Integrated Programme Junior College

Published Date: 13 July 2015 12:00 AM

News Parliamentary Replies

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament

Mr Inderjit Singh, Ang Mo Kio GRC

Question

To ask the Minister for Education whether the Ministry will reconsider locating the temporary campus of the new junior college that was originally planned to be located at the Bishan-Ang Mo Kio area to somewhere nearer Ang Mo Kio instead of the Mount Sinai area.

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament

Mr Seah Kian Peng, Marine Parade GRC

Question

To ask the Minister for Education * Whether he can provide an update on the review of the location of the temporary premises of the new junior college and as to whether it will still be in the Bishan-Ang Mo Kio area and not at Mount Sinai; and * What are the learning points from the protracted delay of the construction of this junior college.

Response

In 2013, Catholic High School, CHIJ St Nicholas’ School and Singapore Chinese Girls School came together to start a new Integrated Programme (IP). MOE approved starting this new IP in 2013 even though the new Junior College (JC) that these students would progress to in 2017, would not have its permanent campus ready by 2017. MOE decided to proceed early so as to allow more students, starting in 2013, to benefit fully from the programme. While facilities are important, the essence of the programme lies in the innovative curriculum and teaching approach. If we had waited till all the physical facilities are ready, the students who are currently benefitting from the IP would have lost an opportunity. We thus went ahead, after informing the public in 2012 that the new JC would start operations in 2017 at an interim campus - the former ITE Bishan.

The Permanent Campus

In planning for the permanent campus for the new JC, MOE had sought to secure the best possible site. This new JC would be used by many cohorts of students, for a long time to come. We needed a large enough site, ideally close to the partner secondary schools, and accessible by public transport. As the three partner secondary schools are situated in the central part of Singapore which has many competing land uses, such sites are limited.

After a careful and extensive search, we secured the site at Sin Ming Avenue as it best met the criteria. Even though the lease for its current tenant, the Asian Golf Academy, ends only in December 2015, we decided on this site as it best meets the long term needs of the new JC. With the existing tenancy, initial estimates was that the construction of the permanent site could only be completed by mid-2018. Late last year, MOE was informed that there were substantial changes to the alignment of the Cross Island Line. It would now run underneath a much larger part of the permanent site. The high-rise nature of the JC also required more pre-construction works, such as extensive soil investigation. These works can only be carried out when the current lessee vacates in December 2015. With these developments, the design of the JC campus had to be modified and construction would take longer. The permanent campus is now expected to be completed around end-2019.  

An Interim Campus with the Right Facilities

We had planned for the interim campus of the new JC to be at the former ITE Bishan. This site is now holding St. Joseph’s Institution (SJI) while its Malcolm Road campus is being renovated. However, as SJI encountered difficulties and delays in its upgrading works, it will need to extend its stay till mid-2017. We therefore needed another interim site for the new JC to start operating from in 2017.

We explored various possibilities, including the former ITE Ang Mo Kio. Considering all factors, the former RJC campus at Mount Sinai is the best available interim site. It is sufficiently large and has the right complement of facilities such as lecture theatres, sporting facilities and common spaces. This site best meets the needs of the new JC’s curriculum and programmes.

At a dialogue session with parents on 25 May this year, some parents were concerned about the distance, and requested for MOE to reconsider the feasibility of the former ITE Ang Mo Kio. We did so but after weighing all the factors carefully, we have reaffirmed the Mount Sinai site as the most suitable interim campus, and have conveyed this to parents.

The Mount Sinai site is accessible to JC-age students, even if it is further from home for some students currently in the IP. It is served by several bus services and is within walking distance to Buona Vista MRT station. Raffles JC operated from Mount Sinai for twenty years (1984 to 2004) and had students from all over Singapore. Dunman High School used it as their holding site (2007 to 2008) when their campus at Tanjung Rhu underwent upgrading. In the case of Dunman High School, the students ranged from Secondary 1 to JC2. Hence, students of JC-age would not have difficulty accessing the JC, even it was further away than what was initially planned. NUS High School for Mathematics and Science also started in 2005 at Mount Sinai before moving to its permanent campus.

We will rejuvenate the Mount Sinai campus for the new JC to operate in from 2017. Further details of the refurbishment plans will be provided later this year.

Strong Programmes are Key to a Good Educational Experience

MOE appreciates the concern of parents in the changes of plans and timing for the interim and permanent campus of the new JC. It is not ideal, and we regret that the developments did not allow us to proceed earlier. But, we are glad that the current cohorts of students who are affected have been able to benefit from the IP.

MOE is pleased that the three partner secondary schools have developed a strong IP over the past 3 years. For example, students are exposed to Eastern and Western philosophies in their World Readiness Programme. They have developed cross-cultural sensitivity and a strong sense of service to the community. Three cohorts, or around 1,200 students, have already benefited from it. These students can look forward to a rich learning experiences at Mount Sinai, as the new JC will extend these programmes into the JC years. In addition, the new JC will offer the Bicultural Studies Programme in Chinese, the Humanities Programme, the Music Elective Programme, and a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) programme. These programmes aim to deepen students’ understanding of complex issues, cultivate in them good values, develop their resilience and tenacity as they grapple with challenges and difficult issues.

Looking Forward Together

Students, teachers, schools and alumni of the three partner schools play an important role in building the ethos and culture of this new JC. In the coming months, we will work with key stakeholders on the name of the new JC and the composition of its School Advisory Committee. We will also engage relevant stakeholders on elements of the new JC’s identity, such as the school uniform and emblems. We hope that the new JC develops a distinctive character.

Students of the new JC will have the unique experience of being pioneers in co-creating the school’s identity, and in growing and living out their school’s values. We hope that these values can guide our students who come through this IP and the new JC to become their best, to be rugged and resilient, have a strong sense of service to the community and a regard for others.

MOE looks forward to working with school leaders, school advisory and management committees, parents and the community to pioneer this new IP and new JC. Ultimately, it is the educational programmes that define the quality of the students’ educational experience. We look forward to the support of parents.

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