SEATTLE, Washington — One undeniable occurrence in any nation is the significant relationship between wealth and education. Now ranking second in cities with the highest rate of millionaires in Asia, Singapore holds a similarly high standard for its educational institutions. On the other hand, the unique international crossroads of modern Singapore causes various perspectives and cultures to influence their systems. Education is a fundamental right and a necessity in eliminating poverty and developing economies, which Singapore has proven through its robust systems.
While the OECD works with many countries and economic powers, it has 38 primary members, concentrated in Europe and the Americas. Based on the standards applied through this organization, in Singapore, 89% of students scored at least a level two on reading proficiency, compared to the OECD average 77%. Beyond level two, 26% of students in Singapore achieved a five or six, almost triple the OECD average score of 9%.
Reading proficiency does not reflect the extent of an individual’s knowledge or capabilities. But the ability to read quickly, without mistakes analytically can open the doors to more opportunities in higher education and employment. With such high reading proficiency rates, the education system presents pathways to success that will boost these young students’ economic and social influence.
In the same study, researchers tested proficiency in mathematics, and similar to reading proficiency, Singapore soared high above the averages for the OECD nations. While the average of all the nations was 76%, 93% of Singaporean students reached level two.
The OECD average was 11% for level five or higher. Singapore more than tripled that rate at 37% of students scoring at least a five. With nearly all students achieving at least a two and over a third at least a five, education in Singapore prepares students in a relatively equitable method, as only 7% of students failed to reach the second level of proficiency.
Science is the final category included in the comprehensive OECD study. Continuing the trend, approximately 91% of students in Singapore seized at least a level two proficiency, while the OECD average sat around 78%.
At triple the rate of the OECD average, 21% of Singaporean students reached at least a five in science. Though these numbers do not reflect the intellect or drive of students in any given country, these statistics reflect the educational system that supports their learning and development. In alignment with mathematics and reading, high rates of science proficiency in 15-year-old students are a result of robust educational institutions and strategic policymaking.
While these rates reflect OECD standards, Singapore performed significantly higher in each of the three educational categories than the averages of the many developed economies, such as the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, Turkey or South Korea. In this comparative data, measurable data reflects educational processes that maintain economic growth and increase individual economic value.
How can education in Singapore manage to produce such high standards? One aspect of eliminating poverty and sparking economic growth is educational opportunities for the overall population and universal education practices to meet particular criteria. Singapore created a centralized education structure with minimal variability between schools and regions, adhering to national policies. In its initial post-colonial era, Singapore introduced educational systems in the “one-size-fits-all” philosophy, according to a study published in the South African Journal of Education. However, by 1996, Singapore transitioned into schooling with multiple pathways, reducing dropout rates, improving quality and producing more technically skilled labor positions.
Singapore also introduced specialized schools to cater to specific aspects of education, such as schools for children with specific educational needs beyond the standard curriculum or faculty. In this development of specialized schooling, the process became more individual. The purpose of education became more ability-driven, nurturing one’s specific talents and inclinations. Systemically, Singapore’s Ministry of Education has a mainstream system, Global Provider System, Special Education System and Special Schools, according to the same study. Each of these facets of their educational institutions caters to the development of the individual.
In this era of change, one primary policy that reflects the foresight of Singapore’s policymaking was the bilingual education practice. Without enough land or natural resources for industrial development, their education became essential features of the economic growth and increasing value of human capital. The bilingual policy ensured that all students learn English and their ethnic mother tongue, normally Chinese, Malay or Tamil. This policy allows students in Singapore to enter large global markets, such as the United States and Europe.
Along with English, the children do not lose the connection to their culture through their mother tongue, protecting individual identity. This policy on education in Singapore strategically unifies a multicultural nation after colonial rule and ensures access to the largest global economies for all children.
Outcomes of Singapore’s Education
While the country is not facing high poverty rates or extreme discrimination in education, Singapore is an example of policymaking and governance that prioritizes education, supporting the nation’s youth. With robust and individual educational systems, the schools nurture growth and unique talents, performing at higher standards than most other countries in the world. With the universal bilingual approach to language learning, Singapore protects culture while preparing the youth for engagement in international spheres.
The most significant aspect of the educational systems is the centralization and adherence to these policies, as each school maintains these standards and expectations. Whether attending an American international school or a Gifted school, there is minor variation between educational practices and quality regions. Ultimately, education in Singapore is exemplary of quality schooling and economy-focused policies, limiting potential poverty or unemployment.
– Mikey Redding