Common Singapore Education Programs

When learning about schools in Singapore, we can always see many English abbreviations in the materials, such as PSLE, GCE, MOE, STAEM and so on. What do these abbreviations mean? Below, let’s take a look at a few common Singapore Education Programs.

What is AutonomousSchool?

While most secondary schools in Singapore are government-funded, some public schools are self-governing. These schools still teach the Ministry of Education’s standard syllabus, but also offer a wider choice of courses to enhance students’ learning experience. Autonomous schools in Singapore have higher tuition fees, an additional $18-30 per month.

What is an Independent school?

Independent schools in Singapore have greater autonomy in their own management, including curricula, syllabuses, textbooks, fees, admissions, staff recruitment, etc. Singapore’s centralized education system has always been good at producing academically oriented students, but lacks creativity and critical thinking compared to European and American education. And independent  schools in Singapore have flexible curriculum design and rich extracurricular activities, which can cultivate students’ abilities in all aspects.

Independent schools charge much higher fees than government-funded schools. For example, Raffles Girls’ School charges Singapore citizens US$340 per month and US$4,080 per year in 2020 and 2021. Tuition at a typical public high school ranges from just $5 to $25 per month.

What does Affiliated School mean?

If the primary school is attached to a secondary school, it means that students from the primary school can enter the directly affiliated secondary school with a lower score. Let’s take CHIJ St Nicholas Girls’ School as an example. The PSLE admission score of this school in 2020 is 255 points, while the score for its affiliated primary school is only 230 points. The difference is huge!

What is the SAP School (Special Assistance Plan)?

The Special Assistance Program is for students whose native language and English are excellent. However, SAP School currently only serves Mandarin-speaking students. These schools may offer some subjects taught in Chinese.

SAP was established by the Singapore government for students with excellent native and English. The program is offered by designated schools, known as “selective” schools. Currently, the SAP program is limited to students studying Chinese, so the “selected” schools can be said to be famous bilingual schools that Chinese parents want to enter, so the competition is quite fierce. Students must achieve a result in the top 10% of the Primary Six Leaving Examination (PSLE), with excellent results in English and their native language, to gain admission to a “select” secondary school.

What is a GEP school (Gifted Education Programme)?

GEP is Singapore’s gifted education program for all third-year students, regardless of nationality, attending government and government-aided primary schools. Selected children, no matter which school you come from, have the opportunity to attend one of the nine most prestigious GEP primary schools in the country, receiving a gifted education curriculum tailored to them by experts from the Ministry of Education. It’s basically a “rebirth” opportunity.

What is IP (Integrated Programme)?

The Direct Program (IP) is a six-year special program designed for the best students in the country. Students do not need to take the O-level examination, they only need to take the high school courses directly after passing the final examination of the fourth grade of middle school. After completing the six-year course, students will enter the second year of high school for GCE A-levels, the International Baccalaureate (IB), or the equivalent Education Diploma. Therefore, the IP program is also called “choo-train”. IP courses have a wider range of learning and enjoy wider freedom of course selection. Of course, the only students who can get into IP schools are the top students at the academic level.

What is IB (International Baccalaureate school)?

International schools in Singapore usually adopt the IB education program. No Singaporean is allowed to attend an international school without permission from the Ministry of Education. Several local schools also use the IB program. The IB Diploma is a two-year program that prepares students for university entry. While most Singapore candidates take the Singapore Cambridge GCE A level, the IB, as an international program and an Ivy League-recognized entrance exam, is also very competitive, especially for local and foreign students in Singapore who plan to study abroad.

What is DirectSchool Admission (DSA)?

DirectSchool Admission (DSA) is Singapore’s “direct admissions program”, similar to the direct admission for talented students. For primary school graduates, DSA is a program where students apply to junior high schools they are willing to study before the Primary School Examination, hoping to be admitted early. DSA usually requires students to have excellent academic performance (mathematics, science, Chinese, English) or other outstanding talents, such as physical education, painting and calligraphy, music, etc. For specific requirements, please refer to the settings of CCA and the requirements of various middle schools. More than 100 secondary schools and 18 junior colleges in Singapore are participating in the scheme.

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