Should Primary 1 Admission Policy Be Revamped?




A recent Singapore newspaper reported this:

In his two years as a property agent, Mr Sylvester Lee was asked by at least half a dozen parents if they could pay to use a false address in order to enrol their children in a school of their choice.

He told them “no” every time.


Selection by address

“Their intention is to lease a place for the school to check. They were willing to pay a lot of money just for the address,” Mr Lee, 39, told The New Paper on Monday (Jan 29)’- The Straits Times

With such incidents rising from time to time where primary schools find out that these parents use a fake address to get into primary schools, is this a sign that the primary one policy needs to be revamped?

According to the Ministry of Education, MOE, there are three registration procedures for entry to primary schools. Phase 1 is for students who have an older sibling studying at their primary school of choice. Phase 2 (consisting of Phase 2A (1), 2A (2), 2B, 2C) is for students who have parents or siblings that are alumni of the school of choice or parents who have served in voluntary positions to the school of choice (parent volunteers, active community leaders). Phase 3 is for students who are neither Singapore Citizens nor Permanent Residents.


The myth of “top” schools

Before we address the need for a review, parents must note that there is no such thing as a ‘top’ or ‘neighbourhood’ primary school. Parents must understand that Singapore’s standard of education at the primary school level is relatively balanced and uniform.

Although some schools might have more students doing well in the PSLE, this is not always indicative of the quality of the schools’ education. In a nutshell, it is simply erroneous to assume that if a child enters a better primary school he is bound to do better, or that he will flounder in secondary school if he comes from a neighbourhood primary school.

Should we eliminate the system that favours the alumni of a primary school over one’s physical proximity to the school? Would a balloting system be fairer? Food for thought for MOE and other relevant authorities, who have done an excellent job putting Singapore’s brand of education on the world map.