Singapore—At the annual Appointment and Appreciation Ceremony for Principals at the Shangri-La Hotel on Friday, (Dec 27), Education Minister Ong Ye Kung said that the social mixing of pupils from varied backgrounds should not be left to chance, and must therefore be done so with deliberate intent.
TODAY reports the Education Minister as saying, “We must not leave social mixing to chance. We need to make it an intentional effort, to design experiences for students so that social mixing informs and shapes their perspectives in and out of school.”
Mr Ong told the educators gathered that the government has seen a measure of success in its endeavors to improve social mixing among pupils, which has resulted in better combinations of students of diverse backgrounds.
The Education Minister said, “Our education system is one of the key national platforms that foster such social mixing. The friendships forged in school are the threads that strengthen our social fabric over time.”
One factor that the Government studies, he said, is the number of primary schools where the students of a secondary school came from, explaining that a “higher number means a larger catchment of primary schools, and better mix.”
For every 100 students in Secondary 1, there should be 20 schools of origin is a rule of thumb the Ministry of Education (MOE) follows.
The percentage of non-Integrated Programme (IP) schools that went above this number was only at 13 percent in 2004. In 2014 the figure rose to 46 percent, and for this year, it’s at 51 percent.
For Integrated Programme schools, the percentage that exceeded this number in 2004 was 43 percent. In 2014, it rose to 76 percent and for this year, it’s now at 88 percent, meaning that 15 out of 17 IP schools have exceeded this number.
The Government has determined that IP schools have a better social mix in comparison to non-IP schools, a fact that the Education Minister calls “counter-intuitive” because the popular perception of IP schools is that they are “more exclusive, and less diverse.”
At Raffles Girls School, in 2014 its Secondary 1 students were from 82 schools, while this year, the number of Primary origin schools has risen to 107. For Raffles Institution, there were 93 schools of origin in 2014, while this year, there are 103 schools of origin for its Secondary 1 students.
At Nanyang Girls High School, in 2014, there were 83 schools of origin, and for this year, there are 91.
For Hwa Chong Institution, from enrolling Secondary 1 students from only 88 schools in 2014, this year it has taken in Secondary 1 students from 100 schools.
Mr Ong said, “I asked Director-General of Education (Wong) Siew Hoong what explained this counter-intuitive phenomenon. He said it was actually very intuitive. Parents are increasingly prepared to send their children to neighbourhood primary schools, and as a result, students who are eligible for IP secondary schools come from a more diverse range of primary schools.”
“Better social mixing in school is something we will continue to strive for. The phasing out of streaming to be replaced by full subject-based banding in secondary schools will have a further and significant impact,” he added. -/TISG