Instead of closing schools repurpose them as boarding schools
The Ministry of Education in Singapore recently announced that they would be closing several junior colleges and transferring their student body to other JC’s. This comes as no surprise as the number of kids in Singapore plummets due to a combination of low birth rates and lower immigration. This means that under the current education system closing these schools down is the only justifiable move but that doesn’t reduce the loss as a teacher in one of these schools explains:
“It is a real pity. All the hard work and years spent building up the school culture will now go down the drain,” he said. “The school community has grown to be like a family. It won’t be the same working at another school.”
It might seem like it’s impossible to preserve this nostalgia without spending taxpayer money and that the only accessible choices are to close them down or keep them open but there is a third choice: expand the number of students allowed to enter Singapore’s school system by creating a boarding system. Singapore’s education system is known worldwide for its quality but the only schools that currently allow boarding are either elite private schools such as UWCSEA or elite government schools such as Raffles. These schools are only accessible by those possessing some measure of talent such as in the case of Raffles and have exorbitant fees.
UWC for example charges around $45,000 for tuition and another $35,000 for boarding to create a total price of $80,000 a year, which is out of reach for all but the exceedingly wealthy. A government Junior College, on the other hand, has an average spending per pupil of $16,000 and boarding could be easily priced at around $12,000* a year. A $10,000 levy could be further added onto this fee to fund educational support programs for low-income Singaporeans to ensure that all Singapore benefit from their presence.
The main challenge that this idea faces is the lack of housing for these foreign students to stay in which can be overcome by the construction of facilities on-campus such as those constructed in the UWCSEA east campus but to a less additional standard while meals can foreign from school canteens. Foreign students would be kept under curfew during weekdays via a biometric system similar to those used in UWC that uses thumbprints to log student in and out. Before admission students would have to undergo an English test and if they wish to learn a language not commonly taught in Singapore they would have to do it remotely at their own expense. This ensures that almost no additional expenditure is required for foreign students.
The Boarding students who score above a certain grade could be put into a fast-track residency system giving them the ability to reside in Singapore as long as they agree to complete NS, this creates a group of immigrants who will do NS and be familiar with Singapore culture reducing the number of problems associated with their presence while solving our labour shortage and population problems while reducing the resentment felt toward immigrants.
Turning closing schools into boarding schools can preserve a school’s culture, provide extra educational funding and help solve our labour shortage issue without causing resentment. It can also help Singapore’s reputation as a global city, as the graduates from these schools returning home can spread the message that Singapore is a good place to invest, visit or immigrate. There is little harm from turning them into boarding schools as long as accommodations for these students are appropriate.
what do you think?
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