New JC won't be ready by mid-2018 target

End-2019 completion for JC which will mainly take IP students from 3 schools

MOST students in the Integrated Programme (IP) at Catholic High, St Nicholas Girls' and Singapore Chinese Girls' schools will not get to spend any time on the campus of their new junior college (JC) at all.

The JC, located at the junction of Sin Ming Avenue and Marymount Road, will be completed at the end of 2019, and not mid-2018 as scheduled.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Education (MOE) said the delay was because of "changes in design parameters due to new planning requirements by the relevant agencies". No other details were given.

The as-yet-unnamed JC will be Singapore's 20th and will mainly take IP students from the three schools. The first students, in 2017, were meant to study at a holding site in Bishan Street 14, on the former campus of the Institute of Technical Education, until the new campus was ready.

But the delay means IP students now in their second or third year of their four-year programme will not get to experience the new campus. First-year students will spend one year at the holding site, and one at its permanent home.

The location of the temporary campus has also changed - from Bishan to Mount Sinai Road, at the former premises of Raffles JC (RJC).

The Bishan Street 14 site is being used by St Joseph's Institution (SJI) while its Malcolm Road campus undergoes upgrading. SJI was due to return to Malcolm Road by the middle of next year, but now has to extend its stay in Bishan till mid-2017.

SJI spokesman Eliza Lim said this was because the school needed to work out solutions to overcome an existing high slope, and ensure that old and new buildings are well integrated.

MOE said the former RJC was found to be the most suitable choice. "As a former JC, it already has lecture theatres and science laboratories, and is large enough to accommodate a full cohort of JC students," said a spokesman. More tutorial rooms will be built and the science labs will be retrofitted.

Raffles Girls' Primary is using the space until December, while its Hillcrest Road campus undergoes upgrading.

The three schools told parents and students of the changes on Monday. Plans are under way for parents to meet the new JC's principal, Mrs Wong Mei Heng, this month to discuss concerns.

Catholic High student Wang Guan Lun, 15, who lives in Bishan, said the changes mean an earlier start for him when his JC studies begin in two years. "The new holding site is quite far from my house so I'll have to get up earlier to take the bus and train there."

His schoolmate Louis Lu, 14, who was looking forward to spending one year at the new campus, said: "I'm a bit disappointed at not being able to study at the JC's new campus, but it's not something we can change."

leepearl@sph.com.sg