Singapore’s public and private education systems and international schools are outstanding, making Singapore an education hub for the region. While most expatriates choose to enroll their children in private international schools, public schools are a viable option for those who do not wish to pay hefty school fees.
Singapore’s public education consists of a compulsory 6 years of primary education and 4 years of encouraged secondary education. Most children make it past this 10 years of education to obtain a Cambridge certified ‘O’ level or ‘N’ level. From then on, they are free to choose whether to attend a junior college (JC), where they will complete the Cambridge certified ‘A’ level, and typically go on to university study. Alternatively, O- and N-level students may attend a polytechnic, where they can obtain diplomas in specialized fields of their choosing. Lastly, these students may instead choose an institute of technical education (ITE) where they learn mostly vocational and technical skills for practical work. Only after completing JC or Polytechnic programs are students allowed to apply to the local universities.
Education is highly subsidized for Singaporeans and Permanent Residents (PRs). For the 10 years of primary and secondary education, parents only need to pay a small miscellaneous fee per month which can be as low as $10-$150. This subsidy continues into the JCs but is not applicable for polytechnics or ITEs.
International schools, on the other hand, typically follow the IB or American curriculum systems, and offer international student bodies with generally excellent academic programs. Tuition fees, however, are very expensive and range between $20,000 and $70,000 SGD per year depending on the school and curriculum.