Alumni support also crucial in building a school's brand

I concur with Dr Lee Siew Peng that it takes time to build up the reputation of a school (Time needed to build up a school's brand; June 23).

However, it goes beyond falling enrolment and hence a school's reluctance to develop its brand. It is more than just the lack of a "creation myth".

Alumni support is needed as well.

The so-called elite schools tend to maintain strong connections with alumni, resulting in a strong culture where former students are willing to contribute to their alma mater and even send their children there to study.

This explains why old boys and girls of those schools maintain their school's ties and traditions even when the campus is relocated.

The Nan Hua schools are a good example, where many have a strong sense of belonging.

It was reported that well-known film director Anthony Chen - a Nan Hua alumnus - even flew back from London to Singapore for the school's centenary last year (100 years of Nan Hua through the eyes of alumni; July 10, 2017).

My secondary school, located near Khatib, has made a lesser effort to build up a strong alumni community. It is not as welcoming towards younger ones who return to their alma mater to help. Hence, it is hard for former students to identify with the school.

With weaker alumni support,the school finds it difficult to take its reputation to greater heights.

In contrast, my primary school - Qihua Primary School - places more emphasis on building connections with its alumni.

It may be a neighbourhood school, but because of the strong alumni pillar, the school identity continues to develop and has become one of the better established schools in Woodlands.

Staff and students come and go, but the alumni remain permanent.

Instead of just blaming declining enrolment and school closures in relation to building a school brand, schools should not underestimate the impact their alumni have on developing their reputation.

Sean Lim Wei Xin

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 01, 2018, with the headline 'Alumni support also crucial in building a school's brand'. Print Edition | Subscribe