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Pri 1 registration changes: Parents mull back-up plans, others see fresh hope in getting places for children

SINGAPORE — When Mr Ng Chi Wee and his wife found out that they were having a daughter, his wife signed up for an alumni membership at CHIJ St Nicholas Girls' School to boost their girl’s chances of getting enrolled there.

Some parents said that the changes to the Primary 1 registration process have affected their plans in getting their children into the schools of their choice, but the changes do contribute to a fairer system.

Some parents said that the changes to the Primary 1 registration process have affected their plans in getting their children into the schools of their choice, but the changes do contribute to a fairer system.

  • From next year, the Primary 1 registration exercise will merge Phases 2A1 and 2A2 into a single phase
  • This reduces the chances for parents hoping to secure a Pri 1 spot for their child through the alumni route
  • Some parents in alumni groups are disappointed, but acknowledged that it is fairer for all
  • They are also pondering their options such as volunteering at other schools

 

SINGAPORE — When Mr Ng Chi Wee and his wife found out that they were having a daughter, his wife signed up for an alumni membership at CHIJ St Nicholas Girls' School to boost their girl’s chances of getting enrolled there.

That was five years ago even before the child was born. The couple were keen for their daughter to have the same schooling experience as Mrs Ng, who completed her secondary school education there.

It also helped that the school is located in the Ang Mo Kio area where they live.

Then came the announcement by the Ministry of Education (MOE) on Thursday (Sept 9) that it is making changes to the Primary 1 registration procedures.

MOE will combine Phases 2A1 and 2A2 into a single phase from next year’s registration exercise onwards.

Phase 2A1 gives priority admission to children whose parents are members of the school alumni or advisory or management committee. 

Phase 2A2 is for children in MOE Kindergartens under the purview of a primary school, have siblings who studied in that school, or parents who had attended or now work at the school. 

Mr Ng, 40, who works in the insurance industry, said that there were “mixed reactions” to the news.

“My wife as an alumni didn’t feel too good as our child’s chances have been lowered now that the new Phase 2A will have fewer quota for alumni members.

“But even though the policy change is at the expense of my daughter’s enrolment in my wife’s alma mater, I welcome it because it levels the playing field for applicants and is for the broader good of society.”

Their sentiments reflected that of several other parents approached by TODAY.

Besides combining Phases 2A1 and 2A2, MOE said that the number of reserved places under Phase 2C will also be doubled from 20 to 40 from next year.

Phase 2C is for children who live closest to a school but do not have links with it such as parents or siblings who had studied there.

The changes are intended to help more children obtain a place in a primary school near their homes, MOE said. They will apply to children starting Pri 1 in 2023. 

Knowing now that it will be harder for their child to get into the school via the alumni route, Mr Ng is at least glad that he had made a back-up plan earlier.

He has been serving as a parent volunteer at Anderson Primary School as a “contingency plan” since June last year.

“Maybe it’s a good thing that I did that,” he said.

RETHINKING PLANS

Other parents interviewed by TODAY said that the news have derailed their plans somewhat but they do see the changes as contributing to a fairer system. 

For Ms Cheryl Mah, 36, who has a five-year-old daughter, the changes left her feeling “quite disappointed”.

Ms Mah, a content strategist who joined CHIJ alumni association last year to boost her daughter’s chances of securing a Pri 1 spot at CHIJ Primary Toa Payoh, is now worried that her daughter’s chances will be reduced.

She would like her daughter to attend the school because she feels that it imparts good values in students and it is not too far from her home in Ang Mo Kio.

The flipside is that the doubling of reserved spots under Phase 2C will grant Ms Mah’s daughter a higher chance of securing a spot at CHIJ St Nicholas Girls' School since they live within 1km of the school.

With the latest changes, another parent is now wondering if she should stick to her initial plan of registering her younger daughter, aged three, at her alma mater Temasek Primary school or at St Anthony’s Canossian Primary School where her older daughter will be starting Pri 1 next year.

Madam Nor Suhailah Abdul Rauf, 33, a part-time teacher, took part in this year’s Pri 1 registration exercise for her older daughter and described her experience with the registration process as “frustrating”.

Despite her best efforts, her older daughter had been unable to secure a spot at Temasek Primary School.

Not only had Mdm Suhailah moved from Punggol to Bedok South to be within 2km of the school, she had also registered as its alumni in November 2019.

However, she did not qualify for Phase 2A1 because she had failed to sign up as an alumni before June 30 in 2019 as required.

She missed out on the ballot for Phase 2A2 and also in Phase 2C, and eventually enrolled her older daughter in St Anthony’s Canossian Primary School instead. 

“It’s a good thing for parents who are going to register their kids for Pri 1 in the upcoming years. Those who live nearer to the school, especially, will stand a better chance of getting in.”

It will also even the playing field for parents who may not be able to afford alumni membership fees or those who are enrolling their first child and new to the registration system, she added.

HOPE RENEWED

For some parents with no alumni membership, the expansion of slots under Phase 2C will boost their child’s chances of getting into their preferred primary school.

Ms Dahliawati Mohd Amin, a 40-year-old business owner, was unable to secure a spot for her oldest son, now aged eight, at Temasek Primary School two years ago under Phase 2C due to a high number of applicants.

This was even though they live within 1km of the school. 

Since the spots reserved under Phase 2C will be doubled during the registration exercise next year, Ms Dahliawati is taking another shot: This time, at getting her second son, aged five, into Temasek Primary School.

“For logistical reasons, it is better for my second son to attend his older brother’s primary school, but I would rather he try for a school that is closer to home,” she said.

She also expects that there may be lower demand for places in the school given that there were fewer babies born in 2016 compared to the year before. She did some online research on this before the registration exercise.

Figures from the Department of Statistics Singapore showed that the total number of babies born to residents here in 2016 was 36,875 — 986 fewer than the previous year.

Ms Dahliawati is aware that there may still be competition from parents who volunteer at the school, try to move to live closer to the school or sign up as an alumni member.

“It’s (still) worth trying,” she said. 

Related topics

Primary 1 registration school education parents alumni volunteer

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