Guide to State Education | Education system in Singapore

Education | Lifestyle
by Bienu 30 September 2020

STATE EDUCATION: The bedrock for a bright future!  

The education system of Singapore is finest in the world, owing to their culture, education pattern, Government’s sharp focus, substantial budgetary allocation, first-class educational leadership and to top it all parental role in educating their child. Singapore would be an inspiration for other countries if they adopt their educational strategies and execute them efficiently.

Budgetary Focus

A closer look at the budget highlights would reveal the Government’s focus on education which spells that education is the bedrock for a bright future. Government to raise the number of government-supported pre-schools places from just over 50 per cent today to 80 per cent by 2025. Not only this, but it will also raise the income ceiling for the Additional Subsidy for pre-school and Kindergarten Fee Assistance Scheme (KiFAS) to $12,000 a month, and raise pre-school subsidies across all eligible income tiers. Ministry of Education’s (MOE) Financial Assistance Scheme for lower-income families to include raise in annual bursary amount for pre-university students from $900 to $1,000, and school meal subsidies for secondary school students, amongst others.

About 20 per cent of the annual national budget is allocated to education, which subsidies state education and government-assisted private education for Singaporean citizens and funds the Edusave programs. In near future, the government-supported pre-school places will be increased to 80 per cent by 2025, up from present just over 50 per cent.

Pre-Primary & Primary Education

In the primary to pre-university school years, education is already heavily subsidized, like primary school is free for all children, while the secondary school fee is $5 a month. Students pay only a few dollars in miscellaneous fees.

The Ministry of Education 

MOE manages education in Singapore, which controls the development and administration of state schools receiving taxpayers’ funding. It also has an advisory and supervisory role in respect of private schools. For both private and state schools, there are variations in the extent of autonomy in their curriculum, scope of taxpayers’ aid and funding, tuition burden on the students, and admission policy.

Education spending usually makes up about 20 per cent of the annual national budget, which subsidies state education and government-assisted private education for citizens and funds the Edusave program.

Education Compulsory

Attending primary school is compulsory from the age of six in Singapore. This is provided free of charge, and there are penalties for parents who do not comply. Child can be home schooled or even attend a religious institution, but this isn’t managed by MOE, and for this permission from the authorities is required.

English, Medium of Instruction

The main language of instruction in Singapore is English, which is learnt by most of the children by the time they reach preschool age and becomes the primary medium of instruction by the time they reach primary school. English is the language of instruction for nearly all subjects except the official mother tongue languages and the literature of those languages. These are generally not taught in English, although there is provision for the use of English at the initial stages. Malay, Mandarin and Tamil are official languages too.

SAP, Special Assistance Plan

Certain schools, such as secondary schools under the Special Assistance Plan (SAP), encourage a richer use of the mother tongue and may occasionally teach subjects in Mandarin Chinese. A few schools have been experimenting with curricula that integrate language subjects with mathematics and the sciences, using both English and a second language.

The education system in Singapore is consistently ranked as one of the highest in the world by the OECD*. It may be attributed to their style of teaching, where teachers focus on ensuring that each of their students thoroughly moves through the syllabus before moving on.

This enables teachers to impart a much more narrow but deeper education to children.

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