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The Education System in Singapore
- The education system in Singapore has a good reputation.
- Parents need to register about a year in advance in order for their child to be able to attend preschool in Singapore.
- From kindergarten to junior colleges, the system offers pathways for all academic levels and interests.
- The type of secondary school a child attends will determine their career path — those who achieve A Levels attend university, while others may study at technical institutes.
The education system in Singapore aims to support the development of children’s strengths and social skills. All in all, Singapore’s students produce very good academic results and often pursue excellent careers. Still, the government is constantly working on reforms for the education system in Singapore to remain flexible and guarantee a high quality of education.
An Overview of Singapore’s Educational System
Singapore offers many different schools for all age groups and academic abilities, from primary up to college. There are different paths which lead to a university degree or a job. However, the first steps into the education system in Singapore usually start with preschool. Singaporean children attend preschool up to the age of six, getting prepared for primary school.
After six years of primary school, children move on to secondary school. The education system in Singapore allows students to choose a path at this point. They can decide whether they wish to attend a normal secondary school, a specialized school, an express school — which leads to the "O" Level in four years rather than the regular five years — or another school (such as a privately funded one), which offers a similar education. Post-secondary education usually takes between one and three years and offers a choice of schools, including junior colleges, polytechnics, and institutes of technical education.
Starting on the Right Foot: Early Years’ Education
Preschool education is an essential aspect of the education system in Singapore. It consists of one year of nursery and two years of kindergarten (although some institutions admit children at a much younger age). At preschool, children learn to develop basic language and writing skills, as well as social skills, creativity, and physical activities. At the same time, they will learn two languages (usually English and either Chinese, Malay, or Tamil).
Local kindergartens adhere to the school year as is observed all throughout Singapore — starting in January and ending in November, with a one-month summer break in June. They usually offer three or four hours of schooling per day.
Make sure to apply for your kid’s admission early on. Registration exercises usually take place in March or April for enrolment in the following year. You can contact childcare centers or kindergartens individually to learn more about their programs or admission requirements. Keep in mind that there is a slight difference between childcare centers and kindergartens. While the former are licensed by the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF), the latter are registered with the Ministry of Education (MOE).
If you want to make sure that your child receives the best preschool education the education system in Singapore has to offer, check if the kindergarten or childcare center of your choice is accredited according to the Singapore Pre-School Accreditation Framework (SPARK). The Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) has a list of accredited preschools. You should also check with your doctor in Singapore about which vaccinations your child needs to be accepted for enrolment.
Primary Education in Singapore
From the age of seven onwards, children attend a primary school, consisting of a four-year foundation course and a two-year orientation stage. The goal of this stage of the education system in Singapore is to teach children basic math skills, give them a good grasp of the English language, and to improve their knowledge of their mother tongue.
Primary schools vary greatly in terms of the educational program and extracurricular activities they offer. It is important to take a second look at your kid’s interests and see if the school of your choice matches these interests. Some schools focus on sports, others on arts, or social clubs.
Special Needs Schools
The education system in Singapore has a very high quality, but may leave some children who have special needs in the dust. This is why some schools put a special focus on children who feel out of place at a regular primary school. Most schools have experienced teachers who are capable of taking care of children with minor learning disabilities. However, there are around 20 designated schools that customize their curriculum for children who have physical or mental disabilities. That way, kids who do not benefit from mainstream education receive a viable alternative.
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