Carnival tickets: Students feel sales 'pressure'

Mum of two ACS (Barker) students upset by tone of principal's letter to parents

A letter by the principal of Anglo-Chinese School (Barker) appears to pressure students to sell tickets for a fund-raising carnival, saying the school would know how many tickets each boy had sold.

A 44-year-old mother, whose two sons attend the secondary school in Barker Road, was so upset she sent the letter to citizen journalism website Stomp on Wednesday.

In his letter, e-mailed to all parents and uploaded on the school website, principal Peter Tan said: "As I told the boys, their effort in selling coupons reflects on their attitude. It is less an issue of 'rich' friends or relatives, but their willingness to step out of their comfort zone."

When contacted by The Straits Times, the housewife, who declined to be named to protect her sons, said: "The letter worked me up so much that I couldn't sleep. You cannot force people to donate."

In the letter, Mr Tan wrote: "A student I spoke with this morning said he did not try to contact or speak to any of his relatives, though knowing that even if they are unable to attend, the coupons will be donated to needy families... I wonder if your son/ward is like him?

"My concern is that this lack of drive becomes a habit that will not do him any good."

The carnival runs from 9.30am to 4.30pm today at the ACS Barker Road campus. It is organised by ACS (Barker) and ACS (Primary), and boys from both schools were given carnival tickets to sell.

On ACS (Primary)'s parent support group website, it said the carnival aims to raise $600,000, "which will be channelled towards enriching the education of ACS boys".

The school also started an initiative for students to donate coupons to needy families nearby.

In the letter, Mr Tan also recommended that each boy buy $50 worth of tickets for themselves to use at the carnival, which will have food, drinks and games stalls.

He called on parents to help out at the carnival. "Extra pairs of hands ready and willing to help that day would be great! For instance, we have a parent who has offered to drive in his Ferrari and Maserati to add to the carnival atmosphere," he wrote.

Each boy was given 20 tickets to sell, with each costing $10. One ticket is made up of five $2 coupons, which cannot be sold individually.

The mother said: "My boys approached relatives, but they did not want to buy. One of my sons was so stressed he wanted to buy the tickets using his own savings but I told him not to do so."

She said it was "too much" to expect each boy to buy $50 worth of tickets as it is not a small sum.

Responding on behalf of the principal, ACS (Barker) vice-principal John Wu said: "There is no compulsion for students to sell or buy up all their coupons." He told The Straits Times that funds raised would support various school programmes and improvement works.

Mr Wu added that the school has "always ensured that students understand the significance of the school's fund-raising efforts as a way to make a difference and give back to society".

Mrs Jacqueline Low, whose Primary 4 son attends ACS (Primary), an affiliated school with a different principal, said his school had made clear the boys had no obligation to sell the tickets.

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