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Keep the current criteria

The Straits Times | Saturday, Jun 21, 2014

SINGAPORE - Unhappiness over Primary 1 registration is here to stay no matter how the rules are changed. Where one set of criteria benefits one group, it will work against another.

According to Mr Neo Lin Chen ("Who sets P1 priority eligibility criteria?"; last Saturday), "the only considerations for a child's entry into a primary school should be his nationality, the proximity of his home to the school and the presence of an elder sibling in the same school when the child enters P1".

If the Ministry of Education (MOE) adopts these conditions, will the unhappiness go away? Unlikely, because these criteria are already in place as part of a larger set of rules.

What if the prestigious schools are moved to the heartland? That would surely appease heartlanders.

But what about the other-landers? They might sell off their homes in Holland Village, for example, and move to the heartland. That would likely raise property prices there and drive out the heartlanders.

How about renaming and rebranding schools? Some schools bear names that appear to repel some parents and some have uniforms that pupils find hideous. If schools were renamed according to the letters of the alphabet or by numbers, parents are just as likely to clamour to place their children in AA or No. 1 school rather than FF or No. 20 school.

I suggest that we let the current rules stay. Schools that have a good reputation did not come about overnight. Many started out very small in what was then the heartland.

Their founders were probably not government scholars, but were passionate about education of the mind and the spirit. These schools were built on strong values and hence have a strong foundation and firm support over the years.

Perhaps, newer schools, despite similar or better facilities, lack this X-factor. But time may give such schools the chance to prove their worth.

Grace Chua Siew Hwee (Madam)


This article was first published on June 19, 2014.
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