December 6, 2023

Navigating Singapore’s Education System: A Parent’s Guide

  • September 30, 2023
Navigating Singapore’s Education System:  A Parent’s Guide

The school system or education in Singapore has regularly been rated as one of the best in the world. According to The Economist, Singapore had “few friends and even fewer natural resources” in 1965, when it declared independence. So, how did it become one of the most significant financial and economic centres worldwide? It is because of the excellent education system and career opportunities in Singapore. You may get critical information regarding the education system in Singapore from this page. Reading it is beneficial for parents and teachers

Singapore’s Educational Stages

Education in Singapore is fundamentally based on the Western model. For a modest charge, all pupils attend public schools. Students are placed in various programs using a “streaming” method based on their academic skills.

Students in Year 6 will take the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) to test their fundamental scientific, literary, and arithmetic abilities. The first big challenge a student must overcome in Singapore’s educational system is this test.

The student is divided into three streams based on the PSLE results:

  • Express Stream (For quick and motivated learners)
  • Normal – Academic (for scoring in the middle)
  • Normal – Technical (for those with a technical area of expertise)

Students who are 16 years old must take their O-level examinations in Singapore schools in their final years of high school. Their final exam will determine which graduate college they are entitled to enrol in.

Generally speaking, junior colleges are the shortest path to a university. Conversely, polytechnics and the Institute for Technological Education offer better routes to vocational professions.  The student’s interests and academic achievement influence the next step at every stage. Here, further training and private instruction are crucial. Providers like Easylore contribute to ensuring that no student is left behind.

In Singapore, how significant is academic achievement?

Academic accomplishment is crucial for excellent career opportunities in Singapore. However, adopting a comprehensive approach to learning is clearly needed. Academic achievement must be emphasised, but not at the price of a student’s self-awareness, resiliency, and character growth. The kind of informed and responsible global citizen Singapore seeks to foster requires all these attributes.

To ensure that our kids develop into resilient, healthy adults, the Ministry of Education (MOE) states the desired outcomes of education.

Curriculum, Instruction, And Syllabus

The MOE oversees the curriculum and syllabus for the Cambridge IGCSE equivalent PSLE, GCE O, N, and A-Levels. Core disciplines like maths and physics get the most attention since they are the most useful and in demand by businesses.

As a result, rather than just dumping copious quantities of irrelevant knowledge, the curriculum encourages the depth and quality of the subject matter taught.

Instead of becoming sucked into the many levels of comprehension, teachers in Singapore schools assist students in finding the right solution. They meticulously align their instruction with manuals, assessments, and exam requirements. Private tutors are used by students who fall short of this threshold to fill up knowledge gaps.

In contrast to many Western school systems, the Singaporean educational system has maintained chiefly a hierarchical and top-down teaching style. Courses are often structured and well-organized, and professors continue to take up the majority of speaking time.

Additionally, teachers now have more freedom in deciding whether to use Western, Eastern or a blend of both approaches to instruct their students. Their method is founded on a society that places a high priority on education.

Parents make significant efforts to encourage their child’s learning as a result. Success in school is prioritised, cherished, and celebrated in their eyes. This desire for academic excellence is a critical factor in the popularity of online tuition and classes.

Holistic Education

Every government school run by the Ministry of Education is under strict orders to promote holistic education. As part of the Smart Country project, all Singapore schools have moved towards a comprehensive strategy that converts them into 21st-century smart classrooms. Students in Singapore are evaluated on their inherent character attributes, such as courtesy, respect, responsibility, toughness, honesty, teamwork, and academic performance. A child’s innate leadership abilities are evident when raised in a supportive home. A youngster learns to love people, to have a good attitude in life, and to be polite and compassionate to the needy in this environment. Parents and teachers must consider each child’s learner profile and innate abilities and mannerisms when acquiring new information.

A Detailed View Of The Educational Stages

The elementary education in Singapore lasts six years, the secondary education lasts four to five years, and the post-secondary education lasts one to three years.


  • The Singapore Ministry of Education and private companies provide preschool services voluntarily.
  • The workplaces of the parents frequently house these nursery facilities. Even dropping by to bring the minor child out to lunch. The fact that the parents are constantly accessible gives the youngster a sense of security and comfort.
  • Although many private facilities encourage brain development in infants as young as 18 months, the Singapore Education System formally begins at age five. Children are divided into little playgroups, which they quickly refer to as Nursery N1 for children under five and N2 for those over six.
  • Children are cared for, cherished, and nurtured daily with encouragement and empowerment in a nursery where they are treated like plants. Children are exposed to social play to help them become skilled communicators when they engage with their classmates and trade toys and treats.

K1 and K2 follow N2 in kindergarten. At these levels, students get skill-based instruction in things like counting, counting strategies, motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and story-reading approaches. Government and private institutions shall create lesson plans and worksheets in accordance with the MOE’s prescribed curriculum.

Primary Schooling 

Primary education is required and begins at age seven.

A child’s capacity for cognitive change and learning new things is pliable and fluid before age seven. The temperament and habits of a youngster begin to rigidify at the age of seven. However, educators make a concerted effort to foster a growth mindset for lifelong learning to benefit both the kid and society.

Six years are required for primary education in government schools. For public schools, it is divided into:

  • Primary 1 and 2 in the lower block, Primary 3 and 4 in the middle block, and Primary 5 and 6 in the upper block.
  • Term use in international schools ranges from Grades 7 to 12.

After six years of education, students take the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) to choose which secondary school they will attend.

Secondary Schooling

O-Level and Integrated are the two programs that make up Express. The 4-year GCE O-Level programme culminates with the GCE O-Level exam. The integrated programme is a 6-year study that leads to an NUS High School Diploma, an International Baccalaureate Diploma, or the GCE test at the A-Level Examination. The GCE O-Level test is not required for Integrated Programme participants in Secondary 4.

At the upper secondary level, Express students must complete the following primary subjects:

  • British English
  • The language of origin
  • Higher Mother Tongue
  • Mathematics
  • Elementary
  • Additional Science
  • Pure science
  • Physics, Chemistry, and Biology
  • Options and science  and Electives
  • (Physics and Chemistry or Biology and Chemistry) Combined Science
  • Home economics, art, or design and technology
  • Humanities
  • Pure history, geography, and literature
  • Humanities combined (social studies, geography, or history)

Fundamentals of Accounting

All of these classes will be offered during the first two years of secondary school to students in Secondary 1 and Secondary 2. The streaming procedure then starts after that.

After their secondary school, students will pass either the GCE O or N examinations. They will then choose their course of action. Depending on their interests, talents, and learning objectives, your kid can:

  • Enrol in a 2-3 year International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme programme at a junior college or Millennium Institute.
  • Attempt the GCE A-Level test
  • Attend a two- to three-year ITE National Certificate Programme (INITE)
  • Visit a polytechnic school.

The country’s policy-making in the context of education in Singapore has changed as necessary; its teachers are highly appreciated, and its students do better on standardised tests than in wealthy nations.

However, Singapore must not get complacent. There are always new challenges to be solved and more creative, efficient methods of doing things. For instance, as online education develops over the next five to ten years, the arrival of the metaverse will change it. Singapore had a modest beginning, but through years of visionary leadership, perseverance, and discipline, it has developed into a country bursting at the seams with talent and human capital. Children entering the Singaporean educational system are in excellent hands if parents and tuition providers assist them appropriately.

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