information for global expats

State School Systems for Expats in Singapore

Submitted: February 2014

If you wish to send your child to a government or government-aided school in Singapore an application would have to be made through the Ministry of Education (MOE). 

Admission of international students into mainstream schools is subject to availability of school vacancies, the student meeting the school’s admission criteria and the student’s successful application of a Student’s Pass (STP) from the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA), if required. Tuition fees at state schools are usually much lower than private or international schools.

The admissions process may seem complicated, but below are some of the steps which should assist you if you wish to send your child to a state school; you may also wish to visit the foreign student information website at https://www.moe.gov.sg/esp/foreign/.

  • Applications for school admission of foreign student must be made using a prescribed form which can be obtained from the school of your choice.
  • If there is a vacancy, the school will conduct a placement test. The placement test will often include being tested on English, Mathematics.  If your child passes the placement test and the school accepts him/ her, the school will issue a Letter of Acceptance (LOA)
  • This LOA must then be taken to ICA to apply for a student’s pass (unless they hold a Dependant’s Pass or an Immigration Exemption Order). Do note that acceptance to the school is conditional upon the applicant returning with a student’s pass from ICA within 2 weeks from the date of issue of the LOA. If the applicant does not return within 2 weeks with a student pass then they will forfeit their admission to the school.
  • If you have been successfully admitted to the school, the MOE will send a letter to you requesting a biennial donation to the Education Fund which is usually S$1000 ($787 US) for every two years.



  • Applications can be made anytime during the year
  • Donations to the Education Fund are eligible for tax-exemption
  • Foreign Students can also get Government scholarships. See www.moe.gov.sg/aseanscholarships for more information.
  • Monthly School fees are typically S$80 ($62.96 US) for primary schools, S$130 ($102 US) for secondary schools and S$240 ($188 US) for pre-university levels. There are also miscellaneous fees.
  • For more information and details on Student Pass applications see: www.ica.gov.sg



Whilst the main language of instruction is English, as part of the Singapore education system, all students are typically required to offer their mother tongue language as part of the curriculum. Exemption from this requirement may be considered on a case-by-case basis after admission to school. Applications for exemption can be made through the school principal, who will refer the application to the, Ministry of Education, for consideration.




Children attend primary school for six years of compulsory education. They then sit a National examination called the Primary School Leaving Examinations (PSLE) before going to secondary school. The general aim of primary education is to ensure students have a proper command of the English language, Mother Tongue and Mathematics. Further, students are encouraged to participate in Co-Curricular Activities (CCAs) and Community Involvement Programme (CIP)

For further information on the objectives of the Primary School curriculum see: https://www.moe.gov.sg/education/primary/curriculum/



Depending on how a student performs at the PSLE, at Secondary school, students are either placed in the Special, Express, Normal (Academic) or Normal (Technical) courses. Each course has a different curricular which is designed to match the learning abilities and interests of the students.  Secondary school typically lasts 4-5 years. Upon completion students can sit either the GCE O’ Levels (for Special or Express courses) or the GCE N’ Levels (for Normal courses). All students also take part in at least one CCA.



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