The completion of Singapore's first high-rise junior college (JC) is delayed by 11/2 years because the area around the site has been earmarked for possible transport infrastructure use.
The Education Ministry (MOE) had to take into consideration "a new requirement" by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) for the site at the junction of Sin Ming Avenue and Marymount Road.
This was revealed in an e-mail MOE sent on Wednesday to parents who had asked for more information regarding the delay.
Last week, students in the Integrated Programme (IP) at Catholic High, Singapore Chinese Girls' and CHIJ St Nicholas Girls' schools were told that their new JC will not be completed by the mid-2018 target.
The date was instead pushed to the end of 2019.
IP students in the Integrated Programme go straight to JC without sitting the O levels.
In the e-mail, MOE planning officer Gullnaz Baig said the ministry needed more time to design and construct the new JC "due to LTA's future infrastructure within the vicinity of the new JC site".
Ms Baig, who had written the reply on behalf of Permanent Secretary for Education Chan Lai Fung, said the ministry also needed more time for "extensive pre-construction works" after the current lessee, the Nature Park Driving Range, moves out of the space at the end of the year.
The new JC is also the first high-rise one, and the ministry needs to ensure that "facilities are optimally designed within constraints of the site", Ms Baig added.
A spokesman for LTA told The Sunday Times the new JC's location is "safeguarded for a future infrastructure project". It is understood that LTA has set aside the area for possible transport projects and it should not be built on.
The new JC, which is yet to be named, will start operating in 2017 at a temporary site - but that too has not gone to plan.
The former Institute of Technical Education campus at Bishan Street 14 had been earmarked to host the JC.
But St Joseph's Institution (SJI), which has been occupying the campus since December 2013, is unable to move back to its Malcolm Road school because upgrading works there are yet to start.
The tender is yet to be awarded.
The holding site of the new JC will now be at Mount Sinai, at the site of the former Raffles Junior College.
The delay of the planned JC means more cohorts will have to study at the holding site, and some will not get to experience the new campus. The changes have upset some parents and students.
Retiree Andrew Ng, 48, who has two boys in Catholic High, said: "The children were promised a new JC. Why should they be inconvenienced? For those who live around the Bishan or Ang Mo Kio area, can you imagine the commute to Mount Sinai for them?"
Marymount resident Tan Mei Lin, 48, also has a son at Catholic High. The Secondary 3 student now hopes to switch from the IP track to O levels, "so he can choose to go to another JC", she said.
This article was first published on April 26, 2015.
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