Locating MOE kindergartens with popular primary schools would create uneven demand: Experts

A class being conducted at MOE Kindergarten @ Tampines. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - If the Ministry of Education (MOE) were to situate a kindergarten with a popular primary school, demand for the kindergarten would shoot up because of the benefit of priority access, said education experts.

They noted that MOE would have to carefully consider the impact of co-locating kindergartens with sought-after schools, now it has stipulated priority admission for children in the kindergartens to those schools.

Jalan Besar GRC MP Denise Phua, who heads the Government Parliamentary Committee for Education, said: "Locating MOE kindergartens on the premises of currently popular primary schools such as Rosyth and adding the new benefit of priority access, would make the popular primary schools even more in demand.

"It would render the dream of every school a good and desirable school less achievable," she said. "If popular primary schools become even more popular because of this priority, then it would be harder to level the playing field."

National University of Singapore economics lecturer Kelvin Seah said in principle, the popularity of primary schools should not matter, given that the rationale for co-locating the kindergartens with primary schools is to allow a smoother transition for the children.

"However, with the recent policy change, it is likely that if MOE kindergartens were located within popular primary schools, then such MOE kindergartens experience an excess demand, with demand for admission far outpacing the number of spaces available."

In response to queries from The Straits Times, an MOE spokesman said that up to 2020, all its kindergartens will be inside government primary schools. The locations of new kindergartens beyond 2020 will be announced at a later date, she said.

The spokesman said that in setting up the kindergartens, MOE and ECDA work together to identify estates with higher demand for pre-school places as suitable locations. These include new estates and mature estates with upcoming housing developments.

Government-aided primary schools will not be included in the ministry's kindergarten plans up to 2020.

There were 144 government primary schools and 41 government-aided primary schools last year (2016), according to the latest education statistics. Government-aided schools, many of which are set up by local clans or religious groups, include the likes of Ai Tong School, Anglo-Chinese School (Primary) and Nanyang Primary School. Some popular government schools include Rosyth Primary, Radin Mas Primary and Rulang Primary.

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