Singapore has a strong education system which is recognised around the world. We have good schools, with capable school leaders and teachers, and facilities that are amongst the best in the world.
Education is compulsory for every child and the government emphasizes on formal education for every Singapore child. Most children in Singapore attend national schools that abide by a broad-based public education system. English is the first language learned by half the children by the time they reach preschool age and becomes the primary medium of instruction by the time they reach primary school. For foreign students living in Singapore, there are many international and foreign schools where the systems are suited and revolved around the countries of origin. Contact your country’s embassy for further assistance.
The school year is divided into two semesters. The first begins in the beginning of January and ends in May; the second begins in July and ends in November.
Primary School Education
Primary education, normally starting at age seven, is a four-year foundation stage (Primary 1 to 4) and a two-year orientation stage (Primary 5 to 6). After six years of Primary education, students will have to sit for the national Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE). Students will then choose the secondary school of their choice based on their results at this examination; they will then be assigned to a secondary school based on merit and their choice.
Secondary School Education
Students are placed in different secondary education tracks or streams: “Special”, “Express”, “Normal (Academic)”, or “Normal (Technical)” based on results of the PSLE. In secondary school, students go through a 4-5 years of education and sit for the National examination: GCE ‘O’ Levels (for Special / Express courses) or GCE ‘N’ Levels (for Normal course).
After the secondary level, students will select whether to go:
- Technical (ITE) or commercial institutes (MDIS, MIS, TMC, SIM)
- Polytechnics (Nanyang, Temasek, Ngee Ann, Singapore Polytechnic) to pursue diploma courses
- Pre-university centres or junior colleges to prepare for the Senior Cambridge General Certificate of Education ’Advanced’ (GCE ’A’) level examinations and later on tertiary 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.
The National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University each have more than 30,000 students and 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. As of 2012, both universities are ranked among the Top 50 in the world.