Relook alumni privilege in Primary 1 registration

Now that the Ministry of Education has changed the Primary School Leaving Examination scoring system, I hope that it can carry on and restructure the entire system, starting with the Primary 1 registration.

The system of affiliation needs to be relooked.

I am a working mother of four, and I wanted to send my children to a school that is within walking distance of my home in Bishan.

Unfortunately, because the school is popular, parents living as far away as Tampines leverage their alumni privilege to enrol their children in the institution.

As a result, my children have to go to a school farther away, adding transport costs to the family expenses.

Currently, the alumni system is an effective way for children to enter a highly popular school. But, if the child's parents did not have the good fortune to study in the school, he would have nothing to count on, and his chances would be very limited.

This handicap would arise again when he tries to get into a secondary school which has an affiliated primary school.

Minimising the alumni and affiliation advantage would create a less competitive P1 registration. We must stay true to the values of inclusiveness and equality for all.

If we want Singapore to be an inclusive society, it starts with all schools keeping their gates open to embrace children from all walks of life.

Maintaining the alumni privilege means parents are willing to keep their children in the cocoon of a "successful" environment. Would this not encourage even greater elitism in our society?

To have an equitable system, we should have fewer such privileges and encourage a diversified school environment through a more democratic registration system.

One way to go would be to limit the number of vacancies at Phases 2A1, 2A2 and 2B, and keep the majority of places for Phase 2C.

Annie Chang (Mrs)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 28, 2016, with the headline 'Relook alumni privilege in Primary 1 registration'. Print Edition | Subscribe