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JCs Merger: An upset old boy’s lament – Three Points

Yesterday, MOE announced that 4 pairs of JCs would be merging. The affected JCs are Anderson and Serangoon, Meridian and Tampines, Yishun and Innova, Pioneer and Jurong.

The rationale given by MOE? Falling birth rates, which means lower enrollment numbers in the foreseeable future.

MOE added that these JCs are selected due to the geographical proximity, and gave their assurance that the unique programmes offered by these JCs would still be offered in the newly merged institutes.

I am an old boy from one of the 8 JCs. And I am upset. Here’s why.

1. The lower birth rates and lower enrollment explanation isn’t satisfying 

So, MOE tells us that they expect lower enrollments in the coming years, hence the need to merge JCs.

But wait, did you-know-ah, MOE just opened a new JC this year? And they also opened two other JCs since 2000:

  • Meridian JC (est 2003)
  • Innova JC (est 2005)
  • Euonia JC (est 2017)

Eh hello, then you waste tax payers’ money to open so many JCs in the first place for what? Just increase the enrollment slightly in the other existing JCs to accommodate lah!

It does seem like the 8 affected JCs now paying the price for MOE’s poor planning and lack of foresight in the past decade.

There’s no point saying “it is a difficult decision”, “we’ve agonised over it”, “we have very little choice” lah. If you screwed up, just own up and apologise. Get off your high horse.

It would’t change the fact that the mergers will still go, but at least it might make the bitter pill a little less bitter to swallow.

2. Why only the neighborhood government JCs?

Geographical proximity? Oh come on, Why don’t you merger Hwa Chong and National JC? After all, they are located side by side along Bukit Timah.

In terms of geographical distance, Anderson JC is nearer to Raffles. And why not merge Anderson JC with Raffles, instead of Serangoon JC?

Oh sorry, I forgot. We can’t touch the elite, can we? Especially when our natural aristocrat – our ministers and top civil servants – come almost exclusively from these elite schools. 

They know nothing about the feelings of those studying in peasant neighborhood schools. But our school culture and our experience aren’t any less valuable and memorable than theirs.

Alas, the elite will do what they will, and the peasants must suffer what they must.

And how come Minister of Education (Schools) Ng Chee Meng hasn’t spoken yet? His silence on the issue is deafening. Oh wait, i forgot again. He is from Hwa Chong, ain’t it?


3. Will there be enough spaces for average performers and late bloomers?

The 8 JCs might not be the the best (in terms of entry cut off points), but these JCs gave my friends and I a chance at a JC education when no one else would. And many of us would go on and do well in university – faring better than many of those from so-called better JCs.

But with the merger from 8 to 4, will there still be enough space for the average performer or late bloomer who scores 18 points for his/her L1R5 at O Levels?

MOE had given their assurance that all students who qualify for JC will have a place. We shall see about it in the coming years.

That is all.

The end.

1 Comment

  1. Andy

    This piece came across as cheap and lacking thoughtful thinking. The merger of schools is anti-elitist and not elitist as claimed by the original poster. I first talk abt my background. If the original poster feels he or she came from a peasant school, then i came from a beggar school. i grad from a school called millennia institute which in my view as a student at that time even students from neighborhood JCs are elites. Hence, i cant even imagine myself defending the merger. But i will still do it since i find too much flaws in the original article.

    If the poster had indeed did fairly well in his university as claimed, he or she should be familiar with the idea that grades and allocation of school places are determined by the god of bell-curve. The bell curve god will rubbish most of the poster’s arguments. MOE has alrd clarified in subsequent media reports that the proportion of students entering JC for each student cohort will remain the same, and student intake for existing school will be maintained. Considering that JCs which were merged were from the bottom-tier, statistically it will simply mean that existing elite or better JCs will have to take in more students who are “average performers” or “late bloomers”. This logic is not hard to grasp if the poster understands the bell-curve. Essentially, MOE’s move to merge bottom JC simply means that students will get to move up the bell-curve. This will have wider social significance given that these good schools will most likely have to admit students from more diverse socio-economic backgrounds and ethnicity.

    If any, this merger highlights that MOE has confidence that “average performers” or “late bloomers” can cope with rigorous academic programs started by those good JCs. There is no longer a need to put them in lower-tier JCs. So in fact, MOE is aligned with the poster’s comments that students from neighborhood JCs are equally good with students from good JCs. So the poster’s rant against against elite schools is flawed.

    If MOE adopts the poster’s suggestion to merge the top JCs and expand places at neighborhood schools, it will simply be a race to the bottom. The bell-curve simply moves down in an opposite direction.

    Lastly, the poster’s third point about whether there will be enough places for average performers or late bloomers is redundant. Like i say, MOE controls the bell-curve. They can simply push these students up.

    I hope the poster will think through how school places are allocated before ranting off. If not, social media will continue to be a circus.

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