To learn about how the education system in Singapore operates and what its USP is, scroll through the article below.

Education System in Singapore

Ever since 1965, when Singapore became an independent republic, education has played a crucial role in its growth and development, making it one of the most popular cosmopolitan communities of the world. And in the recent years, the education system in Singapore with its flexibility and diversity has joined ranks with the existent leading education systems of the world and has emerged as a premier destination to pursue higher education in world-class universities with state-of-the-art infrastructure. It’s the availability of choice, as to what students want to learn, and providing it in a way that makes up for an all-round development and realization of full potential. And the school and university level qualifications that they earn is recognized and valued, not only in Asia, but the world across. Moreover, studying in a multicultural environment allows the students to cross boundaries and make friends with other students from different backgrounds. Continue reading to know more about the education system in Singapore.
Education System in Singapore
The schooling system in Singapore starts with pre-schooling and is offered by many kindergarten schools and childcare centers for children of age 3-6. A structured 3 year program is offered to prepare the children for the upcoming primary schooling. However, it is not compulsory for children to complete pre-schooling education before entering primary schools. The curriculum generally includes programs in English and a second language (generally the mother tongue). Activities which focus on verbal and oral skills, social skills; and other games, music, and outdoor play are also a part of pre-schooling.
Primary Education
The next stage is 6 years of compulsory primary schooling. Even children who haven’t completed or attended pre-schooling education are admitted into the schools from the age of 6. This six-year primary schooling has been divided into two parts: 4 years of foundation stage (Primary 1 to 4) and 2 years of orientation stage (Primary 5 to 6). The core curriculum for the foundation stage comprises of English, the mother tongue and mathematics, along with supplementary subjects such as music, art & craft, physical education and social studies. Science is included from Primary 3. At the end of 6th and final year of primary schooling, students have to sit in Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) that decides whether a student is ready to leave primary schooling.
Secondary Education
It is after successful passing of PSLE that students are allowed admission in secondary school education of 4 to 5 years. It’s the score in PSLE that will decide which stream of secondary education the student will join: Special & Express, or Normal. The Special & Express streams are of 4 years and prepare the students for the Singapore-Cambridge General Certificate of Education “Ordinary” level examination (GCE “O”). Students in Normal stream can either opt for 4 years Academic or Technical stream leading to Singapore-Cambridge General Certificate of Education “Normal” level examination, clearing up which will further lead the students to the 5th year and GCE “O” level examination. The subjects of secondary education include English, the mother tongue, mathematics, science and the humanities as core subjects. At the 3rd year of secondary education, students can opt for for elective subjects of their choice depending on the stream they are in.
Pre-University Education
2-3 years of pre-university education, 2 years through junior college or 3 years through a three-year centralized institute, is a must for a student who wants to pursue university degree. Students who’ve successfully cleared up GCE “O” examination are eligible to take up pre-university education. And at the end of the course, the students are required to sit in Singapore-Cambridge General Certificate of Education “Advanced” (GCE “A”). Languages, humanities & arts, and mathematics & sciences make up for the subjects.
Grading System
Most of the schools in Singapore follow a grading system that is awarded at the Singapore-Cambridge GCE “O” Level examination, with A1 being the highest and F9 being the lowest.
  • A1/A2 (Distinction)
  • B3/B4 (Merit)
  • C5/C6 (Credit/Pass)
  • D7 (passing at a lower standard in the exam or fail)
  • E8/F9 (Fail)
Higher Education
It is after successful completion of 2-3 years of pre-university education and passing of the GCE “O” level examination that admission to Singapore universities, for the bachelor courses, is allowed. International students who have an equivalent qualification of higher secondary education can apply for the course. The higher education studies in Singapore have further been divided into three parts:
Undergraduate Courses
The undergraduate courses (bachelor’s degree) in Singapore are of 3-4 years, depending upon the type of course and require passing certificate of CGE “O” level examination from Singapore or an equivalent qualification from an overseas country to be eligible for admission in a university.
Graduate Courses
The graduate courses (master’s degree) in Singapore are of 1-2 years, depending on the type of course and require the student’s to hold a bachelor’s degree from either Singapore universities or an equivalent qualification from an overseas country to be eligible for admission in a master’s course.
Doctoral Degrees
Doctoral degrees are the highest level of educational qualification awarded by Singapore universities. These degrees are of 3-4 years duration focusing on research on subject(s) studied at graduate level. Admission to Doctoral degree programs requires students to hold a master’s level degree of appropriate duration.
Apart from the traditional undergraduate and graduate courses, some universities also offer:
  • Double degree programs that are of 4-5 years of duration with the student graduating with two bachelor’s degrees instead of one.
  • Integrated programs that are of 4-5 years of duration with the students gaining a master’s degree at the end of the course.
  • Part time programs, non-graduating diploma programs/vocational programs are also offered by universities and institutions in Singapore.

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