Whole range of factors considered in school mergers

Published Date: 28 April 2017 12:00 AM

News Forum Letter Replies

We are thankful for the feedback to the Ministry of Education’s plans to merge schools.

Many have said they understood the need to merge some schools, given the fall in birth rates. At the same time, we hear the sentiments of loss among students, alumni and other stakeholders.

Our students’ learning and learning environment remain our top priority. We considered several options, including some suggested by writers, before arriving at this difficult but necessary decision to merge schools.

When enrolment is too low, our students will not be able to enjoy the same holistic range of learning experiences in terms of subject combinations, educational programmes and co-curricular activities. This is not something we can compromise.

Beyond enrolment size, the pairs of schools were chosen based on a number of factors: Proximity to housing developments, public transport accessibility and infrastructure.

The potential complexity of integration — for example, the different governance frameworks for government and government-aided schools — was also considered.

School enrolment is a different issue from student-teacher ratio. As we merge schools, we are committed to retain and redeploy all the affected teachers. In doing so, we will continue to take a needs-based approach.

In recent years, we have been able to deploy more teachers to help students with greater learning needs. We believe in doing so across all schools, and not only low-enrolment schools.

Having to merge schools does not mean no more new schools, which we need in newer estates with growing demand. We should also be open to starting new schools that can offer our students a different and valuable educational experience.

This is why in spite of falling birth rates, we started Eunoia Junior College, which had its first Integrated Programme intake of Secondary 1 students in 2013, for students who would benefit from such programmes.

We also started two specialised secondary schools — Crest (in 2013) and Spectra (2014) — to give our Normal (Technical) students more options.

We give the assurance that even after the mergers, all students who have a gross L1R5 score of 20 or below, will get a place in a JC. Admission will continue to be on merit.

The previous year’s admission scores are only a reference for potential applicants and do not constitute the scores for subsequent admission exercises.

The MOE will continue to engage alumni, staff and other stakeholders to perpetuate the rich heritage and history of our schools through the cohorts of students to come.

Ms Liew Wei Li
Deputy Director-General of Education and Director of Schools
Ministry of Education

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