Siglap Sec: A school that feels like home

Siglap Sec: A school that feels like home
Six of the 11 English Literature students at Siglap Secondary, where the small enrolment has given the school a homely feel. They are (from left) Raphaelo Siddons, Lim Zhong Yan, Giovanni Chao, Regina Lai, Charmain Tan and Anthia Chen.

When Siglap Secondary student Benny Ong became a scout in Secondary 1, the uniformed group had about 20 members.

Next year, there will be only three, and the school will no longer offer scouting as a co-curricular activity (CCA). "It is a pity because I've learnt so much from it. It was where I discovered my passion for cooking," said Benny, 16, now in Secondary 4. His two elder brothers were scouts too.

The Pasir Ris school had earlier shut down its Red Cross group, also because of dwindling membership. One reason for the low numbers is the 58-year-old school has seen its enrolment shrink from a peak of 1,400 in 2003 to about 830 now.

It is one of about 40 schools with fewer than 1,000 students. Education Minister Heng Swee Keat has promised help, especially by sending more teachers to continue running programmes and activities.

Siglap Secondary principal Low Joo Hong said the decision to end scouting was painful, given that its scouting tradition goes back to 1956, and devoted former students came back regularly to help run activities. But the CCA no longer had the critical mass to carry on.

What works better, he said, are CCAs that do not need a specific number of members to run, such as a photography club. The last three scouts will continue with activities, together with former students, until they leave school.

The school now takes in 200 Secondary 1 students each year, half the intake of a decade ago.

Retired principal Sapii Kasamin, 70, who headed the school from 1995 to 2003, recalled that when he took over, there were 870 students at the old Cheviot Hill campus, a two-storey building with 20 classrooms in Siglap.

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