Thu, Sep 10, 2009
The New Paper
Victoria school alumni: Boys only, please

THEY have been labelled as 'stubborn and in denial'.

Stubborn because they have refused to compromise on their stand, and in denial because they believe there is no need for too drastic a change to bring about progress.

At a press conference called by the Old Victorians Association (OVA), president Vernon Teo 'stubbornly' reiterated his stand, which the OVA has held since 2005.

That there is no need for Victoria School (VS) to go co-educational to go up the academic ladder, as it is already achieving this.

But the school's executive committee has been pushing for it to go co-ed and merge with Victoria Junior College (VJC).

Go public

When the committee backed VJC's latest proposal to extend its Victoria Integrated Programme to start at Secondary 1 rather than Sec 3, the OVA decided that it was time to make its position public.

Mr Teo and two OVA council members - property developer Lim Chap Huat and former Business Times news editor Quak Hiang Whai - said the OVA was 'saddened, disappointed, and puzzled' by the proposal.

If the proposal, under review by the Ministry of Education (MOE), goes through, VJC will be in direct competition with VS both for boys as well as in inter-school competitions.

Mr Teo, 46, managing director of CPD Productions, likened the proposal to 'seeing a close sibling leave without knowing why'.

'What is their objective? This is something not thoroughly communicated to us stakeholders,' said Mr Teo, referring to VS-VJC alumni, parents, and current students alike.

To Mr Teo and the more than 1,000 alumni who have made their voices heard on Internet petitions, VJC's proposal is 'not sustainable' and 'could hurt both sides'.

The OVA, he added, was not against change and progress.

'The educational landscape is changing. But surely there must be workable solutions that would not break up the family,' he said.

'We are adamant about keeping VS' legacy as the best environment for education is in a single-sex school.'

The OVA says it arrived at its position in a measured manner.

It conducted several 'public consultation exercises' where it sought feedback from stakeholders about the issue.

'There is unanimous resistance from the old boys, parents and even the public to the current situation (where VJC will go on its own and compete with VS),' said Mr Teo.

So the OVA has come up with three counterproposals.

The first is a VS-VJ merger, but with a centralised management, in the style of Raffles Institution and Hwa Chong Institution, while maintaining traditions.

The second is for the Victoria family to collaborate with an existing all-girls' school to 'provide students' for the six-year integrated programme. VS would groom the boys and the sister school the girls, before the two streams join in Year Five of the programme.

Or, the OVA suggests, as did The New Paper in July, the establishment of an all-girls' school within the Victoria family.

The female students would then study at a separate campus.

The 1,100-strong OVA claims it does not intend 'to interfere with the running of the school or schools'.

Said Mr Teo: 'We are merely concerned about preserving our heritage and whether the new entity would be fit to carry our 'brand' name.'

Mr Teo said the green light for the submission of the proposal was given after a vote by the Victoria Executive and Advisory Committee. However, The New Paper understands that only seven members turned up to vote.

The other 11 members were apparently canvassed for their vote on the phone.

When contacted, VJC principal Chan Poh Meng would say only that 'the MOE is in the process of assessing the workability and suitability of the extension of the (integrated programme).'

Executive and advisory committee acting chairman Ng Yat Chung also declined to comment.

Mr Teo said: 'Come back to the family and talk. There'll be no hard feelings.'

MOE confirmed it had received a letter from the OVA regarding VJC's proposal to extend its integrated programme. It said it is in the process of evaluating the proposal.


1. A VS-VJ merger with centralised management.

2. Collaboration with existing all-girls' school to 'provide students' for the Victoria Integrated Programme

3. Establishment of its own all-girls' school within the Victorian family

Nurul Asyikin Mohd Nasir, newsroom intern

This article was first published in The New Paper.

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