Singapore schools to be merged
Students leave for classes after their recess at a secondary school in Singapore. Reuters (Representational Image)

The Ministry of Education (MOE) announced on Thursday that 14 primary schools and six secondary schools in Singapore will merge in 2019, due to smaller cohort sizes and changing demographics across housing estates.

At a briefing, the ministry said the changing demographics have resulted in an uneven distribution of students across primary and secondary schools. MOE added that the demand for Primary 1 places in mature estates has fallen and this has resulted in surplus places and low enrolment in some schools.

However, new schools may need to be built to accommodate a higher demand for school places at young estates.

The list of primary schools being merged in 2019 is the following:

  • East View and Junyuan Primary, to be located on the site of Junyuan Primary.
  • Balestier Hill and Bendemeer Primary, to be located on the site of Bendemeer Primary.
  • Da Qiao and Jing Shan Primary, to be located on the site of Jing Shan Primary.
  • Damai and East Coast Primary, to be located on the site of Damai Primary.
  • Coral and White Sands Primary, to be located on the site of White Sands Primary.
  • Casuarina and Loyang Primary, to be located on the site of Casuarina Primary.
  • Cedar and MacPherson Primary, to be located on the site of Cedar Primary.

MOE said a new primary school in Sengkang, Fern Green Primary, will begin operations in 2018 to meet the high demand for school places in the estate.

The list of secondary schools to be merged in 2019 is the following:

  • Yuhua and Shuqun Secondary, to be located on the site of Yuhua Secondary.
  • East Spring and East View Secondary, to be located on the site of East Spring Secondary.
  • Hong Kah and Jurongville Secondary, to be located on the site of Jurongville Secondary.

Meanwhile, eight junior colleges will also be merged for the first time in Singapore. This move is the largest school merging exercise in the past decade.

When asked about the benefits of the merger for students, the Education Ministry told Channel NewsAsia that the schools need a "critical mass" of students in order to run programmes that can meet students' interests and needs.

It added that in smaller schools, the range of educational programmes and co-curricular activities (CCAs) may be limited. For example, Siglap Secondary was unable to continue with its Red Cross unit and badminton CCA.

According to the authorities, the number of subject combinations at the upper secondary level may also be limited as there are too few classes in secondary schools.

MOE said the students in merged schools will get a good spread of enrichment programmes, and the possibility of more subject combinations and CCA options. It said after Si Ling Secondary merged with Marsiling Secondary, students benefited from one new Learning for Life Programme in outdoor education, and one new Applied Learning Programme in environmental education. There were also two new CCAs.

The ministry further said that the merging of schools is not new. In 2015, three pairs of primary schools were merged, while, four pairs of secondary schools were merged last year. Another 11 pairs of secondary schools will be merged this year and next year.