Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Got Primary One Registration Priority? Think Again!

On the surface, citizens can rejoice, pop champagne or a non-alcoholic drink and thank Ganesha, Allah, Jesus, Guanyin, Buddha or Monkey God that citizens finally, finally have a proper head start in education over foreigners. A few days ago, MOE announced that Singaporeans have a priority over PRs in primary one registration. Whenever there is balloting, which is confirmed 100% in popular or branded schools like Nanyang, ACS, Tao Nan and some elitist others, PRs would not stand a chance unless there is no ballot required.

Happy? KNS. YOU SHOULDN"T BE IF YOU ARE A 100% LOCAL. Why? This is because MOE just said that citizens should be given absolute priority in each phase. Not absolute priority in primary one registration. There is an important difference!

There are 3 main phases in the annual primary one registration.
  • Phase 1 - for a child who has a sibling in the primary school
  • Phase 2 -  2A1, for a child whose parent is a former student of the primary school and is an alumni member, 2A2, the same, but the parent is not an alumni member, 2B is when the parent is from the same clan or church related to the school or a parent volunteer, 2C is for the child who cannot qualify for Phase 1, 2A and 2B.
  • Phase 3 - for non-citizens and non-PR.

What MOE is telling you is that PR can still qualify for each phase as long as there is no balloting in that phase. So that means a Tiong or Pinoy PR can still qualify and be ahead of other Singaporeans in a later phase e.g. a PR who is a parent volunteer in branded school X (qualify for phase 2B) is still ahead of a local parent who stays near the branded school X but did not volunteer in the school (qualify for phase 2C) in the primary one registration.  Is this fair to Singaporeans? Not really if we value citizenship, the responsibility of NS etc. Volunteering in a school, alumni, church-clan ties in primary school registration are perfectly fine and is a useful checklist to distinguish locals from locals, and their desperation however misguided to put their kid in a branded school. However, as PRs do not wish to commit their stake in Singapore, why should they have the same access to branded schools as Singaporeans? Why should they have the same privileges as citizens?

PRs should be restricted to Phase 3 registration only, and not anything earlier. PRs can enrol their kids into a primary school only when all the citizens who want to put their son or daughter in that school have done so under Phase 1 or Phase 2. Any remaining seats can then be given to PRs. That is what priority is about. Simple as that. This recent MOE pledge to keep Singaporeans happy and give citizenship a premium is just hollow.

Fewer PR children in top schools after P1 rule change?
By Sharon See | Posted: 26 March 2012 2141 hrs
SINGAPORE: The more popular primary schools may have fewer Permanent Resident (PR) children from now on, said observers.

They said this is one possible outcome, following the government's move to tighten the Primary One (P1) registration exercise.

Under the change announced on Sunday, PRs will remain eligible for the same phases of the P1 registration exercise as citizens. However, when balloting is necessary in a specific phase of the registration exercise, citizens will be given absolute priority over PRs, even before home-to-school distance is considered.

The change will take place from the P1 registration exercise this July.

Last year, nearly half of all primary schools held ballots for the P1 registration exercise.

With the latest change, some popular schools told Channel NewsAsia they are expecting a much smaller intake of PR children.

Competition for the popular schools is already fierce, even among Singaporeans, and one MP said it would make sense for PRs to avoid "brand name schools" - where balloting will most likely take place.

Mr Lim Biow Chuan, chairman of Government Parliamentary Committee (GPC) for Education, said: "If they think that they want their child to go to a certain school, they have to consider whether that school would require balloting or not. If it does, quite honestly, they should put their efforts in volunteering in a school where balloting may not take place."

Property analysts also expect a slowdown in PRs going after HDB resale flats near popular schools.

Mr Eugene Lim, ERA Realty Network's key executive officer, said: "The premium that buyers have been known to pay for being located near good schools is as much as 10, sometimes even 15 per cent.

"So, if there are less buyers competing for these units near these good schools, technically the premium would go down. But it's still early days. It's very hard to say at this point if the prices will be affected, because for the gap that is vacated by the PRs, the locals will come in and fill it, as locals still have to compete for the 1km rule if there are more locals applying for the limited places available in each school."

Mr Lim added that buying a residential property with the intention of being near "good schools" is more prevalent among Singaporeans than PRs. He said HDB flats near "good schools" would likely be in greater demand than private properties.

According to Mr Lim, PRs currently make up about 20 percent of the HDB resale market and 13 percent of the private property resale market.


  1. Hey Bob,

    You are right. On second reading non-citizens can indeed get in through these loopholes in Phase 1 to 2B - if there are no balloting. But the largest hole in 2C is plugged at least.

    Furthermore from my understanding there is also a quota limit on 2B as clan/church/parent volunteer. So it is actually a hole half plugged than half-unplugged?

    Keep it up. I enjoy your articles.

  2. Thanks! Yah, got quota. After Phase 1, the remaining seats are divided equally for 2B and for 2C from what I read.

    Unfortunately, most people still don't realise that this Singaporean First promise is as bullshit as the Singaporeans Get Two Ballot Chances promise. What is in between the lines is not read.

  3. I believe that there are only very few PRs in phase 2A, so whether it is reserved to Singaporeans or not would not make any difference in almost all cases.

    For phase 1, PR need an older sibling already in the school. That older sibling would need to have got in the school earlier at phase 2B or 2C, something that is now more or less impossible for the "branded schools" (they usually have balloting at both phases). So the result is that for these very popular schools, the number of PR entering at phase 1 will go down over the next few years and then become negligible (on most years probably zero). You just need a bit of patience and you will soon end-up with branded schools that are "Singaporean only"...