Hwa Chong woos non-Chinese

JC has 2 awards a year for a Malay, Indian student

HWA Chong Junior College, which has only one Malay and one Indian among its 1,500 students, is wooing more non-Chinese with a new scholarship scheme.

It is setting aside two scholarships each year for a Malay and an Indian student who choose to go there and meet the entry requirements.

The college's management committee awards 20 Hwa Chong Junior College scholarships a year, each worth $1,000 per year with exemption of school fees.

The scholarships are open to applicants of any race with outstanding academic results, and this year's applications close on Dec 9.

Hwa Chong's principal, Madam Leong Fan Chin, said yesterday that two of the scholarships would be set aside from next year for students nominated by the two community self-help groups, Mendaki and Sinda.

She said: "It is the mission of Hwa Chong to be cosmopolitan in its outlook.

In order to realise this, we need the environment."

She said that the college was making a humble start in its efforts to draw more non-Chinese students.

"We dare not say it, but we might get to the racial mix ratio of Singapore," she added, referring to the racial mix of 77.5 per cent Chinese, 14.2 per cent Malay, 7.1 per cent Indian and 1.2 per cent people of other races.

Madam Leong said that the college would provide second language teachers to non-Chinese students, even if lessons had to be on a "one-to-one" basis.

She said that in the early Seventies and Eighties, the college had Indian and Malay students but there was a drop in their numbers after the school moved temporarily to Bukit Batok from 1988 to 1991 while defects in the Bukit Timah campus were repaired.

This year there is only one Malay student and a Malaysian Indian student who is an Asean scholar.

The college's head of English, Mr Chan Poh Meng, who is in charge of the career guidance and scholarship programme, said that some non-Chinese students did not choose Hwa Chong because they had the impression that it was Chinese in its orientation.

But he added: "This is a vicious cycle. If the minority students do not come, they will never be able to experience what we offer and the image will remain, rightly or wrongly."

Mendaki's director of education, Dr Isa Hassan, said that as Hwa Chong is a top college, the scholarship would encourage Malay students to think of it as a choice.

Sinda's assistant director (education and research), Mr S. Thiagarajan, is a former Hwa Chong student and he recalled that there were almost a dozen Indian students in his 1980-81 batch and they even won an inter-college hockey championship.

He said: "The scholarship offer is an enlightened approach by the college. Sinda, of course, would like schools to be more multi-racial, especially top schools."