Study in SG

Comparison of Education in Malaysia and Singapore

When one compares education in Malaysia and Singapore, there are several interesting facts which must be noted. In several education-related statistics, the two countries do not differ much. For example, the functional literacy rate of adults in Malaysia is 92.1%. In Singapore, this rate is 94.5%; thus, the rates of the two countries do not differ much. The two countries also have similar levels of public spending on education. In Malaysia, this figure stands at 21.3%. In Singapore, the level of education-related public spending is 22.7%.

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However, in several other areas, there is clear evidence that the educational system of Singapore is superior to that of its northern neighbour. For example, according to the latest statistics, 28.7% of Singapore’s total male labour force possess tertiary educational qualifications. In contrast, just 20% of their Malaysian counterparts do so. The level of tertiary enrolment in Malaysia is 28.2%, placing the country 45th in the world in this statistic. However, in Singapore, this figure is 33.7%. Singapore is ranked third in the world in tertiary enrolment.

Perhaps the most obvious evidence of the superiority of Singapore’s educational system can be seen through its outstanding international test results. The most well-known international examination used to compare students around the world is the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). According to the results from the most recent edition of PISA, Singapore’s students ranked second in the world in mathematics, science, and reading. On the other hand, Malaysia’s students ranked 48th, 49th, and 57th respectively in each of these subjects. Thus, the educational system of Singapore has been proven to be far more successful than Malaysia’s, as various statistics, metrics, and results have borne out.

Unique Features of Singapore’s Educational System

There are several features of Singapore’s educational system which have served to make it as successful and productive as it is today. For example, students in Singapore typically study through the transmission of conventional knowledge in each subject to generate an enhanced level of examination performance. Worksheets, textbooks, and mastery and understanding of processes and procedures are given prime importance in Singaporean schools. The worksheets and textbooks used are based on the material used as part of the country’s national curriculum.

Singapore’s students also receive considerable amounts of emotional and social support while in school. In every school in Singapore, school counsellors work closely with the management of the school. Such is the case in order for proper counselling systems to be implemented across the school. In this way, quality counselling can be provided to the students who require it.

Singapore’s school counsellors are therefore able to identify students who are at high risk in emotional and social areas. They will then provide them with assistance so that their issues will be resolved adequately. The counsellors will also remain in contact with such students’ parents to keep the parents informed about the students’ condition, provide them with updates, and encourage their involvement throughout the process.

Teachers in Singapore also receive a significant amount of training. Every teacher in Singapore will have been trained at the National Institute of Education (NIE). The training which is provided at the NIE is specific to subjects and emphasizes mastery of content above all else. After completion of their course at the NIE, teachers enter the Beginning Teacher program. This program provides new teachers with support at both the school and national levels.

Singapore’s schools also devote a great deal of time to the professional development of their teachers. This professional development allows the teachers to truly excel in their role. These are just some reasons why it should come as no surprise that teachers in Singapore’s schools are generally able to deliver a superior level of education than are their counterparts in most other countries of the world.


Malaysian Students Who Should Consider Education in Singapore

It is understandable that not every Malaysian student might necessarily be able or willing to study in Singapore. There are several difficulties associated with studying abroad; studying in Singapore as a Malaysian is no exception. For this reason, the number of Malaysians who are studying in Singapore today is not as large as it potentially could be.

However, there are two groups of Malaysian students who should particularly consider studying in Singapore. This is because such students are uniquely positioned to take advantage of Singapore’s outstanding educational system.

The first group of Malaysian students who should be encouraged to study in Singapore is comprised of students who live in and around the Johor Bahru area. Johor Bahru is the second-largest city in Malaysia. It is located on the country’s southern coast; Singapore lies just across the sea from it. Johor Bahru is connected to Singapore by way of a land bridge. There is also a rail service connecting Johor Bahru and Singapore.

Thus, it is not difficult for students who live in Johor Bahru or other nearby towns to study in Singapore. Unsurprisingly, many Malaysian parents who live in the area today already send their children to Singaporean schools so that their children will reap the many benefits of its educational system.

Another group of Malaysian students who should consider studying in Singapore is comprised of those in or about to enter tertiary education. It cannot be denied that some of Malaysia’s universities are some of the most respected in the Asia-Pacific region. Among these are Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), and Malaysia’s most prestigious university: Universiti Malaya (UM).

However, each of these universities pales in comparison to Singapore’s National University of Singapore (NUS) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU). NUS is ranked as the best university in Asia, while NTU is ranked third in the continent. Malaysian university students are also advantaged by the fact that Singapore’s best universities are much closer to home than are other universities of similar international stature. Therefore, Singaporean universities are an extremely viable option for any prospective Malaysian student.


What a Malaysian Student Must Do Before Studying in Singapore

There are certain procedures to be completed by any Malaysian student who intends to study in Singapore. Just as is the case with foreign students of any other nationality, Malaysian primary or secondary school students who plan to study in Singapore must complete and attain an acceptable result in the Admissions Exercise for International Students (AEIS) or the Supplementary Admissions Exercise for International Students (S-AEIS).

However, this is not the case for students who are to enter either Primary 1 or a junior college. Information for international students entering Primary 1 is provided on the Ministry of Education’s website. Those who are to enter a junior college are to directly apply to the junior college in question during the application period.

Any foreign student who is to commence tertiary education in Singapore must have completed 12 years of primary and secondary education. Such a student is also required to have completed an official secondary school-level qualification as well as a base level of proficiency in English. There are also specific university courses which require the completion of certain tests. Others require a minimum with regard to entry grades or marks. Still others might have different entry requirements; for these reasons, all would-be tertiary students in Singapore are encouraged to do their own research on how they could enter their respective course of study.

According to Singapore’s current immigration laws, all foreign students in Singapore who study in a government, government-aided, or independent school are to possess a Student’s Pass. Applications for a Student’s Pass are to be made online. Exceptions exist for those who own either a Dependant’s Pass or an Immigration Exemption Order. Further clarification on this matter may be provided by the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority.

The Singaporean authorities prioritize foreign students’ health and safety as well as those of all others in their school or university. Therefore, all prospective foreign students in Singapore who are aged 12 or below are to be appropriately vaccinated before receiving a Student’s Pass. The vaccinations required by the Ministry of Health are those against measles and diphtheria.

After providing evidence that they have been vaccinated, these students are first to receive a Verification of Vaccination Requirement which is issued by the Health Promotion Board. Only after this step is completed may they proceed with the Student’s Pass application.



There are many valid reasons why any Malaysian student who is willing and able should seriously consider studying in Singapore. Although many successful people have come through Malaysia’s educational system, the fact remains that education in Singapore is superior to education in Malaysia. Studying in Singapore will therefore provide Malaysian students with an advantage in their future careers and lives. The initial adjustment period may sometimes be difficult; however, the rewards which result will last a lifetime.