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Bertha HarianBertha Harian

News Reports

Clueless about schools

So the G has cut its funding for six independent schools. How much? Dunno.  But it seems that this is the “integrated programme’’ portion of the grant it gives to these schools. Another portion is for the Gifted Education Programme. That stays. How much? Dunno. Now, it seems that operating cost to finance a secondary school kid is about $10,800 last year. Is this the same as for a kid in an independent school which has both the Gifted and IP programmes? Dunno.

Seems that ST would do well to do some digging before running the story.

So what we know is that six (out of dunno how many) independent schools have got some G funding cut.

According to ST:

Asked for the reasons behind these moves, MOE stressed that funds for all schools, including the independent ones, are reviewed regularly and holistically. (which are meaningless words particularly endemic in MOE replies)

While agreeing that the recent review for independent schools meant less funding for some, it has also resulted in more money for others.(Odd, so every individual school is reviewed and then funds disbursed? Not equally given out?)

After taking everything into account, independent schools saw changes in “total resourcing” ranging from cuts of 3 per cent to increases of 5 per cent. (total resourcing – you would think that MOE would be in the forefront of plain speaking…As for cuts from 3 per cent and increases of 5 per cent…which lucky school got 5 per cent extra and why? Dunno)

It also said that the per capita operating cost of educating a secondary school student had almost doubled in the past decade, going from $5,700 in 2004 to $10,800 last year. (So this is the reason for cuts?)  

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BTW, there was a directive to both independent and (dunno how many) mission schools to moderate campus fund-raising.   

According to ST:

It explained that there was less need for such funds to be raised since the Government has already ensured that each school has what it needs in terms of hardware… But it was ready to be flexible and will continue to approve fund-raising requests on a case-by-case basis, based on their “educational merits”.

Oh. It’s targeting air-conditioning. It says schools should have fans where practicable. What’s the bet that when the haze comes around again, you will have schools saying they should have air-conditioning? What does it cost to air-condition a whole school or some classrooms? ST didn’t give any figures. Nor did it name schools with full air-conditioning. Sigh. Anyway, when these schools raise funds, what do they raise them for usually? Dunno.

Are we really concerned about cool classrooms or campus fund-raising to build a swimming pool or tennis courts? That’s what some parents seem to think – these top schools can afford to build such amenities which only separates them from the hoi polloi.  

According to ST:

Parent Annie Lim, 47, who chose not to send her son to an independent school, applauded MOE for being “sensible”.

“Why should some schools have pools and tennis courts? I’d rather taxpayers’ money is spent building such facilities for a cluster of schools.”

Wait a minute. You mean pools and such things are part of the infrastructure and not raised by the schools?

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Then there is a parent who said that fees at independent schools are $300 a month while it’s just $22 in mainstream schools, so the kids should be entitled to more facilities? You could ask the question the other way around – why give so much grants to independent schools when their parents can afford to pay?

Sigh. This story is totally confusing because we have …

  1. No clue about how MOE decides on its grants for schools, whether independent or not.
  2. No clue on how much grant any school gets, because it’s a state secret or perhaps, it doesn’t want schools to get jealous.
  3. No clue on what constitutes infrastructure MOE builds and what would be at the school’s own fund-raising expense.
  4. No clue as to what higher independent school fees really mean for the parents – schools can pay its teachers more?

 ST and MOE get an “F’’ for this story.


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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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