42 Singapore Launches With 190 Students – 25% More Than Expected

05 Sep 2023

A total of 190 individuals, ranging from 18 to 60 years old, have outperformed 2,800 others to book their place in history by becoming ’s very first batch of students.
The pioneering 190 students went through 26 intensive days of immersion called "Piscine" (French for swimming pool) to assess their suitability for the programme. In all, they sat through four coding exams which evaluated them based on their collaborative spirit and problem-solving skills. Of the 3,000 who applied for 42 Singapore's first intake, offers were made to 200, close to 96% of which accepted. This is 25% more than the 150 that were initially expected for the first intake.
42 Singapore, which is a tuition-free coding school, is the culmination of four years of preparation by the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD), in collaboration with Ecole 42 Paris. The wheels were set in motion in 2019, when SUTD President, Professor Chong Tow Chong, paid a visit to Ecole 42 in Paris.

SUTD President, Professor Chong Tow Chong, speaking at the launch which was held at the 42 Singapore premises.

Speaking at the launch today, he recalled: "I saw many similarities in 42's pedagogy with SUTD's – we both place heavy emphasis on human-centric education, peer-to-peer and self-directed learning. I was very impressed by how successful the programme was in producing agile and highly-skilled coders and programmers despite the fact that it doesn’t rely on textbooks, teachers nor classes. The students that went through the course were highly-motivated and were all well-equipped with specialised skills to meet industry needs. And best of all, they did it all for free! I knew then that SUTD had to bring this programme to Singapore so that Singaporeans and residents could benefit from it."

Open to anyone aged 181 and above regardless of their academic qualifications, the 42 Singapore premises was officially launched by Minister for Education, Mr Chan Chun Sing, and Ambassador of France to Singapore, Ms Minh-di Tang today. The programme boasts a teacher-less, book-less and class-less learning approach. It has 21 "levels" which are split into two main categories – core and specialisation. Students will have to pass nine levels under the "core programme" before they can proceed to levels 10-21 under the "specialisation programme". After the initial core programme, students will, as part of the specialisation programme, participate in one or two six-month industry placement exercises.
Students in the pioneering batch come from all walks of life. This is a strong representation of the inclusive nature of the 42 Singapore programme. About a third of the 190 are in full-time employment and will be juggling studies and work at the same time. Another one-third are currently unemployed and will be using this opportunity to upskill themselves, whilst the rest are students, working part-time or retirees. Approximately half of the students have no prior coding experience and close to half of them have no degree.
One such student is Ms Louisa Nonis, 28, who has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. Having gone through the Piscine, she is now looking forward to starting the programme proper. She said: "The Piscine taught me valuable and concrete problem-solving skills, allowing me to seek out collaborative teamwork with the diverse friendships bonded over learning and discussions within the 26 days. It was an exceptional experience despite the steep learning curve for someone who doesn’t have a coding background. But I’m glad I managed to pull through the tests and am looking forward to learning new skills and making new friends."
Another student, who only wanted to be identified as Raymond, and who is currently a retiree, agreed that the peer-to-peer learning structure was an eye-opening experience. "The most motivating part is the conducive environment – everyone is learning. If I were to do it on my own, I won't have the perseverance to do it. It is important to push the learning. In the process, you have the information sharing and others also taught me how their approach differs from mine. This gives me a better understanding on how to solve the problems faced. It is a good mechanism in the process that forces us to engage with others and to learn from each other. We are not limited to our own thinking, and we open our minds in how to solve the problems differently. Of course, I also wish to upgrade myself, as at my age I don't have the opportunity to do so to such an extent and 42 has provided me with this once in a lifetime opportunity to future-proof my career," said the 60-year-old.
The second intake for 42 Singapore is scheduled for May 2024. The next Piscine is slated to start from the third week of Feb 2024.
Hosted at the SUTD campus, the 42 Singapore premises span a space of 880 sqm that houses 150 computer terminals that have been specially configured and linked to 42 Paris’ server to administer the 42 programme.

1 Singapore males must have completed National Service