Time to revamp P1 registration system

SINGAPORE - I am a mother of twin girls, who will be turning four this year, and a two-year-old boy.

Recently, I was told by friends that if I wanted my children to attend reasonably good primary schools, then I would need to start volunteering at these schools.

I wonder if my children are at a disadvantage for these reasons:

- My husband's primary school has shut down; hence, he has no alumni ties to speak of. My primary school is relatively far away from where I live, and I would not want my children to make such a long trip to school every day.

- My house is not within a 1km radius of any school. I was told by a couple of schools that are about 1.5km away that I would not even qualify as a parent volunteer.

For years, the Primary 1 registration system has used Phases 1 to 2C to decide which child should be granted admission priority. With the exception of Phase 1, which is logical and fair, Phases 2A(1), 2A(2) and 2B all relate to whether a parent has connections with the school.

This does not seem fair and encourages elitism. In fact, this is contrary to the Government's bid to encourage upward social mobility.

Why should a child be granted priority admission just because his parent is a school committee member or community leader?

Also, I have heard of parents who rent or purchase a home just so they will be within a 1km radius of their children's desired school. Again, this results in a situation where the children of well-off individuals gain an advantage when applying for entry into popular schools.

Finally, why do parents need to volunteer at schools to gain priority admission for their children?

Volunteering deprives parents of precious family time. Besides, many volunteer activities are held during working hours, which makes it difficult for working parents.

I hope the Ministry of Education will review the system. At the very least, some requirements should be abolished.

Ko Hui Yen (Ms)