Reasons Behind The Success of Singapore’s Education System

The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is an influential global study done by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). It evaluates education systems by measuring 15-year-old students’ scholastic performance on mathematics, science, and reading. Singapore topped the PISA rankings for more than one year but what is the reason behind their success? The educational success of Singapore was definitely not accomplished overnight. Having little national resources, Singapore decided to invest in their human resources. To ensure that everyone has a meaningful job, the education system is developed to find appropriate roles for everyone. Here are some key approaches to Singapore’s strong education system.

1. Clear Goals of Education

Singapore’s government provides a very clear goal of desired outcomes of education by defining key competencies students should develop. As the competencies become the core of the country’s education system, it is carefully articulated by the government. Singapore’s education system aims to educate students to be self-aware, responsible and obtain skills necessary for the future. To adapt to the rapidly changing world, students must be able to be well prepared for rich opportunities and challenges ahead of them.

With a clear defined vision, teachers can better align policies based on the desired outcomes of education, and students can strive to achieve those important attributes. It’s important for both students and teachers to work towards a goal, however; in many cases the school’s programs are not aligned to a nation’s education goals. The consistent alignment between policies and their implementation is one of the keys to Singapore’s successful education.

2. Learning How To Learn 

Learning is not just about memorizing facts and information. It’s about the self-motivated attitude and how you expand your skills to develop future opportunities. Singapore emphasizes the application of knowledge and learning how to learn, rather than just learning facts on textbooks. Teaching factual information doesn’t help you develop skills needed for solving different problems in the future.

Many jobs today require the ability of applying skills and experiences to solve problems. Once you learn how to apply your own skills and develop a lifelong habit of learning, you can face various challenges and adapt to changes. Education system in Singapore prepare students well for future challenges.

3. Solid Foundational Knowledge

Foundational knowledge is essential for a student’s education since it provides students the skills that can support them or be employed in their future. Singapore students have a strong foundation in mathematics and science, which is one of the factors that lead to Singapore’s success. Mathematics and science are core subjects taught in primary and secondary education.

The education aims to increase students’ performance by helping them understand the material on a deeper level. They go greater in depth and emphasis on modelling problems with visual aids to let students learn better. Solid foundation is the key to further learning and development in the future.

4. Role of Teachers

Initially, all teachers are trained at the National Institute of Education (NIE) in Singapore. They are trained to be creators of knowledge, facilitators of learning, and leaders of educational change. Schools spend a lot of time and effort on improving and training the teachers. With this effort made, Singapore has developed a strong teaching force to drive education forward.

Singapore’s teacher education is not perfect but it is still carefully-designed to train and improve teachers. Teachers play an important role in students’ learning process and the nation’s education system.

5. Parents Involvement

Family plays another important role in children’s education. With this in mind, another goal set by the Ministry of Education is to make every parent engaged in their child’s education. The Parent Support Group (PSG) arranges meetings between teachers and the parents to discuss the progress of students

Parents also serve as role models for their children at home and thus influences children education as well.  Most parents in Singapore are involved in their children’s education and do take their children’s education very seriously.

6. Differentiation in Learning

Every student have different ways of learning and have their own strength or interest in particular fields. Providing wider choices enable students to self-differentiate and not restrict them on future choices. Singapore’s education system has been moving towards a more flexible and diverse education, ensuring that students learn different skills in their own way.

For those students who are better with hands-on experience, Singapore offers the Polytechnic route after secondary school education. Choosing either route, students gain confidence and become prepared with certain skills. With the differentiated learning, students each find their suitable paths for the future.

Singapore Education V.S. Other Educations in Asia

The Western learning styles and Eastern learning styles often differ greatly but Singapore’s education combines the two together. In some Asian countries, it’s all about getting high scores and getting in the top schools. Because of the examination systems, a student’s achievement is often valued more than any other factors.

On the other hand, Singapore enables differentiation and values students’ self-awareness along with their achievements. Though the “outcome” is important in Singapore, the process of learning is just as valued as the outcome. Students are able find their own talents and is educated to become self-directed and well-rounded learners.

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