Whole range of factors considered in school mergers

We thank the various Forum writers for their feedback on the Ministry of Education's (MOE) plans to merge schools.

Our students' learning and their learning environment remain our top priority. We considered several options before arriving at this difficult but necessary decision to merge schools.

When enrolment is too low, our students will not be able to enjoy the same holistic range of learning experiences, in terms of subject combinations, educational programmes and co-curricular activities. This is not something that we can compromise on.

Beyond size of enrolment, the pairs of schools were chosen based on a number of factors: proximity to housing developments, accessibility by public transport, and infrastructure. The potential complexity of integration - for example, the different governance framework for government and government-aided schools - was also considered.

School enrolment is a different issue from student-teacher ratio. As we merge schools, we are committed to retain and redeploy all the affected teachers.

We will continue to take a needs-based approach in doing so. In recent years, we have been able to deploy more teachers to help students with greater learning needs. We believe in doing so across all schools, not just for low-enrolment schools.

Having to merge schools does not mean no more new schools. We need new schools in newer estates. We should also be open to starting new schools that can offer a different and valuable educational experience for our students.

This is why in spite of falling birth rates, we started Eunoia Junior College, which had its first Integrated Programme intake of Secondary 1 students in 2013, for students who would benefit from such programmes. We also started two Specialised Schools - Crest Secondary (in 2013) and Spectra Secondary (in 2014) - to give our students in the Normal (Technical) course more options.

We would like to give the assurance that even after the JC mergers, all students who have a gross aggregate score of 20 or below for L1R5 will definitely get a place in one of the JCs.

Admission will continue to be by merit, and the previous year's admission scores are only a reference for potential applicants and do not constitute the admission scores for subsequent admission exercises.

MOE will continue to engage alumni, staff and other stakeholders to perpetuate the rich heritage and history of our schools through the cohorts of students to come.

Liew Wei Li (Ms)

Deputy Director-General of Education and Director of Schools

Ministry of Education

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 28, 2017, with the headline 'Whole range of factors considered in school mergers'. Print Edition | Subscribe