The Education in Singapore reference article from the English Wikipedia on 24-Apr-2004
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Education in Singapore

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The education system in Singapore is spear-headed by the Ministry of Education (MOE) who directs the formulation and implementation of education policies. It controls the development and administration of Government and Government-aided education institutions, but plays a consultancy / supervisory role with respect to private or independent schools.

Children with disabilities are educated in special education (SPED) schools run by Voluntary Welfare Organisations, and partially funded by MOE.

As of Jan 2003, it is written into law by the Compulsory Education Act that a child of compulsory school age shall start, and attend regularly as a pupil at (at least) a national primary school, failing which, each parent of the child shall be guilty of an offence.

In Singapore, English is the medium of instruction in subjects like Mathematics, Science (Physics, Chemistry, Biology), and others where appropriate. As envisioned by Lee Kuan Yew, English is the language to link Singapore to the world, and all races domestically (some say Singlish). The mother tongue (in other words, Chinese for the Ethnic Chinese, Malay for the Malayss, Tamil for the Indians), on the other hand is cultural and for a sense of identity, and no ethnic group is forced to learn the language of another.

Table of contents
1 Shortcomings
2 Primary Education
3 Secondary Education
4 Post-Secondary Education
5 University Education


Critics of the education system say that the education system is too broad-based and too stressful, and does not place emphasis on creative thinking, like the education systems in other countries like the United States. On the other hand, Singaporean students have topped international science and mathematics quizzes regularly, along with South Korean students.

Singaporean students are also "poor" at the English language: a study showed that the vast majority of a test group of junior college students (typically 17-18 years of age) wrote poorly. They have also traditionally fared worse than US students at the [SAT] in the Verbal scores (although faring better at the Mathematics section and in the average score).

Primary Education

Primary education consists of a four-year foundation stage from Primary 1 to 4 and a two-year orientation stage from Primary 5 to 6. Primary education is free, though there is a miscellaneous fee of up to S$1010 monthly that goes to the respective school, to help cover the cost of equipment and special programmes for the benefit of the pupils.

Foundation Stage

The foundation stage is the first stage of formal schooling. The four years, from Primary 1 to 4, will provide a firm foundation in the English Language, the Mother Tongue (Chinese, Malay or Tamil) and Mathematics. Other subjects like Civics & Moral Education, Science, Social Studies, Art & Crafts, Music, Health Education and Physical Education lessons which will be taught throughout Primary 1 to 6.

Orientation Stage

At the end of Primary 4, students will be classified into EM1, EM2 or EM3 language streams for their two-year orientation stage, Primary 5 and 6. The curriculum in each stream (the difference being difficulty of the languages; English and Mother Tongue) will gear a student towards secondary education in the course most suited for him. At the end of Primary 6, the national PSLE (Primary School Leaving Examination) will be held.

Secondary Education

Based on results of the PSLE, students undergo secondary education in either the Special, Express or Normal course.

Both Special and Express are 4-year courses leading up to a Singapore-Cambridge General Certificate of Education (GCE) 'Ordinary' - 'O' level examination. The difference between Special and Express is that the former's mother tongue language (English and Mother Tongue) are taught at a higher level (more difficult).

Normal is a 4-year course leading up to a Singapore-Cambridge GCE 'Normal' - 'N' level examination, with the possiblity of a 5th year followed by a Singapore-Cambridge GCE 'Ordinary' - 'O' level examination.

After the second year of a secondary school course, students are typically offered from a range of six to ten subjects for the 'O' level examinations by examination results. This includes science, humanities and a mathematics subject at a higher level, or "combined" subject modules.

Post-Secondary Education

Junior College


Pre-U Centre

Institute of Technical Education

University Education

List of universities in Singapore