SINGAPORE: The Ministry of Education (MOE) on Thursday (Sep 9) announced that it will increase Primary 1 places reserved for Phase 2C from the current 20 to 40, starting from next year’s registration exercise.
Phase 2C, which is for children who have no ties to a school, is usually the most competitive phase. Priority is based on distance, with places given first to Singaporeans living within 1km of the school.
The changes will apply to children who are starting Primary 1 in 2023.
Here are some things you should know about the latest changes.
WHY SET ASIDE MORE PHASE 2C PLACES?
MOE said it has “carefully weighed the different considerations and trade-offs when deciding the number of places to set aside for Phase 2C”.
This is to ensure that more children have access to schools near where they live, regardless of if they have prior connections to the schools.
“We recognise the convenience for a child to study in a nearby school, as it reduces travel time, allowing the child and family to spend time more meaningfully,” MOE said.
“While some schools may find the increase of 20 places under Phase 2C benefiting children in their immediate neighbourhood, this will invariably put pressure on the earlier phases, especially for Phase 2A1 and 2A2.
“We therefore have to strike a balance and are of the view that the doubling of reserved places in Phase 2C from 20 to 40 is one step in the right direction.”
In a Facebook post, Education Minister Chan Chun Sing said the number of students without affiliation who successfully enrol in a school near their homes has declined in recent years.
He also urged support for the changes to keep schools “open and inclusive”, as well as to enable children to have convenient access to schools near their homes.
“This will enhance the well-being of families, and build a stronger and more cohesive society,” he said.
HOW MANY SCHOOLS WILL BENEFIT?
With the change, all primary schools in Singapore will have at least 40 reserved places available in Phase 2C, MOE said.
“As an indication, the latest 2021 Primary 1 registration exercise data tells us that 32 primary schools (close to 20 per cent) would most clearly benefit from this change,” it added.
Sixty-four schools went to ballot in Phase 2C in this year’s registration exercise for Singaporeans living within 1km of the school.
Among them are Ai Tong Primary, CHIJ St Nicholas Girls’ School (Primary), South View Primary and St Hilda’s Primary.
Of these, South View Primary and St Hilda’s Primary were the most oversubscribed, with 130 applicants and 118 applicants vying for 20 places respectively.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR EARLIER PHASES?
Phase 2B will continue to have 20 reserved places, while Phase 2A1 and 2A2 will be combined into a single phase, MOE said.
Phase 2A1 is for children whose parents are alumni members of the school, members of the school advisory or management committee.
Phase 2A2 includes children whose parents or siblings have previously studied in the school, as well as those whose parents are staff members and those from the MOE kindergarten located within the school.
Under the new framework, a total of 60 places will be set aside in each school for Phase 2B and 2C at the start of the registration exercise.
If there are vacancies left from earlier phases, one-third will be allocated to Phase 2B and the remaining to Phase 2C.
This is proportionate to the number of reserved places for the respective phases, MOE said.
“It is also in line with our broader objective of setting aside more places for Phase 2C to ensure that more children with no prior connection to the school can attend a nearby school,” it added.
“Parent volunteers, church and clan members, as well as active community leaders will continue to be eligible for Phase 2B.”
WHY ARE THE CHANGES BEING IMPLEMENTED AT THE SAME TIME?
The changes to the registration framework will be implemented at the same time as they are inter-connected, MOE said.
“If we delay combining Phases 2A1 and 2A2, some registrants in Phase 2A2 would be very severely impacted as there may be relatively few or no places left in Phase 2A2 for several schools,” the ministry said.
“On the other hand, if we delay all the changes by one more year, this would also deprive those who would benefit from the increase in reserved places in Phase 2C.”
The ministry also encouraged alumni to “consider various options” when choosing their primary school for next year, including in other phases.
WILL MOE CONSIDER SETTING ASIDE MORE PLACES IN THE FUTURE?
MOE said that the changes were “announced after carefully weighing the different considerations and trade-offs, in order to ensure our schools remain accessible to students from all backgrounds”.
However, the ministry also added that it will closely monitor the annual trends in the Primary 1 registration exercise and “carefully consider if any further changes are necessary in the future”.
As part of this review, it had engaged a “range of stakeholders” for view and suggestions for enhancing open access to primary schools.
This includes school leaders from primary schools, representatives from school management and advisory committees, alumni associations, former students, grassroots leaders and parents.
“The feedback received from all these engagements were all carefully considered. We will continue to review our Primary 1 Registration Framework regularly to meet with the evolving needs of Singaporeans,” MOE said.