Parents queue up for volunteer slots at Mee Toh school

Would-be parent volunteers lining up outside Mee Toh School in Punggol yesterday morning.
Would-be parent volunteers lining up outside Mee Toh School in Punggol yesterday morning.PHOTO: STOMP

More than 80 parents line up for 50 volunteer slots at popular school

Queues for Hello Kitty dolls, pre-school places and, now, for the chance to be a parent volunteer at a popular school.

More than 80 parents lined up outside Mee Toh School in Punggol yesterday morning to get a better chance at landing a coveted spot for their child.

Being a parent volunteer, which requires at least 40 hours spent doing things such as preparing meals or being traffic wardens, gives them priority in the Primary 1 registration exercise.

The Straits Times understands that Mee Toh had about 50 volunteer places up for grabs for parents whose children are starting Primary 1 in 2017. Registration was on a first-come first-served basis, hence the queue outside its main entrance.

The school did not respond to queries on its rule and how long it has been in place.

Schools choose parent volunteers at their discretion. For instance, some parents may be interviewed, or face a ballot if there are too many applicants.

Mr Ken Wong said his wife, a personal assistant, got in line at 7.15am. "We had expected the long queue, as we had read in forums online that Mee Toh is one of the good schools in the area," said Mr Wong, 35, owner of an industrial-cleaning business. Their son is four years old.

Mr Wong sent pictures of the queue to citizen journalism website Stomp yesterday.

"We're not going for the school because of its reputation, but because it will be very near our home," he said, adding that the family will be moving from Choa Chu Kang to their new Build-to-Order flat in Punggol later this year.

There are only two schools - the other being Horizon Primary - within 1km of their Punggol flat, he added.

If they get in as parent volunteers at Mee Toh, they will start serving from May next year. This will allow them to qualify for Phase 2B, which is for children with parent volunteers or parents who are grassroots leaders, or have church or clan links.

Parent volunteer slots are now rarer; many popular schools like Rosyth and those under the Singapore Hokkien Huay Kuan, such as Nan Chiau and Ai Tong, have done away with parent volunteers due to oversubscription.

Mee Toh School has produced pupils with good Primary School Leaving Examination results and is popular among parents who want their children to attend a Buddhist school. It is also located in a new housing estate with a large share of young families.

This year, with 165 of 300 vacancies snapped up, it was one of eight schools that had more than half of their capacity filled when Phase 1 of Primary 1 registration - for children with siblings in the school - ended last Friday.

"We just hope to stand a better chance. Even though volunteering does not guarantee us a place, it's better than doing nothing," said Mr Wong.