An Indonesian Guide to Study in Singapore

An Indonesian Guide to Study in Singapore

Singapore is an attractive education hub among the ASEAN countries with a world class education system and recognised degrees. In a Jakarta post published in March 2009, it is reported that though there is a growing number of Indonesian students studying in Singapore, some students felt the stress of studying due to the language barrier and competitive nature among students especially in junior colleges and universities. For this guide, we not only look into how to study in Singapore as an Indonesian student but also how to do so with less stress and more fun.

Let’s begin by understanding both the Indonesian and Singapore education systems. 

Education Systems & Syllabus

In Indonesia, its 12 years education system is mainly divided into Primary (Grade 1 to 6), Junior Secondary (Grade 7 to 9) and Higher Secondary (Grade 10 to 12), in which both Primary and Junior Secondary education are compulsory.

In Singapore, the education system is divided mainly into 6 years of primary education and 4 to 5 years of secondary education plus 2 years of junior college or 3 years of polytechnic studies.

A Grade 9 education in Indonesia’s Junior Secondary education is equivalent to a Secondary 3 education in Singapore.

GCE O-Level and GCE A-Level examinations are conducted in Singapore at the secondary 4 and junior college year 2 levels respectively. Secondary school examinations are very different. In Indonesia, the National Examination (Ujian [Akhir] Nasional – UN/UAN) is set by the Ministry of National Education.

So does it mean a completion of Grade 9 means an auto inclusion into secondary 4 level of Singapore education system? The answer is a yes and a no.

Well, this is because a good foundation in Mathematics and English proficiency is required at every level of Singapore’s education syllabus from primary to university level. Indonesian students who are looking to fare well academically in Singapore have to build their foundation in Mathematics and English early or risk having a stressful time. Though earlier the better, the recommended option would be to spend a year after Grade 9 to build one’s foundation in Mathematics and English before taking the GCE O-Levels exam. A strong foundation in both Mathematics and English will lead to a less ‘stressful’ time than what was mentioned in the Jakarta Post article.

Private Schools in Singapore and Foundation Building

A key factor is finding a good school in Singapore that focuses on the following two things. Firstly, on developing your education path in order to receive the best possible quality education you can receive either in Singapore or in renowned universities overseas. Secondly, is to build a strong foundation in your Mathematics skills set and English proficiency while ensuring you advance consistently along the education path.

A registered private school in Singapore would relatively be a better choice for Indonesian students as they would be able to take courses with a stronger focus on Mathematics and English foundation while preparing for their upcoming O-Levels or A-Levels examinations; compared to a public school where the pace of study is much faster due to it catering mainly for students. Another reason for choosing a private school is the building of camaraderie among the foreign students community which will lead to better communication and cooperation.

Selecting a Private Institution in Singapore

It is important for students to research on their preferred private schools thoroughly before making a decision. Some schools may offer “fast track” education options to quicken your path to a university degree but this may not be suitable for all depending on your academic capability and learning capacity. Therefore, it is paramount to find a private school that focuses on individual student development thus making sure all their students are on the right track to receiving quality education and world recognised degrees. Prioritise schools with good track records in getting their foreign students into renowned tertiary institutes both locally and overseas.

A second factor to consider when selecting a private school is whether they have other value-added services that can aid in your academic progression. Things to consider include the offering of courses which prepare you for other tests that will be required for overseas university admission, such as language proficiency courses for IELTS (International English Language Test System) and TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language), and being a certified test center for those language tests and popular university admissions tests such as A.C.T (American College Testing) and S.A.T (Scholastic Aptitude Test). These factors will ensure foreign students receive a total education package that provides them with the necessary aptitude and qualifications for higher studies.

A third factor for consideration is the providence of co-curricular activities. This is essential because renowned universities see an active participation rate in co-curricular activities as one of its criteria for university entry too.

Essentials for Students-to-Be from Indonesia

Singapore is a fast paced society with a multi-racial culture and modern infrastructure. As a foreign student from Indonesia, you may need to know some of these essential tips during your study and course of stay in Singapore.

  1. Language

English is the main form of contact that is often used in most parts of communication. The second languages in Singapore are Chinese, Malay and Tamil. Bahasa Indonesian cannot be understood even among the Malay community. Therefore, it is important for you to be learned in both written and spoken English proficiency.

  1. Indonesia Embassy Contact

7 Chatsworth Road Singapore 249671

Telephone: (65) 6737 7422


  1. Culture, Race and Religion

Singapore government emphasizes much on building a cohesive and conducive environment for everybody. Hence, everyone is tolerant of individual culture, race and religion. It is important not to publish any posts or remarks that are sensitive to race and religions of the country.

  1. Cost of Living

Singapore was rated as one of the most expensive countries in the world. However, in terms of necessities, such as food and clothing, they are still very affordable.

  1. Food

Just like the colourful racial harmony, Singapore is a haven for a wide variety of savory cuisines from authentic Malay cuisine, Hainanese Chicken rice, Indian’s roti prata and many many more!

  1. World Class Universities

Singapore’s public universities such as National University of Singapore (NUS) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU) are ranked among some of the world’s best. To study in these top class universities, a good foundation in English and Mathematics coupled with good results in the GCE A-Level examination is essential.

In summary, Singapore is one of the best education hubs for internationally mobile students from Indonesia due to its world recognised education, world-class universities as well as a lively and colourful culture. Visit Singapore today!