P1 registration: Cheers and tears during Phase 2C

Mr Leong (left) and wife Sarah Chen, 30, with their daughter Gracie, six, who succeeded in getting a place at South View Primary School during Phase 2C, and son Lucas, four. With them are Ms Wang Wan (third from left), 39, and her husband Stephen Hoo
Mr Leong (left) and wife Sarah Chen, 30, with their daughter Gracie, six, who succeeded in getting a place at South View Primary School during Phase 2C, and son Lucas, four. With them are Ms Wang Wan (third from left), 39, and her husband Stephen Hoo, whose child also got a place at the school.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

THE most competitive portion of the Primary 1 registration exercises ended yesterday at 90 primary schools as parents balloted for a place for their children.

At South View Primary School in Choa Chu Kang, there were 85 applications and just 49 places for Phase 2C.

There, as in all the other schools, each child was given a numbered ping pong ball which was then placed in a rotating bingo cage. When her daughter's No. 70 was called, Ms Chan Chai Fung was left speechless.

She had bought a condominium within a kilometre of South View to help her daughter get a place in the school. "This school has a good academic track record; every parent wants their children to excel academically," said the 42-year-old housewife.

Neighbours David Leong, 48, and Stephen Hoo, 57, also saw their daughters, who are good friends, get places. "Now we can help each other drop the girls at school," said Mr Leong, a director of an oil and gas company.

Ms Raheema Haja Mohiddeen and her child were not as lucky. "I live within 1km of the school, but now I have to go to one further away," said the childcare teacher, 30.

At Yangzheng Primary School in Serangoon, the numbers were even more daunting. There was only one spot, but 16 hopefuls.

Principal Jacinta Lim revealed that this was the tightest squeeze in her five years in charge of Yangzheng. "Turning away children is difficult, but this allows us to promote other good schools to these parents."

Even Bukit Merah's Alexandra Primary, which opens only next year, surprised many by needing a ballot.

While the 199 Singaporean children who applied were all admitted because they had priority, 17 permanent resident kids had to contest for 11 spots.

Kindergarten teacher Cai Jian Ling, who hails from China, and her son were left disappointed. "I'm upset but I've taken a waiting list form. So I'll just wait and see for now," said the 39-year-old.

After yesterday's phase, which involved over 16,000 children, parents again called for the Ministry of Education to review the registration process.

They believe children who live close to the school should be given priority over those who qualified for earlier phases by having parents who volunteered there or were alumni members.

Phase 2C Supplementary starts next Tuesday in 91 schools which still have vacancies.

staceyc@sph.com.sg

leepearl@sph.com.sg