SINGAPORE: Hit by falling student enrolment, eight junior colleges (JCs) will merge in 2019 - the first time that JCs here are merging, the Ministry of Education (MOE) announced on Thursday (Apr 20).
The following JCs will be merged:
- Anderson JC and Serangoon JC in the north-east, with the merged school located on the site of Anderson JC.
- Meridian JC and Tampines JC in the east, with the merged school located on the site of Meridian JC.
- Yishun JC and Innova JC in the north, with the merged school located on the site of Yishun JC.
- Pioneer JC and Jurong JC in the west, with the merged school located on the site of Pioneer JC.
Fourteen primary schools and six secondary schools will also merge in 2019, making this the largest school merging exercise in the past decade.
All eight affected JCs are Government schools which do not offer the Integrated Programme.
The mergers are based on geographical proximity so as to maintain a good spread of schools across the country, MOE said, adding that the sites for the merged schools were chosen based on accessibility to transport and quality of infrastructure.
Plans for the vacated school buildings are still being finalised but they could become holding sites or special education schools, which need more capacity, the ministry said.
Singapore's fall in birth rates has seen enrolment in JCs decline since 2014. The birth rate of Singapore citizens and permanent residents between 1993 and 2002 fell from about 49,000 to 39,000, a drop of about 20 per cent. The corresponding JC enrolment between 2010 and 2019 is projected to fall by a similar 20 per cent, from about 16,000 to 12,800.
Sufficient “critical mass” is needed for a school to offer a good range of educational programmes and co-curricular activities for its students, the ministry said.
A typical JC1 intake is about 800 students, MOE said, adding that if it does not take action, several JCs are likely to see a JC1 intake of just 200 to 400 students by 2019.
The geographical distribution of the school-going population has also shifted over the years, the ministry said. “While there is a higher demand for school places in newer housing estates, the demand in more mature estates has fallen,” it said.
TEACHERS WON'T BE RETRENCHED: MOE
Four JCs - Serangoon, Tampines, Innova and Jurong - will stop taking in JC1 students from next year. MOE said this is to minimise the need for JC students to relocate physically to another site.
The ministry also said that after the merger, it will still be able to meet the expected demand for JC places.
No staff members of the affected schools will be retrenched, MOE stressed. Affected teachers at the junior colleges will be posted to the merged school or redeployed - either to other schools or to the ministry’s headquarters.
Training and support will also be provided to teachers deployed to teach at the primary or secondary levels.
“We will make sure we will have bridging programmes organised by MOE and network support sessions to ensure that they have the pedagogical skills and content knowledge to be able to deliver if they are redeployed to another level to teach,” said MOE’s director of schools, Liew Wei Li.
The names of the merged schools will be announced at a later date, while the new principals of the schools will be announced next year, said MOE.
It added that the history and heritage of the schools will continue to be passed down to the future cohorts of the merged schools, through a heritage space in the merged schools’ buildings.
Ms Liew added that the merged JCs will collaborate to ensure that there is continuation of the history and heritage of both JCs in the merged one.
“All the special programmes that are in the JCs will be in the merged JC,” she said. “And even though a certain JC will not be taking in JC1s, that special programme will start in the other merged pair, so there is no discontinuation of special programmes.”
"Some of the special CCAs that are so close to their heart will also continue,” she added.
NO SUDDEN SWING TO POLYTECHNICS: MOE
The Education Ministry said the proportion of JC-eligible students has remained stable in the last five years, and there was no "sudden swing" towards polytechnics for tertiary education.
While the supply of places may be tighter next year with the four JCs stopping their intake of new students, MOE said it was prepared to maximise the places in the remaining JCs to accommodate demand.
As to why new JCs such asEunoiawere still being opened if enrolment was dwindling, MOE said that Eunoia JC was opened not to increase capacity but to give students more options, and for a more varied educational landscape.
The cut-off points will change for some JCs with the merger, the ministry said, with schools such as Anderson and Pioneer JCs likely to raise their cut-off points. These cut-off points are fluid and determined by student choices. All students who qualify and apply for JCs will be given a place, according to MOE.