The education system in Singapore is managed by the Ministry of Education (MOE) and they are responsible for the educational output and school funding. In Singapore the MOE also has both an advisory and supervisory role with regards to the private schools and retain an input into the curriculum that is implemented within these establishments.
The government invests heavily in their education system and currently invests approximately 20 percent of their annual national budget into the public school network.
Since the year 2000 onwards attendance at a school has been compulsory for all children and parents who fail to enroll their children in school are guilty of a criminal offence. While exemptions are allowed for home schooling, full-time religious institutions and children with disabilities, these must be approved by the MOE in advance.
The main language of education in Singapore is English and the majority of subjects in schools are taught in this language. Many schools also offer Malay, Mandarin Chinese and Tamil classes.
Many children attend private-sector pre-school from the ages of three to six, although this is optional. This introduces children to learning and they will be tught basic subjects such as maths, music and English.
Primary and Secondary Education
Once children reach the age of six they will enter the school system and will progress from Primary 1 (P1) through to Primary 6 (P6). During the P6 year they will take the formal Primary School Leaving Examination (PLSE) and this will determine which secondary school they are admitted to and which stream they will enter:
- ‘Express’ (the traditional four-year secondary education leading directly to the Singapore-Cambridge O-level;
- Normal (Academic), a four-year education leading to the N-level with the possibility of studying another year to attain the O-level;
- and Normal (Technical), which is similar to the Normal (Academic) apart from the fact that they take more technical-based subjects.
All secondary school pupils are required to learn a second language.
After passing their O-levels, pupils then go to junior college to take their Singapore-Cambridge A-levels.