Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Primary school balloting hots up under new ruling

SINGAPORE - A record 90 schools conducted the balloting exercise for Primary 1 registration yesterday, under Phase 2C of the registration process.

This is the first phase open to Singaporeans and permanent residents (PRs) who are ineligible for the four earlier phases, which are for children with siblings in the school or parents who are alumni, staff, volunteers or grassroots leaders.

It was expected to be the most keenly watched phase, after a new ruling by the Ministry of Education (MOE) meant that Singaporeans will be given priority over PRs in the balloting of places.

And it appeared to be the case, with only 22 out of the 90 schools conducting ballots for PRs. PRs that The Straits Times spoke to said they are feeling the effects of the new ruling, with many unable to get their children into popular schools near their homes.

At the other 68 schools holding ballots, PRs stood no chance as even Singaporeans were being turned away, The Straits Times reported.

One of those disappointed was six-year-old Aloysius Chen, who burst into tears when his number did not get called during Nan Chiau Primary School's balloting exercise.

His father, Andy Chen, 39, told The Straits Times that the experience was "too cruel for someone his age to go through", and he would not bring his younger son to a similar balloting exercise in future.

Nan Chiau, located in Sengkang, is one of the most sought after schools, which had 180 applicants vying for 59 places.

The popular schools this year are in the newer housing estates such as Sengkang and Jurong West, reported The Straits Times.

MP for Jurong GRC, Ang Neng, attributed the higher demand for schools in Jurong West to more young couples buying resale flats in the area to be near their parents.

Seven out of 12 Jurong West schools were over-subscribed in Phase 2C this year, up from a third last year.

Nanyang's principal, Lee Hui Feng, said parents are now more realistic and have taken the Education Ministry's advice to try other schools.

With more parents eyeing such schools, traditionally popular schools such as Nanyang and Rosyth Primary have seen a drop in demand compared to last year.

About 4,000 out of the 40,000 expected to enter Primary 1 next year have yet to secure places in schools.

Those unsuccessful in this round of balloting can register under Phase 2C Supplementary which takes place from August 14.

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