SINGAPORE - A vice-principal at Catholic Junior College (CJC) has expressed deep regret for telling the school's students that most neighbourhood secondary school students come from troubled families.
A CJC spokesman, in response to queries from The Straits Times, added that the remarks by Mrs Yue-Chang Teck Hui, who is vice-principal in charge of academic matters, "were not appropriate, and are not reflective of the actual situation or the mindsets of CJC educators".
The remarks were made on Tuesday morning (Aug 7), when Mrs Yue-Chang was addressing JC2 students in the auditorium on the issue of absenteeism. She spoke about the importance of regular school attendance, and reminded them to submit medical certificates or letters from their parents when absent. During her talk, she said that CJC is unlike a neighbourhood secondary school where, she claimed, most students have family issues.
A student present during the talk told The Straits Times that Mrs Yue-Chang had been "very mad" that there were some 150 students who had been absent without medical certificates or letters from parents since the June holidays.
According to the CJC spokesman, principal Phyllis Lim stepped in to correct this remark later during the session.
The spokesman also told The Straits Times: "Since its inception, CJC has welcomed and valued students from a wide variety of schools which adds to the richness of our college culture. CJC is committed to developing all students to realise their full potential."
Principal Mrs Lim added: "The remarks that were made were not intentional and were never meant to single out students from neighbourhood secondary schools."
Mrs Lim also said teachers had clarified the school's position to their students on Wednesday morning, while emphasising the importance of regular school attendance so as to keep pace with the curriculum.
She had also urged teachers to help students share their concerns about the matter, while using social media responsibly.
When asked about the incident, Mr Ang Wei Neng, a member of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Education, told The Straits Times: "I am sure she (Mrs Yue-Chang) meant well for the CJC students, but she probably wants to be more careful with her choice of words."
He added that discipline and school attendance are important, regardless of whether a student is from a neighbourhood school.