Alumni donate to alma maters due to strong bond

In Mr Daryl Tan's letter (Do more to stop giving priority to alumni; July 17), giving priority for school places to alumni's children is faulted for increasing the gap between "branded" and "non-branded" schools, as a result of increased engagement with alumni and donations.

Mr Tan is probably right, but issues like these are not so straightforward. I am certain that many perceived "non-branded" schools have produced many outstanding or successful people.

Surely alumni from such schools could donate generously to their alma maters too. So why do such schools remain non-branded or even go extinct?

It is not always about money. The attachment between alumni and their schools has more to do with a relationship forged.

Feelings run deep. Many alumni donate to or support their former schools' causes and events not because of priority of school placement for their offspring, but because they still identify with the values and cherish the traditions of their former schools.

In recent years, the Ministry of Education has been transferring principals and experienced teachers from perceived "branded" schools to "non-branded" ones, and upgrading facilities.

Yet, this is not compelling enough to draw the focus away from the traditional "branded" schools.

A brand endures not because of its physical attributes, but because of the people who are proud to be associated with it.

When students or alumni do not want to be associated with their former schools, these schools will naturally be unpopular.

Thus, it is not wrong for a school to give priority to alumni.

In fact, all schools should, not just "branded" ones, as alumni have helped grow the names of many schools to what they are today.

Grace Chua Siew Hwee (Madam)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 19, 2018, with the headline 'Alumni donate to alma maters due to strong bond'. Print Edition | Subscribe