PARENTS ANGRY WITH MOE OVER NEW JC BUILDING FOR STUDENTS

Parents of students from Catholic High, CHIJ St Nicholas Girls' and Singapore Chinese Girls' schools have become frustrated with the Ministry of Education's (MOE) inability to confirm a simple matter, like where the new interim school building for their junior college will be built.

According to parents, they were first informed that their children would attend their junior college at a site in Bishan. Then they were suddenly informed that their children would be housed at Mount Sinai. After angry parents caused a ruckus during MOE's dialogue to inform parents of the move to Mt Sinai, MOE backed down and informed parents that their children might attend school at Bishan, again.

The MOE confirmed the shift back to Bishan last night in a dialogue with more than 300 affected parents and students, who were visibly angered by the flip flopping.

During the dialogue, some parents pointed out that the former Raffles Junior College campus at Mount Sinai was too far away, as compared to the Bishan site. The parents became agitated when MOE offered to provide bus services or push back the start of the school day.

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Sensing the public anger, MOE backed down on its decision to move the site to Mt Sinai.

"Hence, we are reviewing options for holding sites that we had previously considered, that are closer to the Bishan area (including the former ITE Ang Mo Kio)." MOE added that it will update the parents again some weeks later.

The new JC was set up to take in Integrated Programme (IP) students graduating from Catholic High, CHIJ St Nicholas Girls and Singapore Chinese Girls schools. It will start its pioneer intake of students in 2017.

Originally, students were told that they would be studying in a holding site in Bishan Street 14 for 1 and a half years before moving to their permanent campus at Sin Ming Avenue in mid-2018. However, that project has been delayed and parents were told that the new Sin Ming building would only be ready by end 2019. To make matters worse, the Bishan site was "no longer available" because the current occupiers of the site, St Joseph's Institution, would not be able to move out in time as it was also facing delays in its Malcolm Road campus.

Parents who spoke to MOE and the press urged MOE to finish the new JC on time, or look for an alternative site to build it. MOE has maintained that if there are any changes to the current plans, the new JC building would be finished even later than 2019.

MOE says that the campus building was delayed because of the Cross Island MRT Line, which would run beneath the school.

When some parents asked whether MOE would allow their children to transfer to other JCs offering the IP, MOE replied that such transfer would depend on available vacancies in those other JCs. Angry parents pointed out that since MOE has failed to build a new school for their children, MOE should be responsible for guaranteeing their children a place in these other JCs.

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