Next week in parliament, Workers' Party (WP) Member of Parliaments (MPs) will be asking Speaker of Parliament, Mdm Halimah Yacob about the closure of four Junior Colleges (JCs) - Serangoon JC, Jurong JC, Tampines JC and Innova JC. The JCs will be merged at the site of Anderson JC, Pioneer JC, Meridian JC and Yishun JC respectively.
The issue will be a key debate topic for the parliamentarians next week.
The following are the questions:
Non-Constituency Member of Parliament, Mr Leon Perera: To ask the Minister for Education (Schools) (a) what is the junior college (JC) enrolment size that is deemed to constitute minimum "critical mass"; (b) what is the expected percentage of total JC places with a cut-off point at or over 10, post-merger of the JCs; and (c) why did the Ministry reject the option of retaining the four JCs slated for the merger and reducing class size with some programmes operated on a cluster basis with JCs or Institutes, as necessary.
Non-Constituency Member of Parliament, Mr Dennis Tan Lip Fong: To ask the Minister for Education (Schools) in respect of the merger of schools and junior colleges (a) what are the criteria used to decide on how the respective schools or colleges will merge with their respective counterparts; (b) what are the criteria used to decide on which school or junior college should give up the use of their name or existing premises after the merger; and (c) whether all the affected schools and junior colleges have been consulted prior to the decision by the Ministry.
Member of Parliament for Aljunied GRC, Mr Pritam Singh: To ask the Minister for Education (Schools) why the Ministry did not consider shelving the establishment of the new Eunoia Junior College and convert one or more junior colleges out of the four that are to be discontinued to offer the same educational programme planned for Eunoia Junior College.
Non-Constituency Member of Parliament, Assoc Prof Daniel Goh Pei Siong: To ask the Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) with the increase in the number of autonomous universities to six and increase in cohort participation rate to 40 percent by 2020 (a) how will the reduction of junior colleges from 16 to 12 affect the supply of GCE "A" Level graduates for university admission; and (b) whether the number and percentage of polytechnic graduates admitted to the universities be increased.
The move, announced on 20 April this year, was received with a majority of netizens expressing their concern and unhappiness over the decision. It also prompted MPs and netizens to ask about the considerations made before merging the schools.
It is said that the fall in live births in Singapore over the past two decades had led to a corresponding decline in overall demand for school places at the national level, prompting the government to merge secondary schools and junior colleges.
The Ministry of Education (MOE) had said that more schools will need to be merged over the next two years to address the significant continued fall in cohort sizes. MOE will also merge JCs for the first time to maintain the quality of a JC education. They also noted that "all eligible students are assured of a place in JCs".
MOE said that from 2015 to 2017, they merged three pairs of primary schools and 11 pairs of secondary schools. They had also in March 2016 announced that four pairs of secondary schools will be merged in 2018. In 2016, three new primary schools were opened in Punggol.
According to MOE, the changes are as follows:
- Open one new Primary School in Sengkang in 2018.
- Merge seven pairs of Primary Schools in 2019.
- Merge three pairs of Secondary Schools in 2019.
- Merge four pairs of Junior Colleges (JCs) in 2019. MOE will merge four pairs out of 23 schools that offer a JC programme