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Last Updated: 18 October 2021

Overview of compulsory education

All Singapore Citizens born after 1 January 1996 and living in Singapore must attend a national primary school unless an exemption is granted. Learn more about compulsory education, exemptions and deferment to enter Primary 1.

What is compulsory education (CE)?

CE is defined as education in national primary schools for Singapore Citizens residing in Singapore under the Compulsory Education Act 2000 (CE Act 2000).

Your child must attend a national primary school regularly if they are:
  • Of compulsory school age (above 6 years old and under 15 years old).
  • A Singapore Citizen.
  • Born after 1 January 1996.
  • Living in Singapore.
For the purpose of CE, national primary schools refer to:
  • Government or government-aided primary schools.
  • Government-funded special education schools offering primary level education.

Objectives of compulsory education

CE aims to help every child attain:
  • Common knowledge that will provide a firm foundation for further education.
  • Common school experiences that will help build national identity and encourage social cohesion.

Compulsory education for children with special educational needs

CE also applies to children with moderate to severe special educational needs born after 1 January 2012.

Parents will be able to fulfil their CE obligations by enrolling their child in a government-funded special education (SPED) school and ensuring that they complete their primary education there.

If your child is unable to attend any national primary school due to their medical condition or disability, you must apply for an exemption with supporting documents.

Penalties for non-compliance

Parents may be guilty of an offence if their child fails to attend a national primary school regularly unless the child is exempted from CE, or they are able to present a prescribed reason for their child's absence to the satisfaction of the Director-General of Education within a reasonable time.

If convicted, a parent shall be liable to a fine not exceeding $5,000, or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months, or to both.
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