Adopt changes at a moderate pace, MP tells independent schools
 
The Straits Times | Nov 18, 1989
By: Sharon Vasoo


 

INDEPENDENT schools should not be too ambitious and should be moderate in their development plans, said Mr Chew Heng Ching, MP for Eunos GRC, yesterday.

Mr Chew - who is the fourth MP to criticise the recent fees increase announcement - said that the ndependent schools, in trying to compete among themselves for the best teachers and teaching facilities, had set themselves too high an ambition.

He said: "The proposed increases seem to point to one direction. Independent schools have set too high an ambition, competing among themselves to attract the best teachers and investing in the best teaching facilities. All these mean higher costs and hence higher school fees."

Mr Chew questioned if the independent schools were progressing too fast and asked if there was really a need for them to be so ambitious. He urged them to develop at a "more moderate pace", and to ensure that the
school fees charged remained affordable to pupils from average-income families.

Expressing doubts over the the number of bursaries which independent schools could offer, Mr Chew said: "How many bursaries could a school offer? What is the end result? "Independent schools will become 'rich man' schools. If this happens, it will defeat the Government's objective of setting up independent schools," he
added.

The first person to take up the cudgel was Mr Peh Chin Hua, MP for Jalan Besar GRC, when he said earlier this month that the fees increase would pose a burden to parents of children from average and poor families.
He was then joined by Dr Ow Chin Hock, MP for Leng Kee, who said last Saturday that the increases were way out of proportion in comparison to those of tertiary institutions.

They were joined in criticism by Mrs Yu-Foo Yee Shoon, MP for Yuhua, who said on Wednesday that it was unfair for the Government to give higher subsidies to independent schools.

So far, the only MP who has spoken in favour of the fees increase is Mr Chng Hee Kok, MP for Tiong Bahru GRC, who said that if the independent school concept was to be successful, then the public should accept the need to allow the schools autonomy and should therefore support the fees increase.

The new fees, which will come into effect next year, will see Anglo-Chinese School, Chinese High and Raffles Institution charging students $100 a month, while the new monthly fees for Methodist Girls' School, Singapore Chinese Girls' School and St Joseph's Institution will be $50.

Students at the present five independent schools now pay $25 a month.

Those at Raffles Institution, which goes independent in January, pay $10.50.