All parents want the best for their kids and would do all within their means to provide the best education available for their bright future. One of the biggest concerns of many Indian parents is their child's education in Singapore. Singapore is home to around 3,50,000 Indians.
Singapore provides a plethora of options, from Singapore Local schools to Indian International schools to foreign international schools. Indian International schools (IIS) and Singapore Local Schools (SLS) are the most approved ones by Indian parents. So the question arises which school should one choose? There are four Indian International Schools in India, DPS, GIIS, NPS and YBIS. GIIS has two campuses one in ECP area and other in Punggol. So, Indian parents, have 5 schools to choose from?
Well, here are a few factors you should consider to decide which one could be better in your situation
Indian International Schools (IIS)
- Admissions and Availability
- Education Fee
Parents who are keen and very particular about the Indian Curriculum, then these schools are for you. Indian International Schools provide your child with the opportunity to learn the Indian Curriculum. Also, Indian schools particularly helpful for the kids who already started schools in India and now parents are relocated to Singapore. They can continue with the same or very similar syllabus to there's not much transitional effort and disruption to their education. If they're studying IB curriculum in India, a few IIS even provide IB so they can continue study in IIS in Singapore.
One of the best thing about IIS is availability. One can get admission to IIS any time throughout the year and vacancies are always there. It's highly unlikely that your child won't get a vacancy in any of these Indian International Schools. For admission, one just needs to visit the school and a few documents like passport, ICs and birth certificates etc.IIS session starts from April and final exams are conducted in February/March in the subsequent year, much like in India.
There are only a few IIS in Singapore located in different parts of Singapore so accessibility is a problem. Every IIS provide transportation to most of the part of Singapore but commute time is a problem. If you stay in another part of Singapore and choose IIS on other parts of Singapore then your child might need to bear a long commute every day. So be mindful of it while choosing the school. Few parents choose to move to the area close to IIS saving transportation cost as well as your child's commute time. But not all parents have the option to relocate if their office is on the other side of Singapore. In such cases, parents are forced to make some hard decisions.
Education in general is expensive in Singapore and varies a lot. For IIS it ranges from ~$1000 to $1800 per month depending upon school you choose. Compared to the cost of education in India, it's exorbitant. School fee is not the only expense, there could be more charges for transportation if you need to opt one. There may be other miscellaneous charges from time to time for other school activities.
Few children may need extra help and support for their studies. If parents can't help them with this extra support then professional tuition classes are available. The parent may arrange for 1-1 home tuitions which are quite expensive may range from $30 - $50 per hour. There a few good online tuition services as well that have very good, qualified and professional teachers, that might save your kid long commute time and a few hundred dollars for you every month.
MOE Schools/Singapore Local Schools (SLS)
- Admissions and Availability
- Education Fee
SLS follows the syllabus prescribed by the Ministry of Education(MOE) Singapore. it's quite different to our Indian curriculum in terms of the syllabus as well as teaching methodologies. Singapore's education system is among the best in the world. It's very competitive and little advanced compared to Indian curriculum for the same age group class. So opting SLS one won't lose anything on Science, Maths and English etc, to some parents its better. Although Singapore has 3 national mother tongue languages Chinese, Malay and Tamil it's not forced, you may choose Hind or other Indian languages like Bengali, Gujrati, Punjabi etc. As funded by Singapore government these schools have really good infrastructure, trained and qualified teachers.
SLS sessions are from January to December and the admissions process starts much earlier in June. In SLS admission are on a priority basis, Singapore citizens get the first opportunity to apply for SLS, then Singapore Permanent Residents (SPR) are considered and at last foreign students are given the opportunity if there're any vacancies available.
For foreign students easiest way to get into SLS is through Primary 1 admission exercise that starts around July every year for next year admission. Please refer to MOE website for exact dates. Parents need to register their interest on the MOE website around July. MOE will update and allocate school to the student based on availability. There is a good chance your child may not get a seat in SLS as vacancies are very limited for foreign students. This is the biggest downside of SLS for foreign students.
If you're still keen to get your child into SLS, then one has to go through Admission Exercise for International Students (AEIS). This is a competitive exam and thousands of foreign students from South Asian countries give this exam to get into SLS. This exam is expensive, entrance fee $700 and need some serious preparation. So it makes sense to put that much of effort only if you're planning to live in Singapore longer.
SLS are all over Singapore. Every town has Primary and Secondary schools in the neighbourhood. For foreign students though, chances are they may not be able to get one in their neighbourhood, especially if they're staying in a place where there're many foreign nationals. Schools allotted by MOE are non-transferrable, at least at the time of allocation. In that case, parents might need to move the location where the school is based as SLS transport contractor only provide services in the vicinity of the schools, maybe around 2-3km. So do check with the school before making the decision to move.
Just like SLS have different priorities in admission based on citizenship status, school fee is also different for different students based on their citizenship students. For foreign students it's close to $800/month. It's not very different from lowest fee offered by IIS but compared to others on higher end its significantly lower. Given the infrastructure, facilities and quality of education its not unreasonable. Other than monthly fee you might need to consider transportation if you're not staying close enough to school so that might add $100-$200 per month to the cost. So whether IIS or SLS its advisable to move close to school that will save you money and time for your kid.
Singapore is one of the costlier places to live for expats and education is not the exception. To some cost may not be the list of criteria to decide upon the school to choose for their kids, but to many, it could be their first criteria. Though Indian International schools are expensive other international schools are even more expensive. Such a high cost may worth for higher education but to many parents, such high fees are not reasonable for Primary and Secondary school education. Saving done in these years may help their kids education immensely when the time comes for their higher education. Through IIS, parents can provide quality education to kids at a relatively lower cost compared to other International Schools.
SLS are even more cost-effective with great quality education but getting admission in SLS is difficult for foreign students. If parents are planning to stay in Singapore for a longer period it's advisable to try for SLS in Primary 1. If your child is already passed Primary 1, then he can appear for AEIS. Once the child is in SLS then the parent doesn't have to worry much for Secondary schools etc, after that it's all merit basis.