Massive Schools Merger Exercise: A Flurry of Internet Responses

Source: Ministry of Communications

A rumor brewing for several months became a reality on 20 April 2017 when the Ministry of Education announced that come 2019, 28 schools will be merged; for the first time this includes 8 junior colleges being coalesced into 4 surviving institutions of pre-university learning. It certainly got folks on the internet discussing excitedly, with much of the online chatter observed to be focusing on the fate of the affected junior colleges.

Some analyzed/questioned the rationale behind the schools being cannibalized, others were a tad critical of why top-tier JCs like Raffles Institution and Hwa Chong Institution remained unscathed. Existing students and alumni members of the affected schools were also perplexed as to why some combined entities are scheduled to migrate to seemingly more run-down campuses. While MOE has maintained that the mergers were based on geographical proximity considerations in an attempt to ensure a healthy spread of schools across the country, not all are convinced. One thing is almost for sure though: steadily declining birth rates certainly compelled the ministry to take action, however unwilling it felt. Aggregated below are a series of opinions served up by Singaporeans in various forums such as Kiasu Parents and Reddit, as well as social media avenues including Facebook.

By Catmoon:

"Don't really understand MOE's move.......... ?

If the reason was truthfully all about "falling enrollment", then why start another new JC (i.e. Eunoia) if there are not enough students? Surely they had done their homework earlier????

Editor's Note: Eunoia Junior College is an Integrated Program JC, whose machinations are different from the merged JCs which typically accept 'O' Levels students.

But I have to say it was clever of MOE to put a stop to "appeals" and then turnaround and put the blame on "falling enrollments".

I assume that they are really serious about cutting down the number of students going on to universities. Unless they are going to force the universities (besides SIT) to open up more spaces for poly graduates - which would definitely be good news indeed.

I guess in the future, JCs will become even more elitist than before - since there will be fewer students taking the 'A' Levels.

The smarter students will have more doors open to them (more places in Integrated Program JCs) but the average students will find it much harder to receive the same opportunities and resources.

I wonder if this will result in more average students falling through the ever-widening education gap?"

By CaptainOmen:

"Merging of JCs due to declining birthrate but can open Eunoia JC (IP & SAP schools are affiliated). Hmmmm, would love to see how MOE explains its way out of this without acknowledging elitism. Plus, why not wait for the merger and then convert a vacant school into Eunoia? Save $$$"

By dentedwing:

"Why is Innova going to Yishun??? I don't really mind a merger, I'm just shocked that we are moving into YJC when IJC's school building is so much newer..."

To which AsianTeen concurs:

Even people here in YJC are baffled by this announcement. I went to IJC for a band exchange yesterday and your school is way newer and much more spacious than mine; in comparison and our school's facilities are so much older, classrooms rather poorly ventilated. Utterly shocked."

zathralos offers a possible explanation:

"Innovian here, my teacher told me that YJC's lecture theatre(~800) are much bigger than ours(~600), that's why its more feasible to conduct lectures there to comfortably accommodate the larger number of students."

By Keropokpok:

"Oh we're gonna Merge 4 pairs of JCs" just makes "oh we're gonna close down 4 JCs" sound better. Imagine future teachers from these JCs telling their students that they were from e.g. "JJC" and they'll be like "Huh where is that?" By the way, its rather sad and strange: WHY CHOOSE TO RELOCATE TO PJC WHEN JJC HAS FULLY AIR-CONDITIONED CLASSROOMS???"

By marigoldhl:

"LOL merging of JCs - the signs of falling enrollment is too obvious to not notice... what else to blame but the declining birth rates? Don't say JCs, even SAF also facing manpower crisis...

A couple of years ago my CCA faced declining manpower issues - something many other CCAs had to grapple with as well. Some CCAs even got shut down entirely. AJC also cut down 2 classes (Science and Arts combined) every batch from 37 (my seniors) to 33 (my juniors) to less than 30 now - the speed of enrollment decline is pretty alarming truth be told.

"There were in fact already rumours as far back as two years ago saying that SRJC and MJC will merge, who knew two years later this really happens..."

By littlefiredragon:

"Smaller class sizes = better teaching quality, but seems like MOE doesn't want that. The schools affected are also the non-elite ones, which perhaps also means that MOE thinks they are undeserving of a higher quality education?

Yet Eunoia JC was started recently for the IP students, which in other words, is a big middle finger they are giving out. "

On why established names like RI and HCI remained intact, warbedminds reasons:

"Those schools are more established and have longer histories. And I'm guessing MOE definitely doesn't wish to offend any big shot alumni from those top end JCs. "

xinderw supports him, adding:

"Yeah probably like what you say. But it's sad that our Ministers say all the schools are the same but their actions (like this merging exercise) can be seen as elitist and contradictory to what they say."

By samleecx:

"AJC and SRJC have vastly different 'O' Level L1R5 cut-off points for entry no? When I was still schooling AJC accepted 9/10 points and SRJC on the hand 18/19 points ? Why the hell are they using AJC's shitty infrastructure anyway?"

marigoldhl chimes in, partially agreeing:

I gotta agree AJC facilities are extremely shitty as compared to any other JC out there; if MOE wants to shift AJC out from its Ang Mo Kio campus, probably most if not all the alumni will cheer. AJC's COP remained super stagnant over the years while SRJC's COP kept improving steadily. AJC by the way is also older than SRJC by 4 years."

By phtthp:

"The better psle scorers will prefer to head straight to Integrated Program JCs, instead of to those JCs that are closing down very soon and are only accepting their final batch of 'A' Level students.

After closing down, names of these JCs become history. Once upon a time, there was this JC called ...

With more new attractive courses becoming available at polytechnics, more 'O' Level students might prefer to go the polytechnic route, hence lesser demand for junior colleges? So time to roll down the shutters for some? "

By floppy:

"My brother went from a 19 pointer in the 'O' Levels to an AAB score profile in the 'A' Levels; he subsequently graduated with a 2nd Upper Class Honours in university. It's possible that some students are late bloomers and may do well when given another chance.

That said, the numbers are likely to be very, very small and being pragmatic, it is better to merge non-performing and under-subscribed institutions in order to consolidate and make use of resources more efficiently.

It's life. You can't please or cater to everyone."

jetsetter replies:

"Agree with you on efficiency and cost savings. If the lecture theatres, library, labs and gym are only 50% utilised, CCAs not attracting enough talents to properly form a full team or orchestra, I think it makes money sense to transfer the small cohorts to another JC to maximize space usage.

Who's footing these government JCs' water (rates to be raised by 30% in the future) and electricity (air-con) bills every month?

Just feel sorry for some older JCs and their alumni."

By Adam Ng:

"Actually, students these days have a stronger preference towards polytechnics and ITEs compared to the time when I was a student. Perhaps it is due to the rise of startups and entrepreneurship, fewer numbers of the younger generation hold the elitist view of attempting the JC-university route.

Another interesting bit is how the polytechnics and ITEs have repositioned themselves. The negative connotations associated with these educational institutions have not only diminished significantly, these schools have also added much value to the courses they offer as a hands-on approach becomes more espoused in this time and age.

As society changes and progresses, folks from the older generation also need to adapt to change. We cannot let our opinions of what is good and what isn’t, what is elite etc sway and affect the learning trajectories of our younger ones.

My two cents."

Before ending off, a lighthearted take on the impending new names for the merged junior colleges:

Carefully harvested by the Czar (Site Founder)

Dated 21 April 2017


Ping Yi Sec has “eaten” two schools because you didn’t give birth enough

Truth Behind Delay of The New Government Integrated Programme Junior College (IPJC)

How MOE should start charging for parking in schools