Life is more than branding and winning

Ms Vivien Tan ("More equal access if top primary schools are relocated"), Mrs Annie Chang ("Relook alumni privilege in Primary 1 registration") and Mr Lionel Loi Zhi Rui ("No place for mother tongue exemptions in a meritocracy"; all published last Thursday) articulate a pervasive culture that is exceptionally Singapore.

We are a people who are exceptionally preoccupied with brand consciousness and a terrible fear of losing out.

Who does not want to be the best, get the most well-paid job and have the most comfortable living conditions?

That said, life is more than branding and winning. It includes being a good neighbour, respecting others, accepting people from diverse backgrounds and learning to live in peace with others.

We should avoid branding schools for whatever reason. Whoever coined the term "neighbourhood school" did a disservice to the nation.

I suggest that distanceand neighbourliness be the underlying considerations in school placements.

Putting our children in schools near home saves precious time for everyone. We are also likely to know our neighbours better when our children attend the same school.

When proximity becomes the primary criterion for placement, every school is a neighbourhood school.

Siblings should have priority in admission, cutting down on the hassle of travelling to different schools.

Alumni members should have priority after proximity. The alumni become the supporting pillar to encourage principals and teachers to uphold the school's traditions and distinctions.

Thomas Lee Hock Seng (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 03, 2016, with the headline 'Life is more than branding and winning'. Print Edition | Subscribe