Education in Singapore

(Click here if you need to enlarge chart.)

Before we get ahead of ourselves and swallow the proposed “Enhanced K+12 Basic Education Program” hook-line-and-sinker, let’s take a closer look at our neighbor’s successful educational system and see if there’s something we can learn from it:  The Singapore Education Journey. A lot of information about Singapore’s educational system may be found in the following websites:

Singapore Education/Singapore Government (

Ministry of Education/Singapore (

For your convenience, click Education in Singapore for a comprehensive Corporate Brochure from Singapore’s Ministry of Education.

As the saying “the proof is in the pudding” goes, it sure helps to check Singapore’s Education Statistics Digest 2010.

Compared to the additional 2 years tacked in as junior high and senior high under the proposed enhanced K+12 basic education program as contemplated by the Aquino Administration, Singapore sticks with its 4-year high school or 5-year high school and instead gives students three pre-university options: 2-3 years of Junior College, or 3 years of Polytechnic School, or 1-2 years of Institute of Technical Education (ITE) where the student picks up some life survival skills. Depending on his academic performance up to that point, the student who graduates from any of the pre-university level options may elect to continue to the university level or he may decide to go out–NOT as a high school graduate but as a Junior College graduate or as a Polytechnic School graduate or as an Institute of Technical Education graduate–and compete for a job.

It should be noted that in addition to these, the Primary School Grade 6 graduate has other non-traditional routes to the university or the workplace. Depending on the student’s performance in the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE), he has these other options:  (a) Integrated Program that combines Secondary and JC education [4 to 6 years], (b) Specialized Program to develop the student’s talents in specific areas [4 to 6 years], (c) Privately-funded School programs that determine their own curriculum and provide more options for Singapore students [4 to 6 years], or the (d) Special Education School programs that provide EITHER mainstream curriculum with programs catering to the student’s special needs OR customized special education curriculum [4 to 6 years].

The emphasis on vocational/technical life survival skills in the post-secondary traditional programs (or the 4-6 year post-primary school non-traditional or special programs) is the common thread. In the case of the Philippines, a similar emphasis is planned for the additional last 2 years (junior high and senior high) under the proposed K+12 program whose graduate would still be a “high school graduate” who, should he decide to look for a job instead of going to college, would be competing with the legions of college graduates many of whom are unemployed or underemployed. Unless the potential employer is trying to find a cheaper hire, his perception of which graduate — the high school graduate or the college graduate — is better qualified for a given job is bound to adversely impact the employment opportunities of the high school graduate.



2 responses to “Education in Singapore

  1. Singapore is not only land-scare but scarce in talent in Special Education.
    For Foreign Talents and those who subsequently took up Permanent Residence and citizenship here as they enjoyed serving the disadvantaged in society, why must their foreign qualifications be not recognised? I know that there is no body governing or otherwise performing this function for validation or you may call it licensing.

    It comes as no surprise when I hear of people in this great predicament who leave Singapore to pursue a fulfilling and satisfying career in Special Education – Australia,New Zealand and the United States of America with the full recognition and respect of their qualifications.

    This is a serious loss of talent for Singapore. Many Singaporeans have ‘fled’ Singapore to pursue their aspirations. It is a major loss for Singapore!

    I know of a Myanmar Doctor who worked in a VWO as a Consultant as her medical degree was not recognised. Myanmar is a member state of ASEAN and the Commonwealth. Besides, the Handbook on the Association of Commonwealth Universities is a recognised document to list the national graduating universities of the gradunds. If the UK, Austrlia, New Zeland and even the US welcomes the talent why not Singapore.

    Their pay scale is not commensurate with their academic and work experiences.

    The Prime Minister, The Director-General of Education and the Acting Minister for MCYS should address this issue seriously and provide direction and policy on this issue.

    As a former Social Services Officer, I have witnessed the good, bad and the ugly in Sped and the Disability sector. Honestly, why i did not take up a sponsorship for the Diploma in Disability Studies. Why? It was a dry course and did not have the Practicum element unlike the revered Diploma in Special Education @ NIE.

    As it was mostly hom-based assignments, many had obtained High Distinction passes – a number with the help of ‘ghose-writers’.

    I suggest that the MCYS and MOE perform surprise audits with no advance information to the VWOs and Schools concerned and they will sadly discover the
    lack of service standards and the application of knowledge provided by the respective Diplomas – in particular the DDS. I promise you will be amazed at the lack of initiatives, professionalism and contributions particularly at this VWO.

    Licensing these graduates of the DDS Diploma will be imperative to maintain quality standards and also to let Govt. understand that their funding was put to good use and the quality results of the Graduands. Those Graduates should be tasked with Projects to benefit their Organisations and to subsequently schedules for Public Activities.

    • It’s about time !!!

      VWOs should not give big titles such as Chief Excutive Officers rather as Executive Directors. They are noit in business or a multi-national company.

      Candidatyes for Directors or Exec. Directors in VWOS should be jointly interviewed by NCSS and MCYS to assess the suitability of the candidates just like MOE since 2007 for Special Schools.

      As long as the School or VWO receives funding from either MOE, Comchest ,NCSS or MCYS – the Executive Council is to bound by rules and regulations set by the funding authorities and there should be an Appeal Mechanism for persons disadvantaged to seek redress on issues.

      All ranking persons from Director and above must be interviewed regularly upon the expiry of their official terms, say 3 years or 4 years when their contributions can be measured before they are given the extension.

      Suggest maximum term of Office Holders to be no more than 6 years to bring in a diversity of talent, new and fresh idseas to invigorate the Disability Sector.

      I wish well for the VWOs and Schools to remain relevant to he needs of the present and future generations.

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