Future school mergers?
In Parliament on Monday (3 July), Senior Minister of State for Education, Janil Puthucheary said that the Ministry of Education (MOE) cannot rule out the need for future school mergers in the next decade.
The announcement to merge schools was made back in April this year, with 8 JCs, 6 secondary and 14 primary schools selected for the proposed plan.
So what does this entail for future students and teachers?
Here are some interesting information regarding the situation.
Which schools have been affected?
8 JCs, 6 secondary and 14 primary schools will collapse and merge, bringing the number to 4 JCs, 3 secondary and 7 primary schools.
Reasons for merger
MOE cited falling birth rates and school intakes as primary reasons.
JC intake is projected to fall from 16,000 students in 2010 to 12,800 students in 2019.
As such, schools will not be able to provide sufficient educational programmes and co-curricular activities.
The new sites were specifically chosen based on population demographics in housing estates, accessibility to transport and quality of institutional infrastructure to maintain coverage for all students throughout the country.
Merger was last option
This was the final option as MOE had considered retaining schools and to bring together students from different schools at a cluster or regional level.
They decided against this due to timetabling and travelling constraints.
Not a new concept
Merging of schools has been done before in the past.
How will the students and teaching staff be affected?
MOE has repeated that affected teachers would not be retrenched.
Instead, they would be accorded bridging courses and lighter workload.
The four JCs will not take in a fresh cohort of JC1 students next year so that students will not have to move in 2019, while the current cohorts will complete their A-levels at the same school.
Cut-off points may vary slightly next year following the mergers.
MOE plans to increase the JC1 student intake for the remaining junior colleges so that there are sufficient places.
Questions to be asked
Teachers would find it hard to adjust to new systems, more so if he/she has been established in the incumbent culture and organisation for several years.
How would the merger accommodate teachers of similar positions and appointments? This might mean deployment to other sectors and education level for many educators.
What would happen to the non-teaching staff? Canteen and bookshop vendors, security guards and cleaning staff would be deemed surplus at the new schools.