6 primary schools to merge into 3

Qiaonan Primary will turn 81 this year, but it will not see its 82nd birthday - it was named as one of six schools to be merged into three next year.

Qiaonan will combine with Griffiths Primary, a street away in Tampines, to form Angsana Primary. This will be run out of the Griffiths Primary compound.

In Bukit Batok, Hong Kah Primary will combine with Lianhua Primary, and will take on the latter's name and run out of Lianhua's current location.

Over in Bedok, Damai Primary will retain its name and building while absorbing Bedok West Primary.

In all, the names of four primary schools, Bedok West, Griffiths, Hong Kah and Qiaonan, will disappear next year from the school directory, which now lists 190 primary schools.

The Education Ministry (MOE) said the mergers are to "optimise resources and to offer a wider range of educational programmes and co-curricular activities".

It added that the selection of sites took into account factors such as accessibility and whether the infrastructure can support the merged school.

A letter sent by Griffiths to parents that was posted on social media platform Facebook also noted that the move was also to allow pupils to "enjoy up-to-date facilities".

MOE said it will appoint the principals and vice-principals for the three merged schools before the new school year.

The schools will also get new uniforms, though current pupils can still wear their old uniforms. "There is no need for them to change to the new school uniform immediately," said an MOE spokesman.

Primary schools in mature estates with falling numbers of young families are sometimes merged, such as Li Hua, Hong Dao and Ang Mo Kio North Primary, which merged in 2000 to form Anderson Primary. The last merger was in 2009, when Ghim Moh Primary was merged with New Town Primary.

MOE said children whose parents attended the merging schools will still enjoy priority placement at Phase 2A(2) of the Primary 1 registration exercise.

The six schools had mostly struggled to fill their places last year even as others had to draw lots to decide which child gets in. Hong Kah, for instance, had just 23 pupils registered out of 150 vacancies last year, while Qiaonan filled 30 of 120 spots, at the end of Phase 2C, the last phase of Primary 1 registration for Singaporean children.

Founded in 1933 on Lorong Koo Chye in MacPherson, Qiaonan is the oldest of the six affected schools. It moved to its present premises in Tampines Street 11 in 1985.

Said Qiaonan old boy Ahmad Salik Ahmad Ishak, 34: "As an ex-student, I definitely feel sad. Even the name will be changed. Next time when I tell people that I was from Qiaonan Primary, the school would already be gone."

Not only did all his four younger siblings attend the school, his two sons are also studying at Qiaonan now.

"Because of the small class size, teachers were able to give individual attention to the children, and regular and comprehensive updates to parents," said the allied educator.

Some parents also expressed concern that the merger will affect their children.

Mr Salik fears his 10-year-old son may find it hard to adjust. His 12-year-old son will not be affected as he finishes primary school this year. "The class size will increase, teachers will be busier, and the culture of the school will be different," he said.

But housewife Tina Aitcheson, 49, whose Primary 4 daughter attends Lianhua Primary, said: "The principal and teaching staff at Lianhua are fantastic. I believe they will make the transition a positive experience for the kids."


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