Merged JCs to continue offering niche programmes and CCAs

Innova JC (above) will be merging with Yishun JC because of falling cohort sizes. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG
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. PHOTOS: ST FILE, LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - Competitors in the Schools National A Division basketball girls' and badminton girls' tournaments could find themselves facing a combined team of Yishun Junior College and Innova Junior College students this year, even before the two schools merge next year.

This is an option for the merging JCs if they find they do not have enough students to field in sports competitions, said Innova JC principal Michael de Silva.

Yishun JC and Innova JC are one of four pairs of JCs to merge in 2019 because of falling cohort sizes, a result of Singapore's declining birth rate.

The four JCs which will be moving out of their premises will not be taking in new first-year students this year, resulting in a smaller student body.

Mr de Silva, 57, who will become principal of Yishun Innova Junior College next year, said the schools were still grappling with having fewer students to field for sports events. An option is to allow students to take more than one co-curricular activity, or CCA, he said.

The Ministry of Education (MOE) announced details of the new merged schools on Thursday (Jan 11), including their new names, locations and principals.

The four merged JCs will retain the niche CCAs and programmes of their component schools.

For example, Pioneer JC's partnership with Zhejiang University and the NUS Research Institute in Suzhou will be extended to the merged Jurong Pioneer JC.

Serangoon JC's niche CCAs, such as taekwondo and girls' touch football, will feature at the merged Anderson Serangoon JC.

Merged JCs will also have heritage walls displaying the history of the two schools.

Mr de Silva said that while there was value in learning from the history and heritage of the schools, this had to be balanced with a forward-looking mindset.

Staff are already getting to know their counterparts from the other schools, so that they can hit the ground running when school starts in 2019.

Principals told The Straits Times that the human resource aspect was one of the most significant to address.

"We had to jointly agree who would be helming the different departments, and on the teacher composition. After having settled on staff strength, did the induction come," said Serangoon JC principal Manogaran Suppiah, 58, who will lead Anderson Serangoon JC.

Of the 78 Serangoon JC staff who will be moving over to the new school, 34 have already gone over to Anderson JC.

The new JCs will have equal numbers of staff from each school in the merger. The other staff not in the new schools will be redeployed to primary schools, secondary schools, MOE headquarters and other JCs.

Mr de Silva said all teachers could indicate their preferred posting. They were told their appointments and postings starting from the end of last year.

"Generally at the end of the day, the postings were within their preferences. If you wanted to go to a primary school, you would have got a primary school place," he said.

To give the second-years the experience of organising orientation activities for a junior batch, some schools also came together to carry out orientation activities, since only one of each pair would have an incoming cohort.

Student leaders from Yishun JC and Innova JC started planning together for the orientation for incoming juniors, who will start school in February, from November last year.

The paired schools also worked together to prepare for this year's open houses, for example, with 140 students from Anderson JC and Serangoon JC involved in showcasing Anderson JC's programmes to prospective students.They started planning from as early as August last year.

Both principals of Yishun JC and Innova JC will be holding talks for visitors to Yishun JC's open house.

As for Serangoon JC, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary on April 28, Mr Manogaran said there would be a final College Day, with alumni being welcomed back. There is also a commemorative book being planned.

"We want to close this chapter meaningfully," said the man who will be the final principal of the JC founded in 1988.

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