Look at birth trends when planning for education

I read with interest about the Education Ministry's decision to merge schools due to the falling birth rate (8 junior colleges among 28 schools to be merged; April 21).

Two institutions I attended - Tampines Primary School and Willow Avenue Secondary School - were both closed due to redevelopment in the 80s.

I understand the need for development. However, I am sad that I do not have the chance to take my children to visit my alma mater or to go back there with my schoolmates.

Now, my daughter's school - Serangoon Junior College - will also be no more.

I had encouraged her to join the alumni association, but the merger with Anderson JC has discouraged her from doing so.

I understand that the mergers are due to the falling birth rate.

The Education Ministry (MOE) should have anticipated this effect years ago.

Why did it open another new JC when, only a few years later, it needs to merge eight JCs?

The budget to build a new JC could have been channelled to upgrading the current primary and secondary schools, JCs and even universities.

I hope the MOE will consider having more JCs located in the heartland areas, for the convenience of students.

For instance, Hwa Chong Institution and National Junior College could merge and use the Tampines JC building.

This episode makes me wonder what will happen to the polytechnics and universities five or 10 years down the road. Will they suffer the same fate?

We need to look at the birth rate and Singapore's development as a whole to plan for the future education system.

Ong Kim Lee

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 24, 2017, with the headline 'Look at birth trends when planning for education'. Print Edition | Subscribe