SINGAPORE – When Anglo-Chinese School (ACS) raised the idea of moving one of its schools to the heartland, the Ministry of Education (MOE) said it would not be tenable for the school to remain one for only boys.
Explaining MOE’s position on the school becoming co-educational, Education Minister Chan Chun Sing said in Parliament on Tuesday that ACS Primary remaining a single-sex school would have constrained options for families in Tengah when it moves there in 2030.
Such a scenario would result in an imbalance between boys and girls in the other schools in the area, said Mr Chan.
He added: “MOE was glad that the ACS board was open to this request and, subsequently, ACS’ board informed MOE that ACS Primary would be relocating.”
MOE does not have a plan to proactively convert existing single-gender schools to co-ed schools, but there have been several such cases over the decades, Mr Chan said.
He was responding to questions from Mr Yip Hon Weng (Yio Chu Kang) and Mr Gerald Giam (Aljunied GRC) on how MOE decides which schools to relocate, and if it has plans to convert more single-sex schools to co-ed ones.
Mr Chan said MOE takes a customised approach as the circumstances differ for each case, and that the ministry discusses with key decision-makers in each school and provides necessary support to facilitate the transition.
“MOE does not have a preference between single-sex or co-ed schools. Many of these schools have a history, and that’s why they are where they are now.”
MOE said earlier in February that ACS Primary, one of two ACS primary schools in Bukit Timah, will move from Barker Road in Newton to Tengah in 2030, as part of a major effort by the school to improve accessibility.
On Tuesday, Mr Chan said the ACS board of governors had approached MOE with the idea of moving one of its two primary schools to the heartland to serve a different community and inject more diversity into ACS’ student profile.
MOE then offered the board a site in Tengah, an up-and-coming Housing Board town, but in the course of discussions, the ministry explained that the school could not stay a single-sex one if it moved to the new campus.
Mr Chan said that when there are major changes for schools – including relocation and turning co-ed – MOE gives advance notice as far ahead as possible once plans are firmed up, and works with the school on transition arrangements to minimise the impact on existing students and their families.
Mr Giam also asked about the plans for the school’s Winstedt Road campus once it is vacated in 2039, given the recent enhancements made.
Mr Chan said the land will be returned to the state.
“Since the announcement has been made, I think our ground feedback has generally been positive, particularly from the people staying in the west, to have added options of new schools, including ACS in Tengah,” he added.