During the Ministry of Education’s (MOE) Committee of Supply debate in Parliament on Wednesday (3 March), Minister for Education Lawrence Wong, shared that the Primary 1 registration framework is being placed under review. This is being done to decide if the total number of seats set aside under Phase 2C—for students without priority admission—can possibly be increased.
The Ministry of Education (MOE) is currently reviewing the P1 framework to check how they can go about these plans in an appropriate manner, Mr Wong added.
The reason for this decision was limited seats and increased competition.
Mr Wong explained that competition for seats in popular schools in Singapore has intensified in recent years. This has led to more school to conduct balloting (for the 20 seats set aside).
“Such popular schools are not limited to a particular locality … As a result, even with the 20 places set aside for Phase 2C, some children do not get to attend a school near their home,” he added.
What Is Phase 2C And How Are Kids Enrolled In It?
Image source: Facebook / Lawrence Wong
In the seven phases of the annual registration exercise, Phase 2C is the fifth phase. As you may know, it is based on home-school distance and is an open phase for those who do not want priority admission. It is also considered the most competitive phase since in this phase most schools conduct a ballot.
Generally, the MOE and each school would set aside 40 places for kids who have no prior connection to the school. Out of these, 20 are assigned in Phase 2B and 20 in Phase 2C; and priority is given to those living near the school.
Now, Phase 2B is highly lucrative for kids whose parents are school volunteers, active community leaders or associated with either church or clans directly connected to the school.
Mr Wong explained, “This has helped to give every Singaporean child a chance to enter a primary school of their choice.”
However, this trend has also led to increased competition among ambitious parents.
Increasing Places for Phase 2C
Image source: Facebook / Ministry of Education, Singapore
The discussion on the review—brought up by Mr Patrick Tay (PAP-Pioneer) and Mr Shawn Huang (PAP-Jurong)—emphasised on the need to enhance open access in primary schools, specially during Phase 2C.
During the debate Mr Tay pointed that many parents choose to register their children in schools in the earlier phases. This leaves Phase 2C with fewer seats for families who live near the schools. He suggested that to counter this issue a trade-off may be necessary. This trade-off will enhance open access.
Taking into account all points, the Minister for Education made some crucial statements:
- The MOE was sympathetic to parents’ appeals. “We receive these appeals at the Ministry, and are sympathetic, because there are many good reasons why children should be able to get a place in one of the schools near where they live,” he noted.
- MOE doesn’t want schools to become closed circles. During the debate Mr Wong also noted that kids of school alumni are given priority in the earlier phases of registration. As per the authorities, this is to help “families to build connections to their schools, and for each school to develop its own traditions, history, and identity.” But the MOE doesn’t want this to become a closed group. “At the same time, we do not want our primary schools to become closed circles, which you can only access if your parents or siblings went there,” Mr Wong added.
- MOE wants schools open for children from all backgrounds. This point was made to emphasise that increasing seats in Phase 2C would mean greater competition. This, especially for the more popular schools. The Minister added, “We will have to study this carefully and balance the competing demands – to give Singaporean children and their families a better chance at their school of choice, particularly if it is near their home, while still recognising the merits of providing some priority to certain groups.”
- MOE will remain committed to ensure the quality of every primary school. Mr Wong noted, “Wherever our children go for their studies, they will be well served, and well supported to reach their fullest potential.”
The decision by the MOE to place Primary 1 registration framework under review might help prospective parents in a long run. Let us know what you think about this step and share your school admission experiences with us here.
Lead image source from Facebook / Ministry of Education, Singapore.
News source: CNA
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