SINGAPORE: The school mergers announced recently are a “painful but necessary decision”, said Minister for Education (Schools) Ng Chee Meng on Thursday (Apr 27).
In a post on Facebook, Mr Ng said the Ministry of Education (MOE) did not take the matter lightly and only went ahead with the mergers as it is “sure it is for the better for our students to come”.
The minister added that he personally agonised over the decision to merge the schools and had explored different possibilities.
“In particular, for the JC mergers, it is a most difficult choice we have to face – if we do nothing, we would see that several of our JCs will only be able to fill less than half of its JC1 desired intakes – it is possible that some would struggle to fill even just 200, given the sharp drop in JC1 cohort for the coming years,” Mr Ng said, adding that this would limit students’ educational and CCA experiences.
The minister noted that strong feelings about the mergers are understandable, and said efforts will be made to preserve the heritage and culture of the affected JCS.
“This decision affects us personally, as students, alumni, parents and teachers. While we understand, we would still feel a sense of loss when schools merge. A visually-impaired friend told me how much her JC has done for her and helped her succeed. She understands the reasons, but hoped that MOE and the JCs would preserve the heritage and culture of her JC. We will do so,” Mr Ng wrote.
The mergers will affect 14 primary schools, six secondary schools and eight junior colleges in 2019. The Education Ministry has said the school mergers are to accommodate shifting student demographics across schools in different neighbourhoods, following falling demand for Primary 1 places in mature estates.
This has led to surplus places and low enrolment in some schools. Additionally, enrolment has declined since 2014 in junior colleges due to falling birth rates.
The announcement, made on Apr 20, is the largest school merging exercise in the last decade.
The primary schools being merged are:
While the secondary schools to be merged are:
For the first time, eight junior colleges will also be merged. They are:
A new primary school, Fern Green Primary, will begin operations in Sengkang come 2018 to meet demand for school places in the estate, MOE added in the announcement last week.
There will be no staff retrenchments due to the mergers, said MOE.
“It is not an easy transition,” said Mr Ng on Thursday. “But let us – students, alumni, parents and teachers – all work at it together, to honour the identities of our schools even as we make the necessary adjustments for the future. We will go through this journey together.”