Another Singaporean Mum Ponders Over Singapore vs Australia Education

Hi Nix, may I introduce myself...I'm D and we just recieved PR status and are feeling very thankful we are given an option and opportunity to live outta Singapore. Both husband and I are MOE secondary sch teachers. Quit my job to focus on my kids esp when my daughter started P1 last year. I see the struggles kids here have and question the need and purpose of end product in this ridiculous system. My daughter is currently in XX primary 2 struggling. Partly because she is mildly dyslexic and dyspraxic( clumsy in fine motor skills.." lunchun". My son is in Kindy 2. Im having fears and mixed feelings abt simply planting them into the aust system. no clues which schools there are okay whether to only look for schools for special needs where support and compassion is shown for students of such etc even though im still trying to do my research and google. I feel so clueless which part of Perth to rent a place n sch etc. Her teachers and tutors are advising me not to go till her foundation in schooling is strong meaning past PSLE. My thoughts are thats exactly what i want to avoid! Dont think my daughter can survive till P6! they tell me if i do leave never to hope to return to singapore to continue edu here for sure cant catch up. Cld you share with me yr thoughts? Im 80% wanting to go already but the confusion on which schools and which area is friendly for dyslexic kids is giving me cold sweat. I went to Aust tourism board n begged for a large road map where i pin on my wall at hm now. Im also having jitters coz my husband will not be settling there with us coz his current pay is alot more reassuring here in Singapore as a senior teacher. Also he still needs to settle his bank stuff for next couple of years so we are more comfortable in Perth when he finally joins. So its just me and the 2 young kids. Any advice on how i may find some support when i arrive plsss? Will love to be in touch with a fellow Singapore with kids and happily settled. i do Feel rather lost and clueless which way to go exactly. Thanks a million in advance and grateful if you cld spare some precious time in reply! 



Hi D,

In April 2012, a Singaporean lady sent me a short email inquiring about a similar topic. Eventually we brought our conversations to whatsapp and I spent many mid nights communicating with her during my break at work, when I was working night shift as trade assistant in a metal fabrication factory back then. Later on, she made a trip with her son and bunked in with us for a week.

The Singaporean lady, M, met Jen and I the first time when she stepped into our rental house, looking visibly cold and slightly shaken, a rabbit caught in headlights. Still, she tried to be friendly and even insisted to wash plates after dinner. For the entire week, she went around Perth (sometimes with my wife's company) to conduct her qualitative research of what she termed as the 'big picture'. Call it what you want, gut feel, motherly instinct or the greener grass syndrome, M made up her made on the move and decided on Perth over Melbourne as her destination. Your email to me was a stark remainder of M's chain of thoughts before she came. You can read them here.

Three years on,

Please understand I am not sharing M's story to tell you that "this could be you." In fact, I would like to take the opportunity to emphasize that emigration is not for everyone. The trials that someone like M had to go through were challenging. You must be mentally prepared to handle something of similar magnitude should you decide to move. However, you will be lucky enough to be introduced to M (I asked and she agreed) if you end up coming to Perth. At least you have a friend who had walked a similar path to start off with. That is the support you asked for.

My thoughts that you wanted me to share are as follow;

I'm a strict believer of being prudent with money. Since you have spent a few thousand dollars to get your Australian Permanent Residence, you move. In my opinion, nobody will part with a large sum of money and apply for a PR visa elsewhere for the fun of it. You must have spent considerable thinking before doing so, prior to application. However you are bothered by the remaining doubts in your mind.

I had a conversation with Singaporean mum, M, who thought your daughter's condition is not "serious enough" to warrant a drastic move like emigration. In fact, it is rumored that Mr Lee Kuan Yew and one of his grandson are dyslexic as well but it didn't stop him from achieving enough greatness to break the MOE rule to enroll his grandson in an American school in Singapore at will. [link] That's enough to convince me to agree with Singaporean mum, M. However, not everyone is Lee Kuan Yew and some of us will suffer under an education system like Singapore's. Most importantly, no one will understand the needs of your own children more than yourself. So are you going to listen to tutors or yourself? If you think that your child will not make it to P6 if you stay put, why would you want to be concerned with her catching up should you return to Singapore after a migration U-turn? I cried a little when I board the plane because deep in my mind, I knew there was no return for me (although it still remains logistically possible till today) I find it very difficult to return to a life of the weary memories of Singapore in my mind.

Unlike many Singaporean parents, I have a very simple mindset about education. This mindset was formed by my own experience as a product of the Singapore education system. I wasn't brilliant in school, nowhere close in fact but I was one of those who would pass my exams without paying attention in class, copying my homework from the others and studying last minute. My results were mediocre but enough for me to graduate from university with only a cheap second class honours. What next? I have a few papers to show off to employers but little substance to prove my capabilities because I have wasted all those years memorizing things to pass exams only to "还给老师" (return to teacher) the moment I left the examinations hall. As a result, I lost many years of learning which will no doubt make me a better person. I wasn't interested in learning, only to pass exams. The school and teachers did not bother to explain the true meaning of learning as long as we passed our exams and did not drag down the school average. My parents left me alone because I graduated from Primary, Secondary and my tertiary schools. My experience convinced me that I should guide my child so that she understands the meaning of learning and focus on getting the most of her education. I do not view examinations results as a podium.

Is it worth investing everything we've got, including our kids' childhood on the paper chase? Another mother told me the paper chase opens more doors. While good results in early life may not lead to a good life in Singapore but without good results, they'll be likely to face a difficult life in the future. I respectfully disagree with her views. In reality, after our children graduate from school, their success depends on their working attitudes and capabilities. The paper opens some doors in the beginning not beyond that. (unless of course, that door leads to the PAP HQ) While we are obsessed in getting good results in examination halls at all cost, it is important not to do so at the cost of other important aspects of a child's development. Traits of a successful person, if I may put it this way. An ability to grind out results in exams does not necessarily equate to a person's interest in learning. Once he or she is out of the examination environment (i.e graduate), his further self improvement stops (I was a bad example) A person with good examination results does not necessary have the ability to present him or herself with confidence, lead strongly and motivate a team to produce extraordinary performance. In reality, these are what employers pay for at the end of the day, not the result slips in the folder.

The question for you is whether you think Australia or Singapore is a better environment to develop your child's potential in a way that you can  resonate with. I'll leave you to think it over. If you want to have a chat with Singaporean M, please contact me at


  1. D
    If you have decided to come to Perth, then the following may be helpful:
    1. Schools have compulsory catchment areas ie if you stay in a particular suburb, the schools in that suburb will have to take your children if you register with them. You need to show proof of course; documents like utility bills
    2. Generally suburbs with higher SES (socio economic status) tend to have better schools. You can check this at; look for Index of Community Socio-Educational Advantage (ICSEA); the average is 1000. Example Oberthur Primary has an ICSEA of 1152, Attadale is another one with above average ICSEA. Of course the rent is higher in such suburbs. Look for a handful of these
    3. Scan the real estate websites for places to rent in your list. You would need references; people who know you well enough (basically it's about whether or not you have enough money to pay the rent for the duration of the lease 6 or 12-months)
    Good luck!

  2. By all means, please take the risk to let your kids study in Australia. Good luck!

    1. If you think letting kids study in Australia is risky, why don't you list your arguments ?

  3. Education system has failed in sg for some reasons since many PMEs have to retrain and retrain. Hardly heard Australia PMEs need all those retraining. Anyway, nothing to lose, no harm trying. Different systems suit different people.

  4. I'm in Melbourne. If I'm not wrong, there are teacher aids in school and the school can deploy them to the classroom to support the kids who need them. In fact, most people here will think it is "horrible" if they do not receive the much needed support.
    My wife and I are also sec school teachers, and with God's blessings, we were able to find teaching jobs in good schools fairly quickly. However, there are many many applicants and I have to admit it is not easy to find teaching jobs as competition is stiff. You also need to "fit" the culture, something very important to the Aussies.
    All the best to your journey.

    1. Hi Linearlaw
      My family is also in the process of making a move to mel. Hub is main breadwinner and is in the education field. How soon did u get a teaching job? Did u start applying while in sgp?