On Education » Singapore

Education in Singapore

Population: 4.6 million people

Literacy Rate: 92.5 %

GNP: USD 27,490 per capita

Human Development Index: 0.92

Singapore School Distribution:

  • 173 Primary Schools 50,000 Students/Level.
  • 160 Secondary Schools 40,000 Students/Level.
  • 18 Junior Colleges 15,000 Students/Level.
  • 5 Polytechnics 20,000 Students/Level.
  • 15 ITE Campuses 12,000 student/Level.

Teachers Distribution:

  • Primary Schools 12,638 (24 Students/Teacher)
  • Secondary Schools 10,854 (15 Students/Teacher)
  • JCs 2,380 (12 Students/Teacher)

Singapore Academic Year starts from January to end in November.

In 2000 the Parliament of Singapore passed the Compulsory Education Act,[2] which codified compulsory education for children of elementary school age, and made it a criminal offence if parents fail to enroll their children in school and ensure their regular attendance. School System starts from Kindergartens, Primary education, Secondary education, Pre-university (Junior Colleges) or Diploma and vocational education and Universities Level.

Kindergartens in Singapore provide up to three years of pre-school for children ages three to six. The three years are commonly called Nursery, Kindergarten 1 (K1) and Kindergarten 2 (K2), respectively.

Primary education is a four-year foundation stage (Primary 1 to 4) and a two-year orientation stage (Primary 5 to 6). Primary education is free, though there is a fee of up to SGD 13 monthly per student that goes to the school to help cover miscellaneous costs. At the end of Primary 6, the national Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) is held. The examination determines whether the student is ready to leave primary school by passing; however the primary purpose of the examination is to eventually allocate places in secondary schools to students based on their performance in the examination.

Based on results of the PSLE, students are placed in different secondary education tracks or streams: "Special", "Express", "Normal (Academic)", or "Normal (Technical)". Both Special and Express are four-year courses leading up to a Singapore-Cambridge General Certificate of Education Ordinary-level (O-level) exam. The difference between Special and Express is that the former's native language —the mother tongue — are taught at a higher level as Higher Mother Tongue, and are thus more difficult.

Upon completion of the 4 or 5-year secondary school education, students (excluding of IP students) will participate in the annual Singaporean GCE 'O' Level, which will then determine their aptitude and the pre-universities or post-secondary institutions they are able to be admitted into. Pre-university centres include junior colleges for a two-year course leading up to GCE 'A' level.

Polytechnics in Singapore provide 3-year diploma courses and, they accept students based on their GCE "O" level, GCE "A" level or Institute of Technical Education (ITE) results.

There are currently four universities in Singapore. The two public universities National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University each has more than 20,000 students and they provide a wide range of undergraduate and postgraduate degree programmes including doctoral degrees. Both are also established research universities with thousands of research staff and graduate students. A third university Singapore Management University (SMU) opened in 2000 focusing on business and management courses. Although it is a private university, it is funded by the government. The forth university, privately-run SIM University (UniSIM), opened in 2006.

Education in Singapore is managed by Ministry of Education (MOE), which directs education policy. The ministry controls the development and administration of public schools which receive government funding but also has an advisory and supervisory role to private schools.


Updated On: 15.05.09