Peh criticises fee increases by independent schools
The Straits Times
| Nov 5, 1989
By: Mardiana Abu Bakar
A MEMBER of Parliament
has criticised the fee increase by independent schools.
Mr Peh Chin Hua, MP for Jalan Besar GRC, calling the new rates a
"heavy burden on poor families", appealed to a new generation
of Tan Kah Kees and Lee Kong Chians to come forward and take on
the financial load that would otherwise end up in the form of higher
The Ministry of Education and independent schools have given a reassurance
that children of less well-off families will be given financial
assistance. But Mr Peh said that the higher fees would "affect
the future decision of children from these families from opting
to study in independent schools".
Speaking at a Geylang West Community Centre kindergarten function
yesterday, Mr Peh praised the philanthropists of the past who made
massive contributions to educational institutions.
The late Mr Tan Kah Kee and Mr Lee Kong Chian have won "much
respect and admiration from us". More of them are now needed,
instead of having "school management personnel" advocating
fee increases whenever there are insufficient funds, he said.
Mr Peh said that besides grants from the government, more generous
support and financial aid should also be obtained from other school
He added: "If the School Advisory Committees and School Management
Committees are unable to play this philanthropic role in our education
system, then these schools would have lost the meaning of independence."
If the trend of fee increases is left unchecked, then independent
schools may become "private upper-class schools" in the
long run, Mr Peh warned.
Details of the independent schools' fee increase, which will come
into effect next year, were announced by the Education Ministry
Anglo-Chinese School, Chinese High and Raffles Institution - which
will go independent next year - will charge students $100 per month,
while students from Methodist Girls' School, Singapore Chinese Girls'
School and St Joseph's Institution will pay $50 a month.
At present, students at the five independent schools pay $25 a month.
In his speech yesterday, Mr Peh said that the various reasons given
for increases in fees "are too weak and difficult to accept".
Referring to the various financial schemes available to poor students,
he said: "If we think that the various financial assistance
schemes could erase the fears and worries of the lower income families,
then we are deceiving ourselves indeed."
He said that he understood the concern of the many parents in Geylang
West, who had average household monthly incomes ranging from about
$597 to $1,238.
Mr Peh then urged the independent schools to reconsider some adjustments
to their fees, "such as $50 across the board for all schools"
instead of different rates for different schools.
He advised well-established schools like Raffles Girls', Crescent
Girls' and River Valley High to obtain financial support from some
educational philanthropists before even considering converting to