4 minute read


Administration, Finance, & Educational Research

Except for preschool education, the entire system of education from the primary to the university levels comes under the administrative control of the Ministry of Education. This includes government, government-aided, and even nonassisted private schools. Education is regarded as one of the most important areas of general concern to the society and of tremendous value to the economy. Therefore, the government has from the inception of Singapore as a free state and, more so since 1973, melded education with the industrial development of the country. It is the responsibility of the Ministry of Education to implement the government's educational policy as approved by the parliament from time to time.

The Minister of Education is aided by a minister of state (who is not a member of the Cabinet), a parliamentary secretary, and a Permanent Secretary (Education), who is a high-level member of the civil service. There is a Director of Education although the Permanent Secretary carries out most of those functions. The Director of Education coordinates all the academic and professional aspects of primary and secondary level education. Assisting the Permanent Secretary are five directors each in charge of a division. The five divisions are administration, education services, planning research and testing, schools, and personnel.

The administration division has five branches. Finance and accounts are in charge of preparation of the annual budget and administration of funds to the schools. The planning and development branch prepares plans for the physical and other infrastructure needs of the schools, and monitors supplies of equipment and other material. The office services branch handles legal matters, the international and statutory organization branch deals with international bodies assisting education in Singapore or which seek statistical or other data, and the public relations branch deals with the members of parliament and the public.

The Educational Services Division has three branches. The pupils service branch deals with scholarships, counseling, and advisement on career. The extracurricular activities branch handles activities outside the classroom. The textbooks and libraries branch selects textbooks for class use and supplies books and materials for school libraries.

The Planning and Review Division has four branches. Planning and systems evaluates the educational system and suggests reforms. The central testing branch reviews current tests, devises new ones, and monitors statewide examinations. A research and monitoring branch reviews and conducts research on educational matters. There is also a computer service branch.

The Schools Division is the largest. It is responsible for developing curriculum, keeping in touch with new teaching methodologies abroad, and suggesting changes throughout Singapore's school system. It works closely with the Curriculum Development Institute of Singapore. An inspection branch in the Schools Division organizes inspection of schools in order to ensure the standards set down by the Ministry are met.

The Personnel Division deals with appointment and promotion of the teachers and other staff. It has four branches, each dealing with a staffing issue: the Appointment Branch, the Service Conditions Branch, the Staff Development Branch, and the Training Branch. The Higher Education Institutions (HEIs)—the universities, polytechnics, the Singapore Science Center and the National Institute of Education—each with a governing council or board of governors come under the overall responsibility of the Statutory Board of Higher Education. Though the Statutory Board of Higher Education and the HEIs function with relative autonomy and independence, the final responsibility still rests with the Minister of Education who is responsible to the people through the parliament. There have been numerous instances when the Minister has intervened, in particular instances of administrative decisions.

Public education in Singapore is almost entirely financed by the government from the general revenues, although schools and universities are encouraged to raise funds particularly for capital expenditure for construction of buildings or major facilities. The importance of education in government and public expenditure is illustrated by the annual allocations to education which are nearly 25 percent (23.7 percent in 1996) of the entire budget. Besides the annual allocation, the parliament approves a developmental expenditure on the capital account. Education also accounts for the highest number of employees under the government—nearly two out of five public employees in 2000. Teachers and administrative staff are paid salaries and allowances at government rates applicable to all public employees and are entitled to all programs and benefits, including housing. Universities and other HEIs prepare their own budgets, submit them to the Ministry of Education, and receive block grants annually for their expenditures.

Primary education is free. There is a nominal fee for secondary and junior college level education of less than US$5.00 per month. The preschool education is subsidized by the state to the extent of about 50 percent of the cost. The government-aided schools receive a subsidy up to 50 percent of the costs of development and a portion of their operating budgets depending on the number of students enrolled.

As for higher education, there are a number of scholarships and "bursaries" provided by the Ministry of Education to those who cannot afford the cost. A major initiative in educational finance involving planning and cooperation by parents has been the EduSave Account introduced in 1993. Under the scheme, the Ministry of Education deposited a certain amount of subsidy, approved by the parliament from year to year in the child's Edu-Save Account, which could be used by the child's parents to pay for enrichment and remedial classes or saved for the child's higher education. Children covered by the scheme range from 6 to 16 years of age.

Additional topics

Education - Free Encyclopedia Search EngineGlobal Education ReferenceSingapore - History Background, Constitutional Legal Foundations, Educational System—overview, Preprimary Primary Education, Secondary Education