Sir Manasseh Meyer International School (SMMIS) is Singapore’s only international school based on Jewish values, St. Joseph's Institution International is the city-state’s only Catholic international school, and International Community School (ICS) is the most established-Christian school here. There are other designated religious schools in Singapore – but these three are by far the largest and most international.
Other options include faith-based private schools and academies that enrol a mix of local and foreign students. They are typically much smaller than an international school, recruit teachers largely from mainstream Singaporean schools, offer all or part of the Singaporean curriculum, have lower fees, and follow a January to December academic year. There are also faith-based Ministry of Education-run schools, such as Geylang Methodist School (Primary) and St Joseph’s Institution School, but there are restrictions on enrolment for expat students.
While SMMIS, SJI International and ICS each offer an education imbued with the values, tradition and culture of their religion, they are all truly international schools that welcome many students from all faiths and nationalities. At SSMIS, students can choose between an intensive Jewish education which is taught in Hebrew, or follow a World Religions curriculum together with Mandarin. At SJI International, children are welcomed from all backgrounds and faiths, but there are many opportunities for Catholic children to explore and deepen their faith. And at ICS students can pursue a US-styled education that is based on Christian values; all students attend Bible class four days a week.
The advantages of attending an international school that is affiliated to your religion are more obvious. They offer your child a solid understanding of their faith through an everyday exposure to religion and a strong values-based education. Why should a family of different faith consider a Christian or Catholic school in Singapore though? Well, the benefits are not just religious in nature and, as with any international school, they should be judged on their quality of teaching, facilities, school community, and academic results.
Other questions to ask a faith school include:
Curriculum: IPC, IMYC, UK National Curriculum, Singaporean maths, IGCSEs
Enrolment: Nursery to Grade 10 (Grades 11-12 from 2020-21)
Admissions: Over 20 nationalities; SMMIS welcomes students from all faiths and those with a secular background
Average annual tuition fees: $22,000
Unique features: Choice of an intensive Jewish education which is taught in Hebrew, or a World Religions curriculum together with Mandarin; large modern campus for small student body of up to 500; International Primary Curriculum; affordable tuition fees
Sir Manasseh Meyer International School (SMMIS) is a homegrown, all-through school that combines all the familiarity and community feel of a small school with Jewish values, tradition and culture. It has a modern, well-equipped and welcoming campus in Sembawang, ‘affordable’ tuition fees of an average $22,000, and a creative and inquiry-led curriculum that works towards IGCSEs.
The school balances being a faith and an international school by offering families a choice – an intensive Jewish education which is taught in Hebrew, or a World Religions curriculum together with Mandarin. The message from SMMIS is very clear: don’t miss the opportunity to have its values-based education because your family is not Jewish as SMMIS is made up of over 22 nationalities and students come from more than six faiths.
Read our full review of Sir Manasseh Meyer International School (SMMIS)
Curriculum: Singaporean maths, International Primary Curriculum (IPC), UK National Curriculum, IGCSEs, IBDP
Enrolment: Prep to Grade 12
Annual tuition: $30,500
Unique features: January to December academic year, one of Singapore’s top-performing schools for the IBDP, impressive multi-purpose sports complex, on-campus chapel; scholarships available, Virtues Project focused on “building children of character”
St. Joseph's Institution International offers an all-through education that is “firmly rooted in the Catholic faith”. It has a strong academic record in IGCSEs and the IBDP and, as one of seven Lasallian schools in Singapore, SJI International is also focused on pastoral care. There are there are many opportunities for Catholic children to explore and deepen their faith: the study of Lasallian tradition and heritage within the RE curriculum; weekly catechism classes; weekly Mass on Fridays and the sacraments of first Reconciliation and First Communion are among many events celebrated in the school’s own Chapel; and a Catholic Parent Support Group.
With children from 40 nationalities at the school, the school community does include “families from many different cultures, faiths and traditions” and “the culture, faith and traditions of each child are respected and celebrated”. SJI International is one of three local international schools in Singapore; while at least half of their students must be Singaporean, these schools tend to have a very international student community. Priority is given to applications from Catholic families (you’ll need to show your child’s baptism certificate).
Read our full review of St. Joseph's Institution International
Curriculum: US curriculum based upon Common Core State Standards for English and Mathematics, and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS); Advanced Placement and US high school diploma
Enrolment: KG - Grade 12
Admissions: 68% of the students are Christian, but all religious beliefs welcomed
Annual tuition: $29,000
Unique features: US curriculum; very active Parent Teacher Fellowship; low-student-teacher ratio; small class sizes; families who are involved in full-time Christian service can receive a "substantial discount" on their school fees
With more than 25 years’ experience, this Christian school delivers an American-based college preparatory curriculum to children from kindergarten through to high school. Proudly committed to a “Christ-centred education”, ICS is a non-profit school with small class sizes of around 15 students and a low teacher to student ratio of 7:1. With around 450 students representing more than 20 nationalities, ICS offers a solid US-style education to students in kindergarten, middle and high school.
All students attend Bible class four days a week, elementary students have a weekly chapel meeting, and there’s an annual Spiritual Emphasis Week. Children are often heard singing worship songs on the school bus home, and many of the teachers are “Christian educators”. While 68% of the students are Christian, the school does welcome families of all religious beliefs.
Read our full review of International Community School (ICS)
Curriculum: Singapore MOE curriculum
Annual tuition: $8,400 (International)
Madrasah Aljunied Al-Islamiah is a private Islamic secondary school that is popular with Singapore’s Muslim community looking for a local education combined with high standards of Arabic.
The curricula is geared towards Islamic subjects and lessons are predominantly taught in Arabic language. Teaching follow the Singapore MOE curriculum, and students are either in the four-year Express stream or in the five-year Normal stream; both streams take O Level exams. As part of the admissions process students are tested on their Arabic and English skills.
Curriculum: Cambridge Primary, IGCSEs, IBDP, Western Australian Certificate of Education (WACE), A Levels
Enrolment: Years 1-12
Admissions: A cohort of around 750 local and expat students from more than 20 countries
Average annual tuition fees: $19.848 – 27,071
As well as offering a UK-based primary education, St Francis Methodist School has designed a unique, secondary curriculum based on Singaporean and international curricula; academic programmes include IGCSEs, A Levels, the IBDP, and the Western Australian Certificate of Education (WACE).
Located next to the new Hillview MRT station, SFMS is a small campus with basic facilities – although it has recently opened a new learning resource centre. Where the school really shines, however, is in its holistic education that focuses as much on pastoral care, moral values and non-academic activities as it does on exam results.
Read our full review of St Francis Methodist School
Curriculum: The School of Tomorrow curriculum developed by Accelerated Christian Education; students work towards a US high school diploma
Enrolment: Elementary to Grade 12
Average annual tuition fees: $8,988
VKCS says that, “we are passionate about developing our students’ academic prowess, training them in the ways of our Lord and building their character through the 60 Christ-like character traits training and impartation”.
Curriculum: The Accelerated Christian Education program developed by the School of Tomorrow of the USA
Enrolment: Elementary to Grade 10
Average annual tuition fees: $12,000
Describing itself as a private Christian school, TLS Academy says, “We endeavour to provide support for home-schoolers and students seeking a Christian and a more holistic curriculum.”
Curriculum: The Accelerated Christian Education program developed by the School of Tomorrow of the USA, plus MOE curriculum (PSLE and GCE O Level)
Enrolment: Primary 1 to Secondary 4
Admissions: Multi-racial and multi-religion population, coming from Singapore and at least 20 other different countries
Average annual tuition fees: $12,140 – 14,600 (international students)
San Yu Adventist School delivers the Singapore curriculum based on Seventh-day Adventist Christian values; as a Christian school, Bible Knowledge is a compulsory subject and chapel attendance is mandatory.