Governance an issue being considered in JC mergers: Dr Puthucheary
Contrary to the view that only government junior colleges (JCs) were considered in the latest schools merging exercise, Dr Janil Puthucheary said in Parliament yesterday that there was also the issue of governance within the schools to consider.
The Senior Minister of State for Education was responding to Non-Constituency Member of Parliament Dennis Tan, one of the seven MPs to raise questions on the impact of JC mergers.
In April, the Ministry of Education announced that along with the merging of seven pairs of primary schools and three pairs of secondary schools, Serangoon, Tampines, Innova and Jurong JCs will be absorbed by Anderson, Meridian, Yishun and Pioneer JCs respectively.
Mr Tan had said there was "some talk" that only government-funded JCs, mission JCs and those that are not affiliated and do not have an integrated programme had been merged.
Pointing out the differing governing frameworks between a government-aided school and a government school, Dr Puthucheary told the House: "If you are trying to merge two schools with two very different governing frameworks, there are additional challenges.
"Not impossible, but it adds an added layer of complexity which we felt was not needed at this point in time (and felt) that we could do it without having to engage in a more difficult exercise."
Acknowledging that the mergers are "painful but necessary", he reiterated yesterday that the JC1 intake was projected to drop from 16,000 in 2010 to 12,800 in 2019.
"If MOE does not take any action now, several of our JCs would find themselves with JC1 intake of below 400, less than half of the typical 800.
"Some would even struggle to fill 200 places. When this happens, the educational experience of the students enrolled in these JCs will be severely compromised," he said.
If MOE does not take any action now, several of our JCs would find themselves with JC1 intake of below 400, less than half of the typical 800.Dr Janil Puthucheary
Dr Puthucheary added that redeployed teachers will be given bridging courses, in response to Tampines GRC MP Desmond Choo's question about how teachers can be prepared for school mergers.
Where possible, affected teachers will be given lighter teaching loads to help them adjust.
They will also have the chance to be attached to their new schools before the start of their formal postings, said Dr Puthucheary.