Education in Singapore
Joined Commonwealth: 1965
Population: 4,737,000 (2009)
GDP p.c. growth: 3.9% p.a. 1990-2009
UN HDI 2010: world ranking 27
Adult literacy: 94.7 % (2009)
Public spending on education was 3.0% of GDP in 2009. By the 1990s, primary education was virtually universal. There are six years of compulsory education starting at age six. The pupil-teacher ratio for primary is 17:1 and for secondary 15:1. Secondary education is streamed at three levels, according to measured ability, leading to junior college or vocational institutions. The school year starts in January.
The principal universities are National University of Singapore (founded in 1905), Nanyang Technological University (1981, as Nanyang Technological Institute), Singapore Management University (2000, the first private university) and SIM University (2005, also private). National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University each had more than 30,000 students in 2009. Singapore Management University, with some 6,000 students, offers accountancy, business management, economics, information systems, law, and social sciences. SIM University’s academic programmes are aimed at working professionals.
Other tertiary institutions include Singapore Polytechnic (founded 1954), Ngee Ann Polytechnic (1963), Temasek Polytechnic (1990), Nanyang Polytechnic (1992), National Institute of Education and Institute of Technical Education (1992). Co-operation between industry and technological education is well developed and retraining and education for older adults is an important goal. There is virtually no illiteracy among people aged 15-24.
The Ministry of Education’s long-term vision is of a nation of thinking and committed citizens, conscious of their responsibilities to family, society and country, capable of meeting the challenges of the future and able to create an education system geared to the needs of the 21st century.