42 Singapore: Making Waves on the Local Education Scene

42 The Network
3 min readMar 27, 2024

Located at the Southernmost tip of the Malay Peninsula, Singapore can be considered in many ways as the gateway between the East and West. Although the country may be very small in size — no bigger than 734 km² — it is still very diverse with residents from everywhere in the world. More importantly, in spite of its size, Singapore is a global trading hub and is reputed to be one of the planet’s most advanced economies. Within a high-performing yet conservative educational landscape, 42 Singapore sets out to break the norm and revolutionize tech education in the country.

“As a Singaporean, I take pride in how my country has grown and transformed itself for close to six decades. From a developing nation to one of the region’s leading economies in a relatively short time, this is often considered an economic miracle.” — Koh Chye Soon, Director of 42 Singapore.

Indeed, it is impossible to talk about Singapore without taking into account the remarkable transformation it has gone through in recent history. Over the course of the second half of the 20th century, the country has achieved spectacular economic growth, creating a vibrant business scene and taking the country all the way to fifth place in terms of GDP per capita. Singapore also boasts the ninth highest Human Development Index (HDI) on the planet.

In the midst of this bustling city-state, 42 Singapore first opened its doors in the Spring of 2023, thanks to a partnership with the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD), one of the six public universities in Singapore. SUTD was intended from the outset to be a place for innovative education, so it was not long before they first reached out to 42 to bring the concept to the country.

“SUTD and 42 share many similar pedagogical approaches, such as the emphasis on human-centered education, peer learning, and project-based learning. Both institutions also strongly believe in innovations for the betterment of the world, which is why we set out to bring 42 to SUTD — to continue challenging traditional modes of education and keep innovating!” — Koh Chye Soon.

Singapore is famed for its traditional education system, with a high level of academic testing throughout the school years. With such high standards set, the country unsurprisingly topped the latest PISA rankings by a significant margin. Needless to say, 42’s “unconventional” model (no classes, no teachers, no learning management system, and no tuition fees) drew vastly different responses upon the campus’ launch, and a number of Pisciners were in for the pleasant shock of their lives when they started. “On one hand, there were people who were incredibly excited about the idea, and on the other, there were also people who were very critical,” Koh Chye Soon recalls.

Nevertheless, a few months after the launch of the campus, it is fair to say 42 Singapore has served as a new prototype to add innovativeness to the country’s education. Local authorities are now doing a lot more to diversify the education opportunities available in the country. With the launch of this famous campus, first Piscines and subsequent kick-off successfully completed, Chye Soon now sets out to fulfil his next three objectives for the campus: creating a close-knit community of 42 students in Singapore; hitting beyond the 300 student-mark (after an initial intake of 190 in the summer of 2023); and engaging more enterprises within the local tech ecosystem.

“At the moment, we have about 45 enterprises, mostly in tech areas that we engage with who have supported us in one way or the other. Well-known names include TikTok, Food Panda, GovTech (Singapore’s Government Agency for Technology) etc… The ambition is now to deepen our engagements with them, e.g. through hackathons, tech talks and special projects, to truly embed 42 Singapore as part of the local tech ecosystem!” — Koh Chye Soon



42 The Network

We make digital an opportunity for all, everywhere. #42Network.