By Non-Constituency MP Yee Jenn Jong
[Delivered in Committee of Supply on 13 March 2013]
While MOE wants every school to be a good school, there is great disparity in results between schools. The highest and lowest median PSLE T-scores amongst schools last year are 247 and 160 respectively, a difference of 87. Mr Lee Kuan Yew had observed that admission to primary schools is based on the social class of parents. Six out of 10 pupils in six of the top primary schools live in private houses.
It is useful to review the primary 1 admission system. It is a stressful process for some, shifting house and doing volunteer work to get their children into top schools. I agree that priority should be given to those with siblings already in a school for the sake of convenience. Beyond that, we can consider a system with higher balloting chances for alumni, school volunteers and those living near the school, but it need not guarantee their position over others like in the phased system today.
I feel community leaders need not be given priority. Being a community leader for the purpose of getting into top primary schools does not gel with the spirit of community service.
With the change, we will have a better mix of students of different social backgrounds in our schools, allowing better integration amongst pupils.
I hope MOE can better spread resources across schools, reduce class size and review the need to centralise gifted students in top schools. Then, there may not be as much stress over which primary schools to enter.