MOE’s Phase 2A(2) Scheme May Give MOE Kindergarten Students An Unfair Advantage
Every child’s 6th birthday marks the start of what most Singaporean parents dread — Primary 1 registration.
With MOE’s latest policy, the nightmare may begin 2 years earlier at kindergarten.
Students of MOE kindergartens (MK) co-located with primary schools will now get higher priority for Primary 1 admission, as announced on Mon (27 Nov) by MOE.
They will qualify under Phase 2A(2) for the 2018 Primary 1 registration exercise as part of a pilot programme.
Previously, Phase 2A(2) was reserved only for children whose parents or siblings are alumni or staff members of the schools. However, this change has parents up in arms over a perceived disadvantage that private kindergartens now have.
Based on 5 possible implications of this new policy, here’s why MOE kindergarten kids may have an unfair priority for primary school admissions.
1. MOE’s priority scheme only applies to MOE kindergartens and does not apply to private schools.
Unfortunately, private kindergarten students will not qualify under Phase 2A(2), even if their kindergarten is located within a primary school.
MOE reasons that their new Phase 2A(2) policy will allow primary schools to ensure kindergarten students remain in a familiar “physical, social and educational environment” to “smoothen their transition” to Primary 1.
MOE also cites continuing similar curriculum from kindergarten to primary levels to allow for better assessment.
Since private kindergartens do not have similar organisational arrangements, Phase 2A(2) will ensure that MOE’s primary schools can now choose to admit children attending their ‘affiliated’ MOE kindergartens.
In private kindergartens however, MOE has no say over their admission process and will not be able to implement this scheme.
2. Securing a place in MOE kindergartens will help your other children get into primary school.
Parents with multiple kids may now have to consider the chances of their other children’s getting into primary school when choosing a kindergarten.
As long as the eldest child in the family can secure a spot in an MOE kindergarten, his or her siblings will be granted priority admission. They can then all qualify through Phase 2A(2) for Primary 1 registration in the co-located MOE primary school.
MOE has ensured a demand for places in their kindergartens as the perks of securing a place in primary school for every child in the family are clear.
As for private kindergartens, this is an advantage they are definitely unable to match.
3. Children of parent volunteers qualify at a lower priority phase.
MOE’s new policy will cause children of parent volunteers to qualify at a lower priority phase than attendees of MOE kindergartens.
CNA reported that housewife Felicia Tee, had earlier opted not to enroll her five-year-old in MK@West Spring as she found a private kindergarten closer to her block.
She then decided to volunteer for at least 40 hours at West Spring Primary School for her son to qualify under Phase 2B.
Despite her efforts, her son will now have lower priority for P1 admission under MOE’s new policy than if she had enrolled him in MK@West Spring.
All in all, MOE kindergarten attendees can qualify at an earlier phase for primary school admissions, if they enroll in a co-located school.
4. MOE’s new policy will place additional stress on parents of non-MOE kindergarten kids.
MOE’s new policy may place additional stress on parents looking to secure a primary school place for their children.
This is because MOE is “unable to predict the demand situation”, explaining that it “differ(s) from year to year” in individual primary schools and MOE kindergartens.
To solve this, MOE intends to open up to 50 MOE kindergartens taking in 60 to 120 children per level by 2023.
This means there will be 6,000 new places in 50 MOE kindergartens for the K1 level which partially fulfills the 40,000 pre-school places promised by PM Lee earlier this year.
For now, we know that at least 6,000 of these children will be given higher priority of admissions to their co-located primary schools, but what about the other 34,000 students?
Unfortunately, MOE has yet to reveal plans on how they will translate these additional pre-school places into primary school slots.
So it’s probably better to place your bets on MOE kindergartens, for now.
5. A decline in admissions and qualified pre-school teachers in private kindergartens is expected.
MOE has been operating 15 kindergartens for about four years. By 2023, this number is expected to hit 50, with all new kindergartens to be co-located in primary schools, as announced by PM Lee Hsien Loong during the National Day Rally.
Of the 3 kindergartens currently not co-located in primary schools, MK@Fernvale Link will be relocated to Fern Green Primary School’s premises in 2019. MK@Yishun on the other hand, will be relocated to Huamin Primary school in 2020. There is no word on what will happen to MK@Tampines yet, according to their official webpage.
Since the advantages of enrolling in an MOE kindergarten have been established, this will probably lead to a lot of smaller, privately owned kindergartens seeing a decline in student admissions.
Additionally, MOE kindergartens have been trying to attract top pre-school educators to their school through their pre-school teacher training programme with generous remuneration packages.
All things considered, qualified pre-school teachers in private schools may choose to jump ship to work at MOE kindergartens instead.
Are MOE kindergartens superior?
It does seem like MOE is aggressively promoting the advantages of their kindergartens over private ones.
With this new policy, parents remain unsure if they will be able to secure a place in primary school easily without enrolling their children in MOE kindergartens.
In MOE’s defense, they have stated that a minimum of 40 places in every primary school will be guaranteed at later phases of admissions, namely Phases 2B and 2C.
These phases are for children whose parents are school volunteers or children who have not registered in a primary school.
MOE also clarified that there are “sufficient primary school places on a regional basis” and that no child will have to “travel a long distance” to attend school.
May the odds be in every child’s favour
A word of caution to parents who wish to volunteer as tribute to secure your child’s place in primary school — MOE’s clearly not having it anymore.
Truly kiasu parents now know that planning for your child’s education has to begin at age 4 at least.
That being said, although it may come down to a ballot, surely all schools are good schools right?
Featured image from MOE Kindergarten’s LinkedIn.