Tense moments as schools hold Phase 2B ballots

SINGAPORE - Nine kids, one spot - there were bound to be plenty of disappointed parents on Thursday at Fairfield Methodist Primary School.

Ms Angela Lau was one of them.

The luck of the ballot did not go her son's way, after the housewife spent 40 hours in the past year volunteering as a teacher's assistant to qualify for Phase 2B in the Primary 1 registration exercise.

"I didn't choose this school just because it's a good school, it's the only school near my home," said Ms Lau, who is in her 30s.

Her family lives near Haw Par Villa, which is between 1km and 2km from the school.

She will try again in Phase 2C, for one of the 19 remaining spots at Fairfield.

Phase 2C, which starts tomorrow, is for children who have yet to secure a place for next year, either because they have no links to a school or they were unsuccessful in the earlier phases.

Phase 2B, on the other hand, is for children whose parents volunteer at the school, are active grassroots leaders or have church or clan associations. Earlier phases were, among other things, for children with siblings in the school or whose parents were alumni.

Fairfield was one of the 24 schools - down from 28 last year - which had to hold ballots on Thursday.

Eight of them, including Ai Tong, CHIJ St Nicholas Girls' and Red Swastika, even had to choose between children living within 1km.

The squeeze for places was not as tight at Nanyang Primary in Bukit Timah, where 31 children balloted for 25 places.

Madam Rachel Teoh and her husband Heng Kuan Yong, 41, were delighted their son Kim Jae was lucky to get a place.

In the past year, the pair of doctors contributed more than 100 hours of volunteer work at Nanyang - from running the school's sick bay to being traffic wardens.

"I couldn't sleep well the night before the ballot, because I knew we were taking a gamble," said Madam Teoh, a 36-year-old mother of two boys.

Lawyer Arthur Yap, 35, was another pleased parent yesterday after his son Austin got into Catholic High, where 39 kids fought for 26 spots.

"I'm just glad we didn't have to go into the next phase which will be open to more parents."

Secretary Marie Koh, 34, admitted the situation was somewhat tense at Nan Hua Primary where her son Alden Mui was one of the lucky 15. Thirteen other applications had to be rejected.

"The mood was very intense, and when the last ball was called, there was a mixture of emotions among the parents - sadness, disappointment and anger," said Ms Koh, who has been involved with grassroots activities in Clementi for nearly three years.

"I had mentally prepared myself that my son wouldn't get in, so getting into Nan Hua is a bonus."

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