Singapore’s high school students have been named the smartest among any in the world, according to a recent international assessment. To obtain this vaunted title, the entire country has put education as a top priority, with an accompanying educational philosophy that other countries would do well to emulate, including valuing more than the memorization of facts, and sourcing quality teachers. Impressively, the country has made most of its academic gains in the past forty to fifty years as a result of this prioritizing. Read on for the elements of Singapore’s high school student academic success.
In the 1970s, as Singapore veered towards high tech jobs and economic prosperity, the country began to look forward in its educational goals and planned for a world-class and globally useful educational system that values creativity as well as knowledge. And while Singapore’s teenagers are the age group pinpointed in the assessment, the country’s learning efforts and ethos begin in preschool, where the schools view it as their duty to form a strong foundation in order to build resilient and confident young people. As children get older, the educational system continues to emphasize not just rote memorization and the acquisition of knowledge, but also its real world application. Notably, the teachers in Singapore are drawn from a pool of the best students coming out of high schools, thus ensuring the continuity of a quality education for future students. The goal of an excellent education for all has indeed become a national goal: according to the education director for the international assessment organization, Singaporean parents and grandparents save their resources and money for children’s school and “in all tiers of public policy, education comes first.”