Parents hail Primary 1 admission tweak

SINGAPORE - Parents and educators alike have given a policy shift in the Primary 1 admissions exercise the nod, praising it as a move towards fostering greater inclusivity in schools.

The change to the scheme, under which 40 places will be reserved in every primary school for those with no prior connection to the school from next year, was announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the National Day Rally on Sunday.

The Education Ministry said yesterday that the places will be reserved before the start of the Primary 1 Registration Exercise, and will be open to registrants in phases 2B and 2C.

Mr John Wei, a parent, told My Paper that the policy shift is the right step in "striking a difficult balance that keeps so-called top schools open".

The 36-year-old full-time graduate student, who will enrol his son, now aged five, in primary school next year, said: "(The school's alumni) are the richer for sharing and for what others can bring to the mix."

Another parent, Ms Leela Jesudason, said her six-year-old son just "missed the boat" as he has already registered for a place at St Andrew's Junior School next year.

"(Reserving) 40 places is not a lot, but it's a good starting point," said the 47-year-old managing director of a public-relations agency.

Her family moved from Upper Thomson to Potong Pasir in order to get a better chance of enrolling her son at the school.

Mr Chia Soo Keng, principal of Henry Park Primary School, told My Paper that the new policy will give prospective pupils with no connection to the school "an enhanced opportunity".

Mr Tan Yap Kin, principal of Ai Tong School, called it "the way to go" as it provides more opportunities for all children.

However, some parents have raised concerns that the policy change will lead to further bottlenecks down the road, and called for more than 40 places to be added.

Housewife Haslina Muhammad, 35, said she expects to face stiff competition when the time comes to enrol her younger son, who is now three, in a school.

Because of that, the mother of two told My Paper that she would most likely register her younger son at Mayflower Primary School under Phase 2A(2), for children whose sibling has studied at the school of choice. Her elder son is expected to start Primary 1 at the school next year.

In a Facebook post on Sunday night, Education Minister Heng Swee Keat said that there is "no perfect policy that can satisfy everyone".

"Education is always a work-in-progress," he said, pointing out that the changes to the system "underscore the fact that we value every child".

"We will work to enable every child to find success, to be the best he can be," he said.

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