It was reported on ST today (24 Dec) that the Government has launched two tenders for affordable foreign school operators last year so as to help foreign expats cope with the high education costs and to ensure that Singapore remains cost-competitive for international businesses operating here.

These “budget” international schools would go a long way to help the many expats currently working in Singapore on local terms.

For example, Mr Gergely Varadi interviewed by ST, is one such example. Mr Varadi, a Hungarian working in Singapore on expat terms previously, was faced with 2 options – continue working in Singapore on local terms or leave his company. He chose to continue work here but on local terms.

He has 3 kids and did not need to worry about his kids’ schooling previously because his company would take care of it. After he chose to stay in Singapore on local terms, he transferred his kids to a “budget” international school, the Middleton International School.

Fees at Middleton International School are capped at $18,000 a year compared to $40,000 to $50,000 for a popular international school.

“I’ve always wanted to live abroad. We’ve had to manage our budget and try to strike a balance between spending and saving, but there is still a reasonable quality of life, so it’s acceptable,” he added.

Without “budget” international schools, Mr Varadi would be forced to leave Singapore as he would not be able to cope with the costs.

Then again, expats could turn to local schools for cheaper means of education as seen in the table below from Ministry of Education.

Research firm BDRC Asia’s MD Piers Lee told ST, “Historically, expats have come here on fixed-term contracts and return to their home countries after a few years. This is changing. Not only do expats stay longer but many also seek to settle here.”

However, an obvious question comes to mind – if the expats want to settle in Singapore but keep sending their kids to international schools instead of local schools, how are their kids going to integrate with our locals? For that matter, are they going to send their sons to do NS?

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