How much do you know about the education system in Singapore?
4 de March de 2024

If there’s one thing we love to do on this blog, it’s to analyse different educational systems around the world, especially those that enjoy the most success and recognition. In this week’s post, we’re going to take a look at how the education system in Singapore works, and we’ll analyse its main pillars that make this system one of the most well-known around the world.

And don’t miss out on other posts we’ve made on the same theme on our blog: South Korea’s education system, Estonia’s education system, or United States’ education system.

Image by Irene K on Pexels

What is the education system like in Singapore and what are its characteristics?

Organization of the education system in Singapore

In Singapore, the education system is organised into three stages: Preschool, Primary, and Secondary. Here are some details of each stage:

  • Preschool Stage: This type of education is given between the ages of 4 and 6 and is optional. In this stage, the development of basic social and cognitive skills is sought.
  • Primary Stage: Starting at age 6, the primary stage begins, which is compulsory for all children and lasts for 6 years. In this stage, various subjects such as mathematics, language, and social sciences are studied, among others. At the end of the primary stage, students take an exam, the PSLE (Primary School Leaving Examination), which determines the further studies they will pursue.
  • Secondary Stage: The secondary stage begins at the age of 12 and is voluntary, so a student can decide to drop out if they wish. Depending on the results of the PSLE, there are several paths to follow in this stage, determining its total duration, which can be between four to six years.
School year in SingaporeAgesEquivalent in SpainEquivalent in France
Primary 16-7 years1st of primaryPreparatory
Primary 27-8 years2nd of primaryElementary 1
Primary 38-9 years3rd of primaryElementary 2
Primary 49-10 years4th of primaryMiddle 1
Primary 510-11 years5th of primaryMiddle 2
Primary 611-12 years6th of primarySixième (Collège)
Secondary 112-13 years1st of ESOCinquième (Collège)
Secondary 213-14 years2nd of ESOQuatrième (Collège)
Secondary 314-15 years3rd of ESOTroisième (Collège)
Secondary 415-16 years4th of ESOSecondé (Lycée)

This is how their school year works

In the education system in Singapore, the school year begins in January and ends in November. It is divided into two semesters, with four vacation periods. Semesters usually have about 13 weeks of classes.

As for the school day, students usually start classes around 7:45 in the morning and typically study for about 5 to 6 hours per day, depending on the educational stage.

Image by Stanley Morales on Pexels

The 5 pillars of the education system in Singapore

Now that we’ve seen the different characteristics and stages of the Singaporean education system, let’s look at the 5 main pillars on which it is based:

  1. Importance of bilingualism

In Singapore, learning English is considered very important, which is why English is studied as the first language in school, regardless of the student’s mother tongue. This aims to prepare students for a globalised world with English as the main language, increasing their competitiveness in the job market.

  1. Training and selection of teachers are essential

In the Singaporean education system, the role of teachers in student development is highly valued, which is why the government invests heavily in their training and selection to achieve national education goals.

Thus, the teaching profession enjoys a lot of prestige, and high standards are expected of teachers. They undergo annual evaluations, and their performance is measured to offer economic bonuses to those who have progressed positively. Those who need it are offered training to continue having the best professionals in the country.

  1. Education: an essential pillar of society

Since its independence in 1945, education in Singapore has been seen as a fundamental pillar for the optimal development of the country. Therefore, it is an area that receives strong government investments, and constant work is done to improve it.

  1. Vocational training is very important

Unlike in other countries, vocational training in Singapore is seen as essential for society, as it prepares future professionals in technical sectors that will help develop the country.

It is worth noting that vocational training refers to technical careers or what would be considered engineering in Spain. There, higher education refers to business or law degrees.

  1. Importance of official exams

At the end of primary and secondary stages, students take exams that determine their future, such as the PSLE, which is the primary stage exam. Therefore, great importance is given to the official exams they take, as their academic and professional future depends on their results.

Students with higher grades will be able to access better schools and universities.

Image by benzoix on Freepik

What did you think the education system in Singapore was like?

Before reading the post, you probably imagined the education system in Singapore in a certain way. Now that you’ve read the post, did you imagine it like this? Do you consider it a rigid and strict system? How do you see the role of the teacher there?

Visit our social networks and tell us which other countries’ educational systems you would like to learn about: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube.

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