Not all primary schools can go single session by next year

THE goal of getting all primary schools to switch to a single morning session will not be achieved by next year.

Of the 32 primary schools that still operate both morning and afternoon sessions, at least half will stay that way next year, checks by The Straits Times have revealed.

In 2009, the Primary Education Review and Implementation Committee recommended that all primary schools switch to a single morning session by next year to free up afternoons for enrichment lessons.

Currently, 155 of Singapore's 187 primary schools are operating one session.

Of those that operate two sessions, Geylang Methodist School (Primary), Yew Tee Primary School and Rulang Primary School in Jurong are among those unlikely to make the switch by next year.

The Ministry of Education (MOE) would only say that it is continuing to "facilitate the transition of government primary schools to a single-session model".

A spokesman said that schools will have their enrolment reduced gradually to enable all primary schools to operate one session, adding: "Government-aided schools are given more flexibility in their transition timeline, as they have to take into account stakeholders' concerns."

However, The Straits Times understands the setback is due to upgrading delays at some schools.

Primary schools switching to a single-session model have to be upgraded and expanded to allow them to cope with the increase in the number of classes.

At Geylang Methodist School (Primary), for instance, upgrading works have been stopped for the moment after the school terminated its contract with the contractor, Tycoon Construction.

Principal Rina Liang said in a newsletter to parents last month that Tycoon had "ceased operations" and a new contractor is being appointed, with construction expected to resume after August.

Tanjong Katong Primary School will start upgrading works only in 2017.

It will move to a holding site in New Upper Changi Road from January 2017 to December 2018 while its permanent campus in Seraya Road, near East Coast Road, undergoes a revamp.

This year, 29 primary schools went from double to single session. Schools have been making the switch in phases since the recommendation was made in 2009.

MOE had said in 2011 that it will spend about $1 billion upgrading existing schools and building new ones.

Wong Li Wah, 37, has a six-year-old son waiting to enter Primary 1 next year and is deciding between Red Swastika School, which will likely remain double session next year, and Park View Primary School, a single-session school.

But she said: "I'm more concerned about the environment and whether the school is a good fit for my son."


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