Growing up in Singapore’s education system

Singapore’s education system touted as one of the best, if not the best, in the world. Its students have also consistently ranked at the top of the PISA test. Of which it has been no secret to the world that Singapore has also been continuously working towards a knowledge building pedagogy. Even though the education system places a great emphasis on the student academics goal, however, students are ensured a well-balanced holistic development. Here in Singapore, the education system follows a “Teach less, Learn more” structure that strives to meet the holistic growth in every student – allowing them to rediscover their fullest potential in many other aspects to become competent citizens of the 21st century.

In Singapore, the Ministry of Education does not compromise time and the many opportunities reserved for our bright individuals to pursue their passion through their Co-Curricular Activities (also commonly referred to as CCA) or various school programs available.

Overview of Singapore education: (Source: MOE) 

Before sending your precious angels to the schools in Singapore, one has got to understand the different education system in our little red dot. Let’s dive ahead to explain Singapore’s educational system chronologically:

Primary School 

The primary school acts as a pillar of a foundation for most kids. At the age of 7, Singaporeans kids will require to attend a primary school for six years. The primary school curriculum ensures that the children have a comprehensive understanding of the different subjects (English, Mathematics, Mother-tongue and science) that will be vital for their progression in their further studies. With the official language in Singapore being English, children will cultivate a good speaking and writing ability at a young age. However, as Singapore also prides itself as a multilingual country, all students are required to choose an additional mother-tongue language (Chinese, Malay, Tamil) of their own to ensure bilingualism for cultural integration.

Learning in Singapore is, however, known to be progressive to ensure the little ones are not overwhelmed with knowledge. Therefore, the child is only required to include science as a curriculum during their upper primary studies. Other than those four main subjects we have mentioned earlier, students will also need to attend lessons such as Art, Music, Physical Education and Social Studies to enhance their holistic development. At the end of the six years in primary school, all students will have to sit for a compulsory national examination — the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE), which will determine the child’s following step in the system.

Secondary School 

The Secondary structure works similarly to the primary school curriculum. However, secondary students can expose themselves to a plethora of subjects which range from humanities, design and technology, food and consumer education, or even the advanced mathematics and sciences streams. The difference between primary and secondary education mainly lies within the number of subjects. In comparison, a primary school student takes an average of four main curricula as compared to a secondary student who is required to juggle between seven to eight subjects. A variety of curricula is offered to the lower secondary student to broaden their knowledge while finding their strengths and weaknesses they prefer before getting streamed into their speciality stream. Generally, most students attend secondary school for four to five years and end off with the O/N level examination. Hereafter, students have the freedom to choose the type of tertiary education (A level / Polytechnic / ITE ) they would most likely prefer based on their aggregate scores.


The implementation of differentiated learning pathways implies that students are allowed to choose the path to embark. After completion of secondary school, depending on the student’s strengths and interests, they can choose to take on the following routes:

  • Attend 2 year junior college or 3 year Millennia Institute taking the GCE A-Level examination
  • Attend a polytechnic for a 3-year diploma course
  • Attend ITE for a 2-3 year National ITE Certificate course (Nitec) or Higher Nitec course

Each of these paths are curated specifically based on the students’ learning abilities to flourish the teens future in the best possible way. 


After finishing one’s tertiary education, it is up to one’s decision to upgrade his / her education status. In Singapore, there is a total of 6 autonomous local universities, specifically the National University of Singapore (NUS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore Management University (SMU), Singapore University of Technology & Design (SUTD), Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) and Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS). Notably, NUS and NTU have always been ranked as Asia’s top universities by QS World University Rankings with its extensive resources and programmes offered. 

However, one has to prove themselves both academically and holistically before being qualified to study in these schools. One of these local universities’ perks consists of allowing students to tap on their parents’ CPF funds to pay for their education. For those who are not cut out, the local universities are encouraged to upgrade themselves in the private universities such as Kaplan, SIM etc. In all universities, exchange programmes and holistic programmes are often organised by the individual universities to enrich your child with different experiential learning opportunities.


The Singapore education system might seem complicated at one glance, but the various tracks available to benefit students of all aptitude and different learning interests. To fully enjoy and maximise the benefits of Singapore’s education system, we strongly encourage you to apply for Singapore PR for your child. In our next blog, we will be revealing some of the many perks that your child (and you) will be able to enjoy. Stay tuned for more!