After passing their 'O' or 'N' Levels, there are many paths for students to take after completing their Secondary education. However, most people would choose to continue their education at a Junior College (JC) if possible. This is because JCs provide the most direct route to University out of all the choices, unless you go to a specialized private institute for further studies on your particular field, in which you most probably do not intend to go to university.
There are 17 JCs in Singapore. They provide a two-year education for their students in preparation for the GCE 'A' Levels Examinations as well as entrance to a university. The curriculum of a JC is structured so that its focus is of both intellectual and mental discipline in order to allow their students to become independent and self directed learners, requisitions for university studies.
At the end of their JC education, they will receive their GCE 'A' Level certificate, this certificate is internationally recognized by universities all over the world and a student who has obtained excellent results for their 'A' Levels definitely has a good chance of entering a university.
In general, the education provided in JCs aim to broaden the outlook and strengthen the character of the students as well as give them an opportunity to study their specialize subjects in depth and give them adequate grounding for university education.
History of Junior Colleges
In 1965, the Prime Minister then Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, now Minister Mentor, proposed a form of education to cater to the talented and capable students who would like to extend their capabilities and stretch their limits, determined to broaden their mind and discipline themselves for university education and life beyond. This was how the concept of JCs was first proposed.
The concept of JCs was to also have highly-trained specialists and talents of their various fields to teach and educate these students, allowing them to get the best education possible. This is for the purpose of stimulating their minds and encouraging them to strive for greater heights in their education, to excel in their studies, characters all students should have in their pursuit of education. In such an environment of intellectual advancement and exchange, men and women of great character and leadership potential could then be developed as they learn to take charge of their independent learning and improve their social skills.
In 1969, visions were made into reality and the first JC was established. Six more JCs were established in the ‘70s, eight more popped out during the ‘80s and the two newest ones were established in the ‘90s.
Characteristics of Junior Colleges
A secondary student who enters JC would realize that there are many differences between JCs and secondary schools but the most striking one would have to be the flexibility shown in the subjects which the students study. Unlike secondary school or primary school where you have to study a number of compulsory content-based subjects, in JCs, it is believed that you have the basic foundation of the different types of knowledge and thus, have the maturity and wisdom to decide which ones you have interest in and want to specialize in.
Students in JC gets to choose which subjects they want to specialize through the different subject streams and choose what they want to learn, rather than what they have to learn. They are allowed to develop in their chosen path and to explore what it has in store of them. They are given the opportunity to look at the world with a broader perspective, seeing how his discipline contributes and shapes the world.
JCs also employ a lecture and tutorial system based on each JC’s organization due to the various subject combinations available. This also shows flexibility and provides the students with opportunities to meet and know various groups and improve their social skills.
There are also study periods interspersed between classes. This gives the students an opportunity to head down to the library or other various studying facilities available in the faculty to do independent research or conduct group discussions to improve and revise on what the have learnt. This helps the JC student to be independent and active in their studies, as well as promote a cohesive learning environment.
Entering a Junior College
In order to qualify for the admittance into a JC, students must obtain less than 20 points in their L1R5 during the GCE 'O' Level Examinations at the end of their secondary school education.
A secondary student who is eligible to enter a JC is considered the crème de la crème of his cohort as it is not easy to achieve the results needed for entering a JC. There is also further competition among the 17 JCs, filtering out the "elites" of the batch.
School Fees and Scholarships
Students in JCs have to pay a subsidized school fee of S$6.00 a month and miscellaneous fees which is used to pay for the cost of printing materials, school equipment, organized special programmes etc. These miscellaneous fees vary from schools to schools, usually from S$9.00 up to S$22.00 each month. However, some JCs such as Raffles Junior College and Hwa Chong Junior College have became independent from the government and as such, students would have to pay a much higher school fee per month, which can be as much as S$300.00.
However, there are scholarships and bursaries given to students attending these independent JCs to help them cope with the school fees. Students from 95th percentile and above during the 'O' Level Examinations receive scholarships which allow them to pay the school fees of a normal non-independent JC. Bursaries cater to students who are in need of financial assistance, where they would only need to pay a fraction of the original school fee. This fraction is inversely proportionate to the difference between the student’s monthly household income and the average Singaporean household income per month. Thus, the bigger the difference of your household income as compared to the average household income, the less you would have to pay.