by Sir Peter Birkett | June 2021 | Education


Since gaining independence from Malaysia in 1965, Singapore has become an economic powerhouse with an education system which is considered among the best in the world.  Without any natural resources to rely on, Singapore developed a cultural revolution based on Education to drive the phenomenal success of this skyscraper city towards the embodiment of prosperity and calm.

Sitting in approximately 700 sq kilometres and surrounded by 64 offshore islands, this is one of the smallest countries in the world, with a diverse and educated population, and is one of three surviving city-states, alongside Monaco and the Vatican City.

Although there is no official state religion, most Singaporeans follow Buddhism, but Hinduism, Islam and Christianity are also followed among its diverse population.

Singapore’s education system has always been a priority, which led to the funding and development of a highly effective system for young people up to the age of 18. The policies from the Ministry of Education are adaptable and flexible and although the schools are strictly hierarchical and disciplined in nature, students in singapore and their well-being is considered vital in order for them to thrive in such a competitive environment.

The government-run system of streaming pupils involves regular examinations which divert the students into academic pathways based on their strengths.  At secondary school level, students then choose the schools which reflect their interests or talents.

The school system has a routine that begins just before 8am with the national anthem to give all students a sense of belonging to this very focused and hardworking city.

The ‘Desired Outcomes of Education’ as set out by the Ministry of Education are based around developing skills in self-management and character building, social and cooperative skills, and application of knowledge in order to take on the ‘challenges of the future.’

Learning is geared towards passing exams in core subjects which involves all school materials being targeted to specific topics only using information which is considered relevant to the subject.  Teachers are a dominant force in the classroom and can decide to use Eastern or Western teaching methods, or even a combination of both.

Discipline is important within schools and teachers are highly respected and highly trained professionals within this well-rewarded sector. Rigorous assessments, accountability and over a hundred hours of extra training annually all help to maintain the high standards expected of Singaporean schools. This includes sharing knowledge, improving teamwork and leadership skills.   

Parent support is also vital and online platforms are often used at home. For those students who fall below expected standards, extra-curricula help is provided to raise them to the level of their peers.

Singapore is described as a happy city which is consistently focused on the development of its future and the future of its children. It doesn’t waste time or energy on activities and habits which are unproductive, instead, citizens strive daily to reach new heights within their business and education sectors.

‘Never take a quiet person for granted – he might have great qualities underneath his quiet nature.’ – Singaporean proverb