SINGAPORE: Four pairs of primary schools and five pairs of secondary schools will be merged between 2022 and 2024, the Ministry of Education (MOE) announced on Wednesday (April 7th).
“Due to declining birth rates and changing demographics in our housing estates, enrollment in our schools has declined. At the same time, demand for school places is growing in some areas,” said Liew Wei Li, school principal and deputy defense minister. -General Director of Education.
Paired primary schools are Juying and Pioneer Primary School, Eunos Primary School and Telok Kurau Primary School, Farrer Park Primary School and Stamford Primary School, and Guangyang Primary School and Townsville Primary School.
Paired high schools are Bedok Green High School and Ping Yi High School, Chua Chu Kang High School and Teck Whye High School, Fajar High School and Greenridge High School, New Town High School and Tanglin High School, and Fuchun High School and Woodlands Ring High School. .
The names of the merged schools will be announced later.
These schools were identified in terms of enrollment trends, the geographical proximity of the schools to be merged, the suitability of the partners for the mergers, and the infrastructural capacity of the schools they accept, Liew said.
The birth rate has dropped from about 46,000 a year in the 1990s to about 35,000 in recent years, the MOE said at an information meeting on Wednesday.
“At the same time, the demographic data of the population in the newer estates have changed, resulting in an uneven distribution of students across schools,” the ministry stressed.
“As we see at the national level, the number of students has decreased. And then at the same time, because there are estates that are maturing … you will see fewer young families, and then there are newer estates that actually have more young families. So there is an even more uneven factor distributions. ”
The previous MOE merger, involving 14 pairs of schools, took place in 2019. It was the largest school merger exercise in a decade, involving for the first time eight lower schools and 14 primary schools and six secondary schools.
WATCH: Schools are preparing for the biggest merger in 20 years
In this round, all mergers will take place in 2023, except for the merger of Juying Elementary School and Pioneer Elementary School (2022) and Fuchun High School and Woodlands Ring High School (2024).
Juying Elementary School and Pioneer Elementary School are located in mature areas, and enrollment in both schools has been “constantly declining” in recent years, the MOE wrote in a press release.
Schools will merge in 2022 to “facilitate the revised coordination” of the Jurong regional route running through Pioneer Primary.
The merged school will be temporarily housed at the current location of Juying Elementary School, but will eventually move to a new location in Tengah Plantation County from January 2025, the MOE said in a press release.
This will meet the “incoming demand” for primary schools in Tengah and address the “declining demand” in the Jurong West area. This will be the first primary school in Tengah, the MOE said.
The merged school will not accept new Primary 1 cohorts at its temporary location between 2022 and 2024, and will only accept the first set after moving to a new campus in Tengah.
Existing students of the combined school will continue to study on the Juying Elementary School campus after the opening of the new campus, and the last set of Elementary School 6 students will graduate in 2026.
“This means that the combined school will operate on two campuses between 2025 and 2026 to minimize the need for their 5th and 6th grade school students to drive to the new tengah campus,” the press release reads.
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As for Fuchun Secondary and Woodlands Ring Secondary, the program to restore and improve the latter has already been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and will not be completed until 2023.
The two schools will merge in 2024 to allow the merged schools to take over the upgraded campus, the MOE said in a press release.
A LONG HISTORY
Some of the schools participating in the upcoming exercise have a long history. Tanglin High School, established in 1964 as an integrated Tanglin Technical High School, recently merged with Clementi Woods High School in 2016. The school it will merge with in 2023, New Town Secondary School, was founded in 1965. , in the year when Singapore gained independence.
In addition to the drop in enrollment, future development plans at the current location of Tanglin High School were also part of the considerations for its merger with New Town High School. The MOE said the relevant agencies will provide more details when they are ready.
In 2016, Fajar Secondary and Ping Yi Secondary also merged with Chestnut Drive Secondary and Bedok Town Secondary, respectively.
The Ministry of Education is “very careful” that the merger “is not the best thing that can happen to a school” and is addressing issues of multiple mergers of these schools.
“But when we look at it, sometimes we just have to accept that local demographics just don’t allow us to hold back the merger,” the ministry said.
“For example, Bedok – we looked at the numbers. Bedok has actually matured for a few years and the number of high school students has dropped considerably. So even when the first merger took place in 2016, we knew it was only a matter of time before we we just had to consider more mergers in this area. We just didn’t know which school we might have to consider. ”
Telok Kurau Primary School was formerly the English Telok Kurau School, founded in 1926. Among its former students are former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew and former Malaysian Prime Minister Hussein Onn.
Teck Whye Elementary School began as Jalan Teck Whye Elementary School in 1959, located at 36 Jalan Teck Whye. In 1996 he moved to 30 Jalan Teck Whye and in 2001 he moved to his current location on 11 Teck Whye Walk.
“As with all previous mergers, MOE staff will no longer be downsized,” Liew said.
In the year before the merger, discussions will be held in both schools on what would be a “good mix” of staff, and a new principal will be announced, the Interior Ministry said at the meeting.
“Those (who) will not be part of the merged school, we obviously have plans to be referred and redeployed to other parts of the education system, usually to another school for teachers,” the ministry said.
“This is our guarantee and it is not about numbers. We will ensure that everyone is redeployed.”
The ministry will “work closely” with the affected schools to “ensure a smooth transition” to a joint school for students and staff, Liew said.
“I know that any merger is a painful exercise. It is a painful exercise for students, alumni, especially staff and school leaders,” she added.
“The MOE headquarters is committed to working closely with them to ensure that this process is as smooth as possible and that they can see the results, which is a vibrant and stronger school for students to come to their joint school.”
“The history and heritage of both schools will be documented in the heritage space of the combined school building,” the MOE said in a press release.