Kiasu parents prepping for P1 registration

With Primary 1 registration kicking off on Thursday, the kiasuparents.com website is gearing up for a very busy time. Traffic at the site, which gets about 10,000 hits daily, may swell 10 times.

But when it comes to parenting, Mr William Toh believes there is nothing wrong with being kiasu. He after all goes by the moniker Chief Kiasu - playing on the Hokkien term meaning "fear of losing" - on the website the 48-year-old co-founded in 2007.

He says parents who look into primary schools, even when their children are still infants, or move closer to a school so their kids stand a better chance of getting in, do so because they care.

"Being kiasu may have a negative connotation but parents are kiasu because they want to give their children the best," said Mr Toh, a father of two children aged 14 and eight, who are studying in Victoria School and CHIJ St Nicholas Girls' Primary.

Kiasuparents - whose other two co-founders are IT professionals Yip See Wai and Soon Lee Yong, both 40, and married to each other - is again gearing up for a hectic time this week.

Parents, whose children are set to enter Primary 1, consult its guide on primary school education and the historical data of school balloting trends.

They also ask each other for advice on which school to send their children to.

One top question on the website, which has over 80,000 members, is which are the best primary schools - which the founders say they refuse to answer.

Instead, "one good way is to volunteer in the school, to find out if the school is suitable for your child", said Mr Yip, who was a parent volunteer at Yew Tee Primary before his son started school there.

But some say that a website like Kiasuparents fuels anxiety.

Last year, when the Education Ministry did not name the top students in the national examinations, parents were quick to start their own lists on the website.

"It is good for parents to talk to other parents, as it helps them understand issues better, but parents should not use the website to compare one school with another, as every school is different," said retired principal Christine Ho, 63.

But Mr Toh, who left his job as an IT director in 2010 to focus on the website, believes Kiasuparents is a success, judging by the content on its forum.

He said: "It used to be filled with mainly questions and answers but now we get less of that and more sharing of opinions on education issues."


Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.

Purchase this article for republication.

SERVICES