary level) consists of four 10-week terms beginning on 2 January each year. There is a one-week vacation after the first and third terms, a four-week vacation at mid-year, and a six-week vacation at year-end.
Singapore’s public schools maintain high standards of teaching and learning. According to IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook 2011, Singapore was ranked among top 3 in the world for its educational system. Singapore was also ranked 1st in both Math and Science across 142 countries in World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report 2011/2012.
Our students have regularly excelled in international competitions such as debating and creative writing competitions, as well as mathematics and science Olympiads. In the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) 2007, Singapore students were ranked first at Primary 4 and Secondary 2 levels for Science. In Mathematics, Singapore students emerged second at Primary 4 and third at Secondary 2. Singapore schools were found to have excellent resources and facilities, well suited for Mathematics and Science instruction. Our schools also provide a safe and conducive environment for learning.
English is the medium of education in Singapore but one of the unique competitive advantages of the nation’s education system is its bilingual policy. In addition to learning English, students study their mother tongue at school, namely Malay, Mandarin or Tamil. This reinforces Singapore’s cosmopolitan position in the heart of Asia and entrenches the students in their cultural heritage.
Singapore’s public schools are becoming increasingly popular with foreigners due to their high standards. Most primary schools, secondary schools and junior colleges accept international students. MOE conducts an annual admissions exercise during September/October for new international students who wish to join public schools.
Over the years, Singapore’s education system has grown in diversity and depth. Today, there is a wide variety of educational pathways available, to meet individual needs and talents. These include the Singapore Sports School, School of the Arts and the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music.
International students who wish to study in a Singapore public school need to apply for a Student’s Pass unless they hold a Dependant’s Pass or an Immigration Exemption Order.
For more information on entry to public schools, click here.
Foreign-System and Private Schools
While Singapore’s public school system is comprehensive and upholds high standards, expatriates can also choose to send their children to private or foreign-system schools.
There are more than 30 foreign-system (or international) schools in Singapore. Such schools may offer an education pathway and curriculum that are similar to those in your home country. This is especially beneficial if your children have been educated in a language other than English. Each school has its own admission criteria.
Comprehensive information for international studentscan be found on the Ministry of Education (MOE) website here. A list of the foreign-system schools in Singapore can be found here. You can also check out a guide on international schools in Singapore which is exclusively available in the Contact Singapore members’ portal.
A recent development on the local school scene was the establishment of international schools by three of Singapore’s top schools - ACS International, Hwa Chong International and SJI International. The three schools offer secondary and post-secondary education, leading to the International Baccalaureate qualification which is recognised in Ivy League universities.
Institutes of Higher Learning
Singapore currently has four autonomous universities. They are the National University of Singapore (NUS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore Management University (SMU), and Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD). A graduate medical school, Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School Singapore, was also created through a partnership between Duke University School of Medicine and NUS to increase Singapore’s capacity to develop a vibrant biomedical hub.
Specialised institutions have also sprung up, both local and international. For instance, well-known business schools INSEAD, LASALLE College of the Arts and Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA) provide specialised education in the arts, the Digipen Institute of Technology focuses on world-class technology education.
In addition, polytechnics were also set up to train middle-level professionals, and the Institute of Technical Education was established as a post-secondary technical institution of excellence.
You may also choose to send your children to one of the over 300 private education institutions in Singapore. Private schools offer a large variety of courses, including language and professional programmes. When choosing a private school, do make sure it has proper accreditation. The CaseTrust for Education and Singapore Quality Class for Private Education Organisations are two hallmarks of quality implemented in Singapore.
For a list of the institutes of higher learning in Singapore, click here.
Pre-Schools and Kindergartens
Many parents in Singapore introduce their children to formal or partial education from a very young age. You will find a slew of centres catering to pre-school education, either by session or tied in with childcare services – often a necessity for households with two working parents. For a list of the preschools and kindergartens in Singapore, you may like to click here.
Special Needs Schools
Children with special needs obtain special education in Special Education (SPED) schools, run by Voluntary Welfare Organisations and funded by MOE and the National Council of Social Service, or other private and international schools.
SPED schools offer differentiated programmes for children who are unable to attend mainstream schooling. The curriculum aims to help these children become independent, self-sufficient and contributing members of society. Apart from classroom learning, the students also receive additional support from paramedical professionals.
For more information on special needs education in Singapore, click here.