Distance-based criterion for registration of Primary 1 places

Published Date: 06 October 2020 09:00 PM

News Parliamentary Replies

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament

Assoc Prof Jamus Jerome Lim, Sengkang GRC


To ask the Minister for Education whether the distance-based criterion for registration of Primary 1 places should be revised in light of the repeated oversubscription within some estates during Phase 2C for primary schools located within a kilometer from the applicants' residence.


1. Parents choose primary schools for their children based on a variety of considerations. These may include the convenience of having the younger sibling attend the same school as the older sibling, proximity to home, ties that the parents have with the school, including being alumni of the school, agreement with the school’s ethos and culture etc. Overall, the current Primary 1 (P1) Registration Framework tries to reflect these considerations, maintaining some balance between different groups of parents and their preferences through the different registration phases.

2. MOE regularly receives feedback on many different ways to adjust these priorities. Similar to what the Member is suggesting, some have asked for changes to the home-school distance balloting categories. Others have asked that we do away with priority arrangements in favour of pure distance-based priority to allow those who live near the school a much better chance of admission. On the other hand, there have also been calls for pure random balloting, due to concerns that a focus on distance could end up benefitting families with the financial means to move nearer to their choice schools.

3. There is no perfect system, but the current system seeks to strike a careful balance amongst different parental and community expectations, while respecting the history and legacy of many schools which started off as community initiatives.

4. As part of MOE’s move to keep every school open to children who have no prior connections to the school, we have reserved 20 places each for Phase 2B and for Phase 2C since the 2014 P1 Registration Exercise. It ensures that there is open access to all primary schools, and also provides some assurance of places for those who live near the school. From time to time, we do review whether this is sufficient, as well as whether to simplify the P1 Registration Framework. We will keep in mind the suggestion from A/P Lim as well as from many others who have provided useful feedback and suggestions for future reviews of the P1 Registration Framework, taking into account the diverse perspectives and views.

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