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Bertha HarianBertha Harian

News Reports

Parents’ school blues

My nephew will be three tomorrow and my brother is already eyeing a primary school for his kid. “What do you think,” he asked me. “Christian brothers school or this neighbourhood school?” he said as we drove past his school of choice. For crying out loud, the boy is only in playschool now! Then I read the piece on how parents have to submit proposals, volunteer longer hours to get their kid into a school of their choice under Phase 2B. And there’s no guarantee their application will be accepted either…..!

Whatever has happened? In the past, you get sent to any convenient primary school for a basic education. Even opting for a secondary school based on your grades isn’t too much of a hassle. Less stress for the kids, and less stress for the parents too. Now, the parents must qualify first.

As Minister Heng said today, schools have the discretion to decide on their volunteer policies. His hope is that parents volunteer with the “right mindset”. He claimed that there were parents who continued volunteering after their kids have left school. I wonder how many there are? Never mind what Heng said about the “right mindset”. I think probably every parent who decided to volunteer at a school do so with a school place in mind. After all, some change address and move house too for the same reason. Only one good thing: schools don’t accept money for places. But really, if someone makes a big donation to the school’s building fund, you’re not telling me the principal isn’t going to look more kindly on the parent’s application for the kid?

What does this say about our education system – you must make an effort for your kid right at the starting line? Then you’ll get results? What if you are a hawker and have no time because you struggle to make ends meet? Or you can’t beat that Phd-toting parent who’s come up with a business plan for the school or something? Got no time, got no energy, got no money, get left behind?

Only one way to counter this: Make sure every, every primary school is up to mark. Or at least spread around the good teachers. Or parents simply put more faith in the quality of not-so-popular schools. Fat hope.

Sigh. This aunty might as well go volunteer at some school, put up a project, pour in some money….in the hope that her nephew will get a place. Ridiculous.

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An ex-journalist who can't get enough of the news after being in the business for 26 years

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