(Source: www.channelnewsasia.com)

SINGAPORE: Hit by falling student enrolment, eight junior colleges (JCs) will merge in 2019 – the first time that JCs here are merging, the Education Ministry announced on Thursday (Apr 20).

The following JCs will be merged:

– Anderson JC and Serangoon JC in the north-east, with the merged school located on the site of Anderson JC.

– Meridian JC and Tampines JC in the east, with the merged school located on the site of Meridian JC.

– Yishun JC and Innova JC in the north, with the merged school located on the site of Yishun JC.

– Pioneer JC and Jurong JC in the west, with the merged school located on the site of Pioneer JC.

Fourteen primary schools and six secondary schools will also merge in 2019, making this the largest school merging exercise in the past decade.

All eight affected JCs are Government schools which do not offer the Integrated Programme.

The mergers are based on geographical proximity so as to maintain a good spread of schools across the country, the Ministry of Education (MOE) said, adding that the sites for the merged schools were chosen based on accessibility to transport and quality of infrastructure.

Singapore’s fall in birth rates has seen enrolment in JCs decline since 2014, the ministry said. The birth rate of Singapore citizens and permanent residents between 1993 and 2002 fell from about 49,000 to 39,000, a drop of about 20 per cent. The corresponding JC enrolment between 2010 and 2019 is projected to fall by a similar 20 per cent, from about 16,000 to 12,800.

Sufficient “critical mass” is needed for a school to offer a good range of educational programmes and co-curricular activities for its students, the ministry said.

A typical JC1 intake is about 800 students, MOE said, adding that if it does not take action, several JCs are likely to see a JC1 intake of just 200 to 400 students by 2019.

The geographical distribution of the school-going population has also shifted over the years, the ministry said. “While there is a higher demand for school places in newer housing estates, the demand in more mature estates has fallen,” it said.

The ministry also said that after the merger, it will still be able to meet the expected demand for JC places.

FOUR JUNIOR COLLEGES TO STOP TAKING IN STUDENTS

Four JCs – Serangoon, Tampines, Innova and Jurong – will stop taking in JC1 students from next year. MOE said this is to minimise the need for JC students to relocate physically to another site.

No staff members of the affected schools will be retrenched, MOE stressed. Affected teachers at the junior colleges will be posted to the merged school or redeployed – either to other schools or to the ministry’s headquarters.

Training and support will also be provided to teachers deployed to teach at the primary or secondary levels.

The names of the merged schools will be announced at a later date, said MOE. It added that the history and heritage of the schools will continue to be passed down to the future cohorts of the merged schools, through a heritage space in the merged schools’ buildings.

“MOE will work together with the affected schools to ensure a smooth transition to the merged school for staff and students, and in the process, forge a strong identity for the merged school,” it said.

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