In January 1986, the Ministry of Education launched a pilot project in 20 schools to study the impact of a Single Session System. The study found many benefits from implementing such a system in schools since school facilities are used by only one session of students. With access to school resources and facilities for the whole day, schools enjoyed greater flexibility in timetabling and could introduce more after-school enrichment programmes such as remedial lessons and extra-curricular activities. The study also reported better coordination and consultation among school staff, closer bonds between teachers and pupils formed over informal and organised school activities that took place after school hours, as well as a more cohesive school community as the entire student body and staff could come together. In view of the positive results, the education ministry decided to implement the Single Session System in all schools. In the initial phase, the ministry targeted to roll out the scheme to all secondary schools by 1994. This was later revised to 2000.
The Double Session System was introduced in Singapore schools in 1957 to address the shortage of schools. To ensure that every child of school-going age had the opportunity to receive an education, school facilities were maximised by holding two school sessions in a day.
Prior to the pilot study in 1986, the Ministry of Education had implemented a trial for a single session scheme in 1983. It was, however, unsuccessful because students were tired and could not concentrate due to the long school hours that ran from 7.30 am to 2.30 pm or 3.30 pm. Working parents also found the dismissal time inconvenient. In January 1986, the ministry reintroduced the single session initiative with the usual morning session hours, but designated the afternoons for extra-curricular activities which typically ended by 3 pm or 4 pm. The one-year pilot study on 20 schools covered a mix of primary and secondary schools of various sizes, ages, and popularity. The pilot was successful this time round. To implement the Single Session System in all secondary schools, the construction of schools was ramped up and about 10 to 12 schools were built every year over a period of 6 to 7 years at a total cost of S$2 billion. The number of principals was also increased and some 4,500 additional teachers were recruited. By January 2000, all secondary schools were operating on a single session model.
In April 2009, the government extended the single session model to all primary schools when it accepted the recommendations of the Primary Education Review and Implementation (PERI) Committee to convert all double session government and government-aided primary schools to single session schools by 2016.
1. Singapore. Parliament. Parliamentary Debates: Official Report. (1987, March 19). Main and development estimates of Singapore for the financial year 1st April, 1987 to 31st March, 1988 (Vol. 49, cols. 611–614). Retrieved May 16, 2014, from Parliament of Singapore website: http://sprs.parl.gov.sg/search/report.jsp?currentPubID=00069533-ZZ
2. Singapore. Parliament. Parliamentary Debates: Official Report. (1997, May 26). Addenda to presidential address at the opening of the first session of the ninth parliament (Vol. 67, col. 23). Retrieved May 16, 2014, from Parliament of Singapore website: http://sprs.parl.gov.sg/search/report.jsp?currentPubID=00069774-ZZ
3. Parliamentary debates: Official Report, 19 Mar 1987, Main and development estimates of Singapore for the financial year 1st April, 1987 to 31st March, 1988, Vol. 49, cols. 612–613, 620.
4. Perera, A. (1985, December 8). 22 schools will try out longer hours. The Straits Times, p. 16. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5. Parliamentary Debates: Official Report, 19 Mar 1987, Estimates of expenditure for the financial year 1st April, 1987 to 31st March, 1988, Vol. 49, cols. 611–614.; Wish for more schools. (1987, March 3). The Straits Times, p. 9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
6. Ministry of Education. (2009). Report of the Primary Education Review and Implementation Committee (pp. 13, 47–79). Retrieved June 2, 2014, from Ministry of Education website: http://www.moe.gov.sg/media/press/files/2009/04/peri-report.pdf
The information in this article is valid as at 2014 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.