SINGAPORE - The niggling issue of new names for eight junior colleges merging next year has been settled.
The four merged schools will adopt a combination of the colleges' original names, the Ministry of Education (MOE) announced on Thursday (Jan 11).
For each pair, the name of the older JC will come first to reflect its longer history and heritage, the ministry said.
Anderson JC and Serangoon JC will be known as Anderson Serangoon JC, and Innova JC and Yishun JC will become Yishun Innova JC. Meridian JC and Tampines JC will be Tampines Meridian JC, and Jurong JC and Pioneer JC will be called Jurong Pioneer JC.
Four of the current JC principals will continue as principal-designates of the merged JCs, starting on Thursday. The other four will be redeployed to MOE headquarters or to other schools by next year.
MOE also said that out of some 1,000 teachers from the eight JCs, about 260 have been or will be redeployed to other primary and secondary schools, JCs, or to MOE headquarters this year and next year.
This is the first time JCs have to be merged.
The MOE, when announcing the move in April last year, had said it was due to Singapore's declining birth rate. JC intake is expected to drop by a fifth, going from 16,000 in 2010 to 12,800 next year.
With the mergers, there will be 19 JCs in total next year.
Ms Liew Wei Li, MOE's deputy director-general of education (schools), said that in arriving at the final names, the ministry considered factors such as the schools' history and heritage, and their role in the community.
In the past year, the JC principals also discussed the naming issue with alumni associations, students, past and present staff and school advisory committees.
Ms Liew said that MOE had considered other options such as keeping only one JC name or coming up with an entirely new name, but decided on retaining both colleges' names.
"As the eight merging JCs form a substantial portion of our JC landscape, we believe that retaining the names of both colleges will allow the merging JCs to unite their strengths and move forward as a combined entity to forge a new journey together," she said.
The history of each JC and its journey through the years will be documented and preserved at a heritage space in the merged JC's building.
Anderson Serangoon JC will be located at the Anderson JC campus in Ang Mo Kio, and Yishun Innova JC will be at the Yishun JC site. Tampines Meridian JC will be located at Meridian JC in Pasir Ris, and Jurong Pioneer JC will be at Pioneer JC in Choa Chu Kang.
Principals, staff and alumni said that they were satisfied with the new names of the merging JCs as they reflected "the best of both worlds".
Madam Rosemah Rashid, subject head of Malay language and Tamil language at Tampines JC, said: "It's good to have both names as both colleges have heritage. Alumni from both sides will also not be alienated and will come back to contribute as the names are still familiar to them."
Ms Pamela Yoong, principal of Tampines JC, added:" It doesn't make sense to be inward and insist on keeping one name, and it's also difficult to find a good brand new name."
Similarly, Mr Tung Siew Hoong, 54, who is from the pioneer batch of Jurong Junior College said the new name is "good news".
"JJC has more than 20,000 alumni so it would be a shame if the name was lost," said the manager in Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC.
Dr Jeremy Lim, college advisory committee chairman of Meridian JC, said keeping both names is an "understandable decision". "Moving forward, we would have to figure out the operational issues like how to make the long name work, what would students from the school be known as."
"But after all the brouhaha of the name change has settled, the work of building on the best of both schools has to continue."
This is not the first time that schools' names have been combined in mergers. For instance, Loyang View Secondary School, which merged at the start of this year (2018), is a combination of Greenview Secondary and Loyang Secondary.
A spokesman for MOE said that it adopts different approaches in naming schools "to suit the unique considerations of each pair of merging schools".
Details of merged schools
1. Anderson Serangoon JC
Principal-designate: Mr Manogaran Suppiah, current principal of Serangoon JC
Site of school: Anderson JC
History: Anderson JC founded in 1984, Serangoon JC founded in 1988
2. Yishun Innova JC
Principal-designate: Mr Michael Nelson De Silva, current principal of Innova JC
Site of school: Yishun JC
History: Yishun JC founded in 1986, Innova JC founded in 2005
3. Tampines Meridian JC
Principal-designate: Ms Yoong Nyok Ke Pamela, current principal of Tampines JC
Site of school: Meridian JC
History: Tampines JC founded in 1986, Meridian JC founded in 2003
4. Jurong Pioneer JC
Principal-designate: Dr Hang Kim Hoo, current principal of Jurong JC
Site of school: Pioneer JC
History: Jurong JC founded in 1981, Pioneer JC founded in 2000