Fees won't force out any child
The Straits Times
| Nov 6, 1989
By: Koh Buck Song
1DPM reassures parents on independent schools'
THE Government will ensure that no child
will be denied a place in an independent school just because he
cannot afford the fees, Mr Goh Chok Tong reiterated yesterday.
Asked to comment on last Thursday's announcement of the fee increases
in independent schools from next year the First Deputy Prime Minister
said needy students could apply for bursaries, textbook loans and
other financial assistance schemes presently offered by independent
Mr Goh said that even if they failed to secure such help, they could
turn to foundations outside the schools. He said the People's Action
Party's Community Foundation, which he chairs, had set aside several
hundred thousand dollars for this purpose, and students were welcome
to apply for financial aid.
Mr Goh, who is also Defence Minister, was speaking to reporters
after marking the Tree Planting Day at his Marine Parade constituency.
Although the Government has given many similar assurances in the
past, last week's fee hike announcement has stirred some misgivings
From January next year Anglo-Chinese School, Chinese High School
and Raffles Institution will charge their students $100 a month,
while Methodist Girls' School, Singapore Chinese Girls' School and
St Joseph's Institution will
Students at the present five independent schools now pay $25 a month,
while RI, which will become independent next year, still charges
the government-school rate of $10.50 a month.
The fee increases came in for some sharp criticism from Mr Peh Chin
Hua, an MP for Jalan Besar GRC, who said on Saturday that they imposed
a heavy burden on poor families.
Mr Peh also called on a new generation of philanthropists to offer
financial aid to needy students.
Mr Goh told reporters that independent schools had to balance the
aim of providing the best education for their students and ensuring
that needy students would not be denied places.
He stressed that schools themselves, which were familiar with their
students' profile and ability to pay, were in the best position
to decide on this balance and the level of fees.
Once autonomy had been given to these schools, they were responsible
for setting the "appropriate" level of fees.
However, schools must also be mindful of their students' financial
burden, he added.
"I would be very disappointed if schools began to choose students
on the basis of whether they could afford to pay fees," he
"If that happened, I would ask the Ministry of Education to
exercise moral influence on the schools to get them to select students
based on academic performance."
Mr Goh said that in selecting their students, independent schools
should aim for a range of go od students reflecting a cross-section
This would not be achieved if ability to pay became a criterion
He added that the trend towards greater decentralisation of school
management would continue, and more schools would go independent,
including, possibly, junior colleges.
But he reiterated that a good principal was the key factor in a
school's success and so the Government would watch the progress
of independent schools before extending greater autonomy to government-school
This step, which would be taken "cautiously", would give
principals more freedom to decide on matters affecting their schools.
He also suggested that independent schools could serve as a model
for other schools to improve the quality of education.
Their "formula for success" should be studied by the Education
Ministry and all government schools, which should then adopt these
"techniques" to improve educational services without increasing
In this way, government schools would benefit from the experience
of independent schools, he said.