MOVE TO SINGLE SESSION

At least 16 schools will miss 2016 target to switch to single morning session

An entrance to Pei Chun Public School bustling with activity around noon as morning-session pupils leave and afternoon-session pupils arrive.
An entrance to Pei Chun Public School bustling with activity around noon as morning-session pupils leave and afternoon-session pupils arrive.ST PHOTO: DANIEL NEO

Some still struggling with logistics as MOE's recommended deadline nears

THE goal of getting all primary schools to switch to a single morning session will not be achieved by next year.

Of the 32 primary schools that still operate both morning and afternoon sessions, at least half will stay that way next year, checks by The Straits Times have revealed.

In 2009, the Primary Education Review and Implementation committee recommended that all primary schools switch to a single morning session by 2016.

Currently, 155 of Singapore's 187 primary schools are operating one session.

Of those that operate two sessions, Geylang Methodist School (Primary), Yew Tee Primary and Rulang Primary in Jurong are among those unlikely to switch by next year.

The Ministry of Education (MOE) would say only that it is continuing to "facilitate the transition of government primary schools to a single-session model".

A spokesman said schools will have their enrolment reduced gradually to enable all primary schools to operate one session, adding: "Government-aided schools are given more flexibility in their transition timeline as they have to take into account stakeholders' concerns."

However, The Straits Times understands the setback is due to upgrading delays at some schools.

Primary schools switching to a single-session model have to be upgraded and expanded to allow them to cope with more classes being run at the same time.

At Geylang Methodist School (Primary), for instance, upgrading works have stopped for the moment after the school terminated its contract with the contractor, Tycoon Construction.

Principal Rina Liang said in a newsletter to parents last month that Tycoon has "ceased operations" and a new contractor is being appointed, with construction expected to resume after August.

Tanjong Katong Primary will commence upgrading works only in 2017. It will move to a holding site in New Upper Changi Road from January 2017 to December 2018, while its permanent campus in Seraya Road, near East Coast Road, undergoes a revamp.

This year, 29 primary schools went from double to single session. Schools have been making the switch in phases since the recommendation was made in 2009.

The MOE had said in 2011 that it will spend about $1 billion upgrading schools and building new ones.

Madam Wong Li Wah, 37, has a six-year-old son waiting to enter Primary 1 next year and is deciding between Red Swastika School, which will likely remain a double-session school next year, and Park View Primary, a single-session school.

But she said: "I'm more concerned about the environment and whether the school is a good fit for my son."

leepearl@sph.com.sg