By Amelia Tan
TWO more junior colleges are building hostel facilities to offer accommodation options to their students.
St Andrew's Junior College (SAJC) in Potong Pasir Avenue 1 and Anderson Junior College (AJC) in Ang Mo Kio Avenue 6 are both building 12-storey hostels to be completed by December next year.
Though the JCs declined to say if the hostels would cater mainly to foreign students, it is such students who take up 70 per cent to 80 per cent of hostel rooms in other schools, such as Raffles Institution, Hwa Chong Institution and River Valley High School.
Foreign students at SAJC and AJC welcomed the move, which would save them the commute to school.
The hostels will have dining halls, computer and study rooms and recreational facilities like gyms, and music and television rooms. St Andrew's Hall will also have a 600-seat dining room to accommodate the whole hostel.
The hostels will serve boys and girls from SAJC and AJC, as well as those from nearby schools.
When they are built, there will be 14 schools with hostel facilities.
The remaining rooms are generally used by Singaporean students participating in leadership and character development programmes, or as temporary accommodation for international students on exchange programmes.
The two schools declined to say how many foreign students they had.
The Ministry of Education (MOE) said 12 per cent of the 510,000 students in primary and secondary schools, JCs and centralised institute are permanent residents and international students and the proportion has remained constant in the last few years.
An SAJC spokesman said: 'The value of a residential campus lies not only in our students drawing valuable life lessons from learning together, but also from living together.' She added that St Andrew's Hall will also be used as a venue for programmes run at the St Andrew's schools, for example as housing for students taking SAJC's residential leadership programmes.
Foreign students said they might even choose to pick a school that has a hostel.
Said SAJC student Nicholas Lau, 18, a Malaysian: 'I would prefer to study in a school with a hostel located right next door. It is more convenient, and if my activities end late, I can just walk back.
'In McNair Lodge, we stay five to a room and there is little privacy. The facilities are also quite limited, so this new hostel will be a lot better for our juniors.'
Ainesh Madan, 17, an AJC student from India, said: 'In Parry Hall, we live in separate blocks. The community spirit is not that strong. Hopefully, when we all start anew at this new hostel, we can build a stronger spirit.'
Ten Singaporean students told The Straits Times they preferred to live at home, but were excited about having access to the facilities.
'We can use the facilities such as the swimming pool. We can also hold our school camps there,' said Gladys Chew, a 17-year-old local student at SAJC.
MOE said there are no plans to build hostels in other schools.
Additional reporting by Mavis Goh and Yeo Shang Long
This article was first published in The Straits Times.