To MOE: Abolish P1 priority registration system
As more schools go for ballot, it is high time for MOE to abolish the registration system.
ABSOLUTE PRIORITY FOR CITIZENS
The government has repeatedly stated that Singapore Citizens will be given absolute priority over Permanent Residents. But in reality, the priority given is not absolute. At each phase, Singapore Citizens do have priority over Permanent Residents. But a Permanent Resident who gets endorsed as an active community leaders would enter at Phase 2B, over majority of Singaporeans. It is unclear if this explains why Permanent Residents are becoming more active in PAP Meet-The-People Sessions(MPS).
If the government is sincere about giving total priority to Singapore Citizens, there should be a total segregation between Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents. All eligible Singapore Citizens should be processed first under the various phases. After all Singapore Citizens are placed, then the Permanent Residents will be processed. That is to say that even if a PR stays within 1km of Henry Park or Nanyang Primary, he can only be considered after all Singapore Citizens have been considered, unless a sibling is already studying there.
And newly converted Singapore Citizens should be classified as Permanent Residents.
MORE REVAMPS NEEDED
1. School Advisors and Management Committee members are given high priority
There is a lack of transparency in this category. Firstly, schools are not required to publicize names of advisors and members of the management committee. Some do but some don’t.
As a start, MOE should mandate all schools to publish names of all advisors and member of the management committee, and indicate when they were appointed. This is to have parity since Parent Volunteers and Active alumni members do have to serve at least one year.
Second, why should those from the management committee be given priority?
If you look at Nanyang Primary, the committee comprises largely teachers of the school.
Why should teachers of a school be given priority? Are they not performing a job and getting paid for it? If the rationale is on the ground of convenience, then should not parents who work within 1km of the school be given the same priority as well? MOE should explain itself.
Furthermore, if priority continues to be given to staff members, would it not lead to an undesirable trend where teachers always flock to the top schools, and actively try to avoid the lesser known schools? How can every school be a good school if the good schools entrenched themselves by drawing in all the better teachers and parent volunteers?
2. Priority given to clan members or related church members
As we understand, schools are built with public funds, and teachers are paid by public funds as well. As such, why should clan members or church members be given priority over other Singaporeans who also dutifully pay their taxes? Should not all Singapore Citizens be given equal access?
3. Active community leader priority
There is an odd restriction in this category. One must volunteer in the vicinity of the school. So if a parent is an active volunteer in Taman Jurong, helping with all the hardship cases, he will not have any priority when applying to say Henry Park. To be considered for HP, he must serve in the vicinity of HP. For those who are familiar with the neighbourhoods around HP, there are largely prime condos and landed mansions. What kind of community service is there to perform other than at PAP Meet-The-People Sessions(MPS)?
The MOE should make clear what constitutes as an active community leader, other than those endorsed by PA and PAP. Should someone who helps out at old folks homes, or cancer centres be less deserving than a party volunteer?
4. Parents volunteering forever
Some would think that a parent need only volunteer for 18 months. Unfortunately, it was revealed that some schools continue to pressure parents to serve as parent volunteers even after a child gets admitted to the school.
The MOE should put a stop to this. No school is allowed to get a Parent volunteer to continue serving, even if he is willing. This is again to give parity to inactive alumni members of the school. Most alumni members are inactive in the school's activities but were still accorded priority come admission for their children. Schools are public funded, so all Singapore Citizens should be given equal access. Why should parent volunteers be made to work more hours than alumni who did not even set foot within their alma mater in the last two decades?
MOE CAN DO MORE
While MOE had introduced 40 places in each school to be set aside for Non- Alumni members, more should be done.
For 2015, perhaps MOE should just set aside 40 places for alumni members, after accepting those with siblings connection. The rest should be just based on pure ballot, regardless of distance from the school. If a lower income parent staying in Taman Jurong would like to try his luck for Henry Park, who is to say no?
Lest we forget, schools are public funded institutions. If alumni think they should have a bigger say, then by all means please set up your own fund and privatize the school.
Revamping primary school registration is a small step towards a more equitable and inclusive society.
This was reproduced with permission from editors of The Real Singapore.
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