With a large community of expats, Singapore has a lot of foreign students seeking admission in schools. Choosing between the local and the international curriculum is a tough call to make and many expat parents agonize over this decision.
What are the education options available to expat parents?
The Singapore education system is amongst the best in the world. An education hub, the island gives parents a wide choice of schools to select from. While the local schools offer top-class learning, international schools in Singapore are also outstanding.
Here are the four different types of schools expat parents can choose from:
- Local schools – offer excellent bilingual (English and Chinese) programmes with a focus on math and science. Your child will attain world-class education at a reasonable fee, and will also be completely immersed in Singaporean culture. A great option if you plan to stay long-term in Singapore, though admission spots for international students are hard to come by.
- International schools – offer balanced programmes that focus equally on sports, academics, arts, and community service. Students come from diverse countries and backgrounds, and your child learns in a multicultural environment and gets a more holistic education. International schools in Singapore like GIIS, UWC, OFS, etc. offer IGCSE and IB programmes, making it easier for students to join or leave part-way through the session in case of relocation. These schools come with a premium fee tag.
- National curriculum schools – offer the curriculum of their home countries. Your child will also be exposed to the native culture and values at these schools. For example GIIS, Singapore American School, Japanese School, etc. It helps the child transition if you move back to your home country.
- Blended schools – conduct ‘dual programmes’ and combine national and international programmes.
Should expat parents opt for international schools?
International schools help children grow up to be open-minded, independent, and tolerant of cultural and ethnic differences. Choose an international school for your child if you are looking for:
- An international curriculum that encourages risk-taking, independent thinking and exploring various disciplines
- Holistic development and a global perspective
- Globally-recognized qualifications
- A multicultural environment for her to study in
- Opportunity to learn extra languages from native speakers
- An emphasis on soft skills as well as community service
- Excellent facilities
- Small class sizes for personalized attention and special needs
- Extra-curricular activities that nurture her talents and skills
- More avenues for higher studies
- Easier to transition to another school with a similar curriculum in case of relocation.
Are there any disadvantages to choosing an international school?
There are other factors to be considered before an expat opts for an international school in Singapore.
- The high cost of education – the fees in international schools is higher than in local schools.
- Alienation – some students would require a push to integrate with the local culture, which only an excellent school can provide.
- Transient friendships – student turnover is high as expats frequently relocate and the friendships may not last for very long.
There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to deciding between a local and an international. Choose one that best suits your child’s and your needs.