Junior college (Singapore)

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Junior colleges are pre-university institutions in Singapore that offers two-year pre-university courses that leads to either the Singapore-Cambridge GCE Advanced Level or the International Baccalaureate Diploma.[1]


The junior college system was first introduced at the end of the 1960s as a standardisation of all pre-university courses offered by various high schools in Singapore. It aims to offer a challenging environment for students to develop their talents, both academically and non-academically.[1]

The educational blueprint of a junior college system was first made public by pioneering Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew in May 1965, terming it as a "super secondary boarding school". The first junior college, subsequently named National Junior College, was the first specialised co-educational government school established in independent Singapore for pre-university students.[2][3][4]

In December 1965 by then Minister for Education Ong Pang Boon that the centralised "junior college" system would replace the pre-university education that are formerly conducted at various middle schools across the state, in order to optimise the use of teachers and laboratory facilities and open up more educational opportunities for pre-university students.[5] National Junior College was officially declared open by pioneering Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew on 14 May 1970.[6]

In 1970, the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCCI) collaborated with the Singapore government to fund the establishment of two junior colleges. Mr Tan Keong Choon, a prominent businessman and the managing director of the board of The Chinese High School was appointed to oversee the project, estimated to cost S$2.2 million of which half of the total funds is to be funded by SCCCI. In 1974, Hwa Chong Junior College was officially inaugurated as the first government-aided junior college in Singapore.[7]

With the graduation of the last batch of pre-university classes from various high schools, pre-university courses were officially creased at all high schools by 1975.[8]

The Provisional Admission Exercise was a transitional period of three months in junior colleges that allowed students to have an experience of JC life.

In the past, there used to be two intakes, namely the Provisional Admission Exercise (PAE) and the Joint Admissions Exercise (JAE). However, from the 2009 academic year onwards, a single intake system is being implemented with the O-level examinations being brought forward to minimise movement and excessive administration work involved in the two-intake system.[citation needed]

Admissions and matriculation[edit]

Junior colleges accept students based on their "L1R5" aggregate grading attained in the Singapore-Cambridge GCE Ordinary Level examination. The term "L1R5" refers to the aggregate scores attained from the individual subject grades of a first language and five relevant content subjects in the examination. A "L1R5" score of 20 points or less must be attained for a student to gain admission to a junior college. There are two ways to be admitted into a pre-university centre: either through the traditional Joint Admissions Exercise (JAE) or through the less common Direct School Admission (DSA).

Joint Admission Exercise (JAE)[edit]

The Joint Admission Exercise (JAE) is an admission exercise for Singapore-Cambridge GCE Ordinary Level result holders to gain admission to post-secondary institutes, namely junior colleges, centralised institutes, polytechnics and institutes of technical education.

Direct School Admission (DSA)[edit]

Direct School Admission (DSA) exercise is an annual standardised discretionary admission programmes, which students apply directly to the various colleges for placement on the basis of talent which can range from the academic to the cultural and performing arts to sports.[citation needed] Upon acceptance, students will be automatically admitted to the college irrespective of the year's JAE cut-off score, although students will still have to meet the minimum criterion of scoring an L1R5 of below 20 points for entrance into a junior college.[citation needed]

Academic programmes[edit]

A Level curriculum[edit]

From January 2006, the two-year and three-year -university curriculum framework in pre-university centres was replaced with a new and revised curriculum with the first batch of students sitting for the GCE A-level examinations in 2007. In this newly enforced curriculum, the system of categorising subjects according to "Alternative Ordinary (AO)", "Advanced (A)" and "Special (S)" papers or levels has been replaced with the Higher 1 (H1), Higher 2 (H2) and Higher 3 (H3) categories.

H1 subjects are worth 1 Academic Unit (AU), H2 subjects 2 AUs, H3 subjects 1 AO and students are expected to take a minimum of 10 AUs (viz. 3H2+1H1) and a maximum of 12 AUs (viz. 4H2+1H3) inclusive of Mother Tongue Language (MTL), Project Work and General Paper or Knowledge & Inquiry. Students who have taken the Higher Mother Tongue language paper at the O-level and have obtained a minimum grade of 'D7' are exempted from taking formal MTL lessons and examinations, albeit still having to attend MTL-related enrichment and not being allowed to replace the MTL unit with another subject as MTL is still regarded as an integral component of the curriculum.

In tandem with the MOE's aim of achieving more depth rather than mere breadth, the H1 and H2 categories complement each other; in general, a subject taken at H1 is half the breadth of that taken at H2, but is of the same depth and difficulty. For example, students studying Mathematics at H1 will study fewer Pure Mathematics topics (which are largely Physics-related) than those studying Mathematics at H2, but will still face the same depth and difficulty in similar topics (such as Statistics). As such, an H1 paper can theoretically be said to be half of the content of an H2 paper albeit being at equal depth and difficulty (as opposed to how "AO" level subjects were merely easier papers than the A-level subjects previously). Subsequently, for certain subjects such as History, students taking the subject at H1 level will only sit for Paper 1 (International History from 1945–2000), while students taking the subject at H2 level will sit for the same Paper 1 (International History from 1945–2000) in addition to having to sit for Paper 2 (Southeast Asian History from 1900–1997) as well. Students taking Science subjects such as Physics, Chemistry or Biology at H1 will only sit for the Multiple-Choice Questions (MCQ) and one written paper, and are not required to take the School-based Science Practical Assessment (SPA) or Practical examination as those taking the subjects at H2. Consequently, this new grouping system bears some resemblance to the International Baccalaureate Diploma A1/A2/SL/HL grouping system.

The new curriculum framework gives students more choice of subjects to choose from and enables more permutations of subject combinations. However, unlike in the old curriculum which was criticised for being too specialised and unholistic, students are now required to take up at least one contrasting subject - i.e. Science students have to take up at least one Arts/Humanities subject, while Arts/Humanities students must take up at least one Science-based subject. For example, subjects previously not available to Arts/Humanities students such as Physics, Chemistry and Biology are now made possible at both H1 and H2 levels, while Science students now have more choice of doing an Arts/Humanities subject (such as Literature) at either H1 or H2 level. Alternatively, students can choose to take up a new subject, Knowledge & Inquiry, in lieu of the General Paper (GP) as a contrasting subject, as Knowledge & Inquiry (KI) is designed to expose students to Epistemology as well as to the construction and nature of knowledge, thus calling for the need to learn across disciplines such as Mathematics, the Sciences and the Humanities. KI is said to be similar to the IB Diploma's Theory of Knowledge paper, albeit with a 2500-3000-word Independent Study research paper, in addition to a sit-in examination paper. Due to its intensive nature, KI is classified as an H2 subject instead of an H1 subject like the General Paper (GP).

The "highest" level subjects, the H3 subjects, are meant to be more pragmatic and promote critical thinking unlike the previous "S" Papers. Under the revised curriculum, H3 subjects are examined either in the form of Research Papers (be it by Cambridge, or by local Universities), Research work (such as the HSSRP and A*Star Research Programmes) or (advanced) University Modules offered by the various local Universities which are approved by the MOE. Consequently, students are able to gain extra credits and skip several modules in the University with the H3 paper done with their other GCE A-level subjects. However, in order to do an H3 subject, students must be offering the corresponding subject at H2 level. H3 subjects are not offered in Millennia Institute.

Academic Subjects[edit]

In general, the subjects offered under the current Singapore-Cambridge GCE A-level Examinations are (list is not exhaustive):

Science & Mathematics Group:
Offered at both H1 & H2 level: Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry, Physics
Offered only at H2 Level: Computing, Further Mathematics

Languages Group:
Offered only at H1 Level: Chinese Language, Malay Language, Tamil Language
Offered at both H1 & H2 Level: French, German, Japanese
Note: Language Subjects taken at H1 do not qualify as contrasting subject(s) for Science students. Only Language Elective Programme (LEP) students are offered to study French, German or Japanese at H2 level.

Humanities and the Arts Group:
Offered at H1 level only: General Studies in Chinese (GSC)
Offered at both H1 & H2 level: Economics, Geography, History, Literature in English, History in Chinese, China Studies in English, China Studies in Chinese
Offered only at H2 Level: English Language & Linguistics (ELL), Chinese Language & Literature, Malay Language & Literature, Tamil Language & Literature, Translation (Chinese), Theatre Studies & Drama, Art, Music (Higher Art and Higher Music is offered to Art Elective (AEP) and Music Elective Programme (MEP) students respectively)

Commerce Group (for CI only)
Offered at H2 level: Principles of Accounting, Management of Business
Offered at H1 and H2 level: Economics

H3 Subjects:
1. Research Programmes: Humanities and Social Sciences Research Programme (HSSRP) by National University of Singapore (NUS), NUS Science Research Programme (NUS H3 SRP), H3-STaR Science Research Programme (only offered to students of NJC), H3 NAV Science Research Programme (only offered to students of VJC).
2.University Modules: Modules such as "Geopolitics: Geographies of War and Peace" for Geography and History students and "Managerial Economics" for Economics students are offered and examined by the National University of Singapore. NTU will also be offering several modules in 2007.

Knowledge Skills:
Offered only at H1 level: Project Work, General Paper (for those who do not take KI)
Offered only at H2 Level: Knowledge & Inquiry

Previously, students take two subjects at "Alternative Ordinary" level ("AO" level), namely their General Paper (GP) and Mother Tongue, and three or four subjects at "A" level. "A" level subjects include Economics, Mathematics, Further Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, English Literature, History, Geography, Art, Art with Higher Art (A-level) taken by students in the Art Elective Programme, Theatre Studies and Drama, Computing, Higher Chinese, Chinese (A-level) Language Elective Programme, Music (A-level), Music with Higher Music (A-Level) taken by students in the Music Elective Programme, General Studies in Chinese, French, German, Japanese (A-level), Malay (A-level), Tamil (A-level). Project Work was also made compulsory from 2003.

To gain admittance to local universities, students must pass the General Paper (GP) or Knowledge & Inquiry (KI) and obtain a minimum grade of S for the "AO" or "H1" level Mother Tongue Language paper. The grade obtained for the Higher Mother Tongue paper taken at "O" level may be used in lieu of an "AO" or "H1" level Mother Tongue Language grade. From 2008 onwards, the scores of a student's three H2 and one H1 subject will be computed inclusive of Project Work (PW) and either GP or KI for admittance into local universities (namely NUS, NTU, SMU and UniSIM).

Elective programmes[edit]

Humanities Programme[edit]

The Humanities Programme is a pre-university programme under the Ministry of Education offered at junior colleges and integrated programme schools. Formerly the Promsho programme (pre-university cum overseas undergraduate scholarship for the study of humanities at Oxbridge), the programme was formally introduced in Hwa Chong Junior College and Raffles Junior College in 1981.[9] The programme is currently offered in the following junior colleges: Anglo-Chinese Junior College; Anglo-Chinese School (Independent); Eunoia Junior College; Hwa Chong Junior College; National Junior College; Raffles Junior College; Temasek Junior College; and Victoria Junior College.[10]

Applicants of the Humanities Programme must attain at least a B3 in English for the Singapore-Cambridge GCE Ordinary Level examination or equivalent.[10] Every student under the Humanities Programme must offer H2 English Literature as a core subject, and offer two other Humanities subjects, as well as one contrasting subject in the Sciences.[11] Singaporean students under the programme are eligible for the Humanities Scholarship offered by the Ministry of Education.[10]

Language Elective Programmes[edit]

Language Elective Programmes were introduced in 1990 for Chinese Language in Hwa Chong Junior College and Temasek Junior College. The programme aims to deepen the field of study of the use of Chinese Language and understanding of contemporary and traditional Chinese literary texts and works. Currently, four junior colleges offers the Chinese Language Elective Programme, namely (in the order of accreditation of programme: Hwa Chong Junior College, Temasek Junior College, Nanyang Junior College and Jurong Pioneer Junior College.[12] The Malay Language Elective Programme is offered at Yishun Innova Junior College, Tampines Meridian Junior College and Jurong Pioneer Junior College. In 2019, the Ministry of Education has announced that come 2020, the new Tamil Language Elective Programme (TLEP) will be rolled out at two Junior Colleges, namely Anderson Serangoon Junior College and National Junior College. Alternative variations of the programmes in French, German and Japanese are also offered in selected junior colleges.[12]

Art & Music Elective Programmes[edit]

The Art Elective Programme (AEP) and Music Elective Programme (MEP) in junior colleges, which were introduced in 1984 and 1982 respectively, are offered as two-year programmes to junior college students with talents in art and music. These programmes aim to stretch students' talents in art and music to develop Practitioners, Scholars and Advocates who will also be Leaders in the arts in Singapore.[12]

Funding and scholarships[edit]

Students in most junior colleges and centralised institutes pay subsidised school fees of 6 SGD and up to 22 SGD per month for other miscellaneous equipment and special programme fees, depending on the status and programmes offered by the college. However, certain independent junior colleges, such as Hwa Chong Institution and Raffles Institution (Junior College), will require new students to pay fees of SGD 300 per month. Scholarships and bursaries are provided for students whose score falls within the 95th percentile from the O-levels, and for students requiring financial assistance. Under these schemes, they are only required to pay an amount equivalent to the school fees of a non-independent junior college. Bursary holders are required to pay a fraction of the full fees, based on their family income. A student whose household salary is SGD 2000 (75% of an average Singapore household income) is required to pay 75% of the full school fees, while another whose household income is less than SGD 1000 per month has only to pay 25%. There are also MOE pre-university scholarships awarded to academically able students who choose to pursue and specialise their education at a junior college, providing yearly scholarship allowance and remission of school fees. These scholarships include the Pre-University Scholarship, which provides a scholarship allowance of SGD 750 per annum, as well as specialised scholarships such as the Humanities Scholarship, Art Elective Programme Scholarship, Language Elective Programme (French, German & Japanese) Scholarship and Music Elective Programme Scholarship which provide scholarship allowances of SGD1000 per annum in addition to a remission of school fees as well as additional grants for overseas trips or programmes (ranging from SGD 1,000 to SGD 2,000).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Our History". nanyangjc.moe.edu.sg. Retrieved 2017-10-30.
  2. ^ "Lee plans a super Eton-style boarding school". Straits Times. 3 May 1965. Retrieved 2017-05-10.
  3. ^ "Establishment of Singapore's First Junior College". National Library Board, Singapore. HistorySG. 2014. Archived from the original on 2014-11-25. Retrieved 2014-11-25.
  4. ^ Wong, Moh Keed (2009). And they called us car park attendants : Singapore's first JC. Singapore: National Junior College. p. 8. ISBN 9789810827175.
  5. ^ W., Campbell (16 January 1968). "Singapore builds a new step in higher education". Straits Times. Retrieved 2017-05-10.
  6. ^ "Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew talking with students at …". www.nas.gov.sg. Retrieved 2017-05-10.
  7. ^ 红玉, 叶 (2005-11-27). "献身教育36年 冯焕好院长最难忘3件事". newslink.asiaone.com. Retrieved 2017-06-28.[permanent dead link]
  8. ^ "星期二特写 - 《钟声响起时》第6 集 - 双轨火车". video.toggle.sg. 21 August 2017. Retrieved 2017-08-25.
  9. ^ hermes (2017-01-08). "The teacher who touched many lives". The Straits Times. Retrieved 2017-10-30.
  10. ^ a b c "Humanities Scholarship". www.moe.gov.sg. Retrieved 2017-10-30.
  11. ^ "Please Mind the Platform Gap: The Humanities Programme". Raffles Press. 2014-06-03. Retrieved 2017-10-30.
  12. ^ a b c "Elective Programmes". www.moe.gov.sg. Retrieved 2017-10-30.

External links[edit]