Did you just get posted to Singapore recently? One of the key concerns for any expats working overseas is looking for the right school for your child. Getting the right education is key to your child’s social, mental and emotional development.
Option 1: Sending your child to the Singapore Education System (Singapore Public Schools).
“Singapore has the highest achieving students in international education rankings, with its teenagers coming top in tests in maths, reading and science.”
Singapore, named as the top rated country for maths and science in another ranking last week, is in first place in all the Pisa test subjects, ahead of school systems across Asia, Europe, Australasia and North and South America.
With this world class ranking, if you do not need your children to attend an international school that mirrors that of your native country, consider sending your kids to the Singapore public schools.
If you are opened to this option, check out this link from the Ministry of Education (Singapore) – https://www.moe.gov.sg/admissions/international-students/general-info
Option 2: Sending Your Child To An International School In Singapore
Despite the world class acknowledgement of Singapore’s public education system (ok I know some of you prefer your children to develop their creativity which is pretty lacking in the Singapore system), some of the things to consider before deciding on your child’s education.
1. How Long Will You Stay In Singapore?
The duration of your job stint in Singapore is quite a major factor for your child’s education. If you are going to be working in Singapore for only a couple of years – sending your child to an international school that mirrors the education system back in your native country is a safe bet.
This will help your child to “fit back in” your native’s education when you return home. At the same time, by choosing an international school (that mirrors your native country), your child is also following the same school term back home. Your child is also like to meet students of the same nationality and they will find it easier to feel more at “home” in school which is beneficial to their social development.
2. Do You Want To Expose Your Child To Different Cultures?
Singapore is one of the most diversified (culturally) cities in Asia and serves as a bridge between the East and West. In this increasingly globalized world, I personally feel it is imperative for any child to socialise with students of different nationalities and immerse in different cultures for social development.
It is getting more common for expats in Singapore to pursue a Singapore local education over international schools as a growing group of expats wants their children to expand their world views and get more exposure to “Asian culture”. This is really helpful for your children if you intend to stay in Singapore (or Asia) for a longer period of time.
The other added benefit of enrolling your child in the Singapore’s bilingual education system is that your child will get a chance to learn a second language (Mandarin, Tamil or Bahasa Melayu). Equipping your child with a second language apart from English is a valuable skill he or she can pick up and benefit for life.
Singapore’s Education System
Compared to the west (and other international schools in Singapore), the Singapore education system is known to be “stricter” and more stringent. You need to evaluate the fact that your child will be subjected to more academic tests and exams in the Singapore system which also favours science and maths over arts and humanities subjects.
Above: Video of Amercian Teen – Happy Rogers who attends Singapore’s public school Nanyang Primary School, Rogers is the elder daughter of Jim Rogers, a prominent American investor who started Quantum Fund, a prominent hedge fund, with George Soros, another prominent investor.
International students who wish to seek admission to our mainstream schools at the Primary 2 to 5 or Secondary 1 to 3 levels must take part in the Admissions Exercise for International Students (AEIS).
This will help to ensure that international students admitted to our mainstream schools are able to cope with the requirements of the Singapore education and curriculum.
Admission is not guaranteed, and is subject to the applicant’s performance in the centralised test on English and Mathematics. If successful, placement will take into consideration the available vacancies and the applicant’s declared Singapore residential area where possible.
Getting The Suitable International School For Your Child
Tuition fees in International school (primary and secondary) can cost around SGD$30,000 to $40,000 per year (a big difference from Singapore public schools).
However if you have already decide on sending your child to an International School, consider the factors below:
The International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum is a popular school program adopted by many international schools. Recognising the importance of a second language, the IB system is geared towards nurturing children to become citizens of the world.
2. School Facilities
The key to evaluating an International School’s facilities really depends on what you want your child to do. If you child loves swimming, getting an International School with a swimming pool is a must. Choose an International School with faciliaties that matches your child’s interests.
We recommend all parents to drop by all the international schools with your child before deciding on the international school to attend (hey Singapore is really small so it won’t take up too much of your time.
3. School Life
Again, this really depends on what you want for your child socially. If you prefer your child to miggle with students of the same nationality, the obvious choice is to send your child to the international school of your native country.
If you are more “adventurous” and believe it is socially beneficial to your child to mingle and learn the cultures of different nationalities and enjoy a childhood unlike most others, we recommend you send your child to an truly “international’ school with students from all walks of life and countries.
Why choose international schools?
First of all, it isn’t easy to enrol your child in a local school as priority is given to Singaporean citizens or Permanent Residents. It is not unheard of for Singaporean parents to literally go the extra mile to move to a location where their preferred primary school is and to volunteer years ahead just to secure a place.
All international students who want to enrol in a local school will have to take the Admissions Exercise for International Students (AEIS), which assesses English literacy, numeracy and reasoning abilities.
That probably gives you an idea of what the second point will be – competition. The educational system in Singapore is known to be highly competitive, and depending on your own philosophy, that may be a major plus point or an absolute downer.
Some children thrive while others are held back with rigorous academics and co-curricular activities that are focused on results. If you know your child learns better in a less competitive environment, then an international school may be a better option.
Last but not least, if you plan on returning to your home country in a couple of years, going to an international school that has the syllabus of your home country may make the transition home a lot smoother for your child. International schools are also more diverse in their nationality and ethnic mix, so that offers your child a glimpse into other cultures too.