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(Post-)Secondary Education in Singapore

The education system in Singapore aims at excellence for its students, offering various choices in preschool, primary, secondary, and post-secondary education. Even if your children attend private or international schools, it is worth taking a closer look at the public education system in Singapore.
Secondary and post-secondary education prepares children for university or the job market.

A More Focused Path: Secondary Education

At the age of 13, students will progress along a variety of different academic routes. Generally, students are placed either in Express courses, or in Normal academic or technical courses, according to their abilities. Secondary education in Singapore lasts about four to five years and usually includes the GCE.

The Express courses enable students to achieve their “O” Level in four years and to attend junior colleges or centralized institutes afterwards. Meanwhile students who take the normal academic or technical route will either have to take an extra fifth year to study the “O” Level, or will continue on to polytechnics or institutes of technical education instead. Co-curricular activities — activities involving clubs and societies, sports, visual and performing arts groups, and uniformed groups — are highly valued throughout secondary school and aim to promote skills that are valuable in the real world. Students are usually required to take part in at least one co-curricular activity.

Some schools also offer integrated programs which combine secondary school with pre-university education and end with a GCE “A” Level examination. These programs usually take between four and six years to complete. In addition, there are lots of specialized independent and private schools which offer their own programs and degrees. Some of them focus on specific talents of their students, in areas like science, math, arts, or sports.

School’s Out? Choosing to Stay at School Before Starting University or Beginning a Career

From the age of 17, students receive an education which prepares them for university or their professional life. Junior colleges and centralized institutes allow students to concentrate on different academic areas, such as math and science, or humanities and arts. These schools are preparatory for higher education and offer two-year or three-year programs, resulting in the GCE “A” Level examination.

Polytechnics, on the other hand, have the purpose of training middle-level professionals in technical and economic fields. Their education is a little more hands-on. The program ends with an advanced diploma. Graduates are valued as knowledgeable middle-level professionals and are sought after by different industries. Singapore’s institutes of technology education also equip students with the knowledge and skills necessary to work in the industry.

Covering the Costs: School Fees and Payment

The amount of school fees charged each month depends strongly on the type of school your child attends and on your residency status. Government primary schools, for instance, are free for citizens of Singapore. However, permanent residents and expats have to pay between 100 and 550 SGD in monthly tuition as of 2016 (not including other miscellaneous and examination fees). International and private schools usually charge much more than that, so make sure to keep this in mind when calculating your cost of living in Singapore.

Some institutions offer financial support to low-income families. However, financial aid as provided by the government is only available for Singaporean students. To find out about methods of payment at private and international schools you should get in touch with your child’s school directly. 


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

Donald Moore

"I moved to Singapore to build up my own business. In fact, it was easier than expected. With InterNations I quickly got in touch with the lively expat community here."

Barbara Sciera

"Settling as an expat woman in a different culture is always hard. But with InterNations I got to know many other expat spouses that helped me."

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