Blog General Singapore Education News How Singaporean Education Compares to the Rest of the World

How Singaporean Education Compares to the Rest of the World

Many of our articles here mention about the highly regarded education system in Singapore, but just how good is it in relation to other nations?

According to a global study by Pearson Education, Singapore is ranked at the 5th spot in the world. Ahead of Singapore are only 5 countries: Finland, South Korea, Hong Kong, and Japan. This is no easy feat, and something for all Singaporeans to be proud of.

The high expectations of parents, private tutors, teachers, all the way up to school administration staff appears to be for good reason. Like its Asian counterparts, Singapore places a very high emphasis on test taking, and the results of this mentality have led the country to the standings it is at today. There is enormous pressure on students to perform well on national and international assessments. This, in turn places pressure on private tutors, tuition tutors, and classroom teachers to adequately prepare their pupils.

Singapore uses both traditional Western and Eastern methodologies and pedagogies, and the instructional regime is focused on the delivery of curriculum. Basically, classes are teacher-led and geared to the acquiring of established knowledge and applying it towards problems to obtain correct answers. This is done through lots of practice and repetition.

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Math and Science as Strongpoints

The previous explanation of how Singapore’s education system works is at its strongest when it comes to the subjects of maths and sciences. In a comprehensive report released by Today in 2015, Singapore emerged at the very top of the list of skill levels for the two subjects. The assessment was given to 15 year-olds around the world, and Singapore beat out all its competitors in the world standings (Finland, South Korea, Hong Kong, and Japan).

Keeping Up the Good Work

Government officials and school boards commend and are proud of Singapore’s achievements. There is obviously a system in place that works and is giving very positive results. Top educator analyzers also see Singapore as successful within the field of education but cautioned that students not only have a solid foundation in knowledge in important subjects, but also that they acquire positive character qualities, critical thinking skills, and learn how to collaborate with others.

As far as test scores go, one way to ensure that students are going to do well is by having a home tutor. Good private tutors continue to enhance a child’s strengths and help raise their weaknesses to a sufficient level.

Singapore Compared to #1

The learning environment of the consistently #1 country for educational scores is very different from that Singapore and the rest of the other Asian nations at the top. Finland achieves remarkable results, but would it be possible for Singapore to catch up? Here are some of the major differences in the two education systems.

• In Singapore, children start their formal educational “careers” at 3 years old. In Finland, kids don’t start school until they are 7.
• Finnish children are not given formal assessments for the first six years of schooling whereas Singaporean children are constantly examined to show their scores. (The only mandatory standardized test taken at age 16 in Finland).
• In Finland, it would be illegal for students to be placed in different classes based off of their ability. In Singapore, there are classes for higher-scoring students, and for those with lower abilities.
Home tuition in addition to regular classes is a common occurrence in Singapore, but in Finland this concept doesn’t really exist.
• Finnish recesses are generally 75 minutes long. The average recess time for Singapore is 25-30 minutes.
• Singapore students often receive a lot of homework to practice what they have learned in class. Finnish students rarely get homework until they are teenagers.

Both countries get results. An argument can easily be made for both sides as to which is the “proper” way to learn. For Singapore to reach Finland’s results by imitating them, it would take a lot of educational reform. It’s unlikely that possibility will be happening any time soon.

Singapore has a lot to be proud of. No one can say different when you look at statistics. Whether there is more to school than just test score is up to personal opinion. Either way, Singapore, through the help of teachers and private tutors, has achieved, and will continue to achieve, great things.

Rum Tan

Rum Tan is the founder of SmileTutor and he believes that every child deserves a smile. Motivated by this belief and passion, he works hard day & night with his team to maintain the most trustworthy source of home tutors in Singapore. In his free time, he writes articles hoping to educate, enlighten, and empower parents, students, and tutors. You may try out his free home tutoring services via or by calling 6266 4475 directly today.