Why merge only neigbourhood junior colleges?

By Zhu Hau

I refer to the recent news about the 8 junior colleges being merged, which will lead to the closures of Jurong JC, Innova JC, Tampines JC and Serangoon JC. In the news, it was mentioned that MOE’s rationale for doing this is “falling birth rates” and “changes in population demographics across different estates also result in an uneven distribution of students across primary and secondary schools”.

What a freaking lie! Why is it only neighbourhood schools end up being merged? Didn’t the government just open a new JC to cater to elite students from prestigious girls’ schools like SCGS and CHIJ St Nicholas? If the birth rate is so low, why bother to open a new JC?

Why not merge Hwa Chong JC with National JC since they are located directly opposite each other in Bukit Timah? Saves space, right? Pioneer JC was built in 1999, Meridian JC in 2003 and Innova in 2005. Plus You-know-yah JC just started this year! And then secondary schools were allowed to start Senior High aka Pre-U sections: Dunman High in 2005, River Valley High followed suit in 2006, ACS Independent in 2008 and SJI in 2013. And you also have specialized independent schools set up that have Pre-U sections, with NUS High School of Math and Science in 2005, SOTA in 2008.

With Sing Stats checking on population figures year in year out, you’re telling us that you can’t see the population decline coming from a mile away? All these Pre-Us and JCs set up over the last decade or so in spite of clear demographic changes. You telling me there’s a baby boom in the late 80s and 90s that warrants 4 new JCs and Senior High sections? And what the hell is PS21 doing? Is this section even active in the Prime Minister's Office (PMO)?

This is a thinly veiled attempt to deprive neighbourhood school students, many of whom are average performers or late bloomers from having the benefit of a junior college education. And we all know that the junior college route is the most direct pathway to securing a place in local universities like NUS, SMU and NTU. An education at the local universities grows further out of reach for neighbourhood school students with this latest move by MOE.

I’m disappointed that the government has chosen to entrench the academic caste system instead of making higher level education more accessible to young Singaporeans.

This post was first published over at TR Emeritus on 25 April 2017. It is reproduced with permission.


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