Compulsory Attendance Ages
6 years of education required between ages 6 and 15.
Children who are homeschooled or who attend full-time religious institutions can be exempted from the CEA, but parents must apply for exemption from the Ministry of Education and satisfy the relevant criteria in the CEA. One of the criteria when giving exemption for regular attendance in schools is the requirement to sit for the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE). For example, the first batch of Madrasah students (i.e. students from Islamic religious educational institutions under the purview of the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS) ) sat for the PSLE in 2008 and 98 percent qualified to progress to secondary school (Jamil, 2010). This occurred as a result of a conscious effort by MUIS to adopt initiatives from the Ministry of Education such as information technology and national education, and to ensure that Madrash teachers are appropriately trained at the National Institute of Education with critical pedagogical skills (Jamil, 2010).
Only a small number of parents in Singapore choose to homeschool their children. The exact number is not known, but as of 5 November 2010, the number of homeschoolers in Asia (namely Macau, China, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong and Jakarta, Indonesia) enrolled with Teach-Asia is 300 (HSLDA, 2011). Teach-Asia is an organization based in Singapore that provides Accelerated Christian Education materials and services to schools and home schools in Asia (Teach-Asia, 2011).
To be granted exemption from compulsory education, these parents have to furnish information on their home-based curriculum, which must demonstrate that the two key objectives of compulsory education are being met in the absence of mainstream schooling. These objectives are to give their children:
- A common core of knowledge which will provide a strong foundation for further education and training to prepare them for a knowledge-based economy; and
- A common educational experience which will help to build national identity and cohesion (Ministry of Education, 2011c).
Where children are exempted from compulsory education, a certificate is issued to indicate the same. The application requirements for exemption include information on the curriculum and educational outcomes of the homeschooling program, and how the child will receive instruction in National Education (Ministry of Education, 2011d).
Going to school and sitting in a classroom with dozens of other children? Not for some children in Singapore!