Independent schools give assurance in joint statement
The Straits Times | Nov 21, 1989

THE five independent schools and Raffles Institution - which will become independent in January - issued a joint statement yesterday assuring parents that ability to pay will not be the criterion for admission of pupils.

Although the schools have earlier given similar assurances, this is the first time they have issued a joint statement which comes in the wake of comments from politicians and the public on the higher fees.

For instance, Mr Peh Chin Hua, MP for Jalan Besar GRC, called the new rates a "heavy burden on poor families". First Deputy Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong had, on the other hand, given the assurance that the Government will ensure that no child will be denied a place in an independent school just because he cannot afford the fees.

From next year, Anglo-Chinese School, Chinese High and Raffles Institution, will charge students $100 per month, while the new monthly fees for Methodist Girls' School, Singapore Chinese Girls' School and St Joseph's Institution will be $50.

For RI, the new fee next year will apply only to Secondary 1 pupils. Currently, students at the five independent schools pay $25 a month while students at RI pay $10.50 a month.

In the joint statement, the six principals encouraged "able students, regardless of their financial circumstances, to apply for admission to our schools". Students with financial difficulties are advised to contact the principals of these schools as soon as possible, it said.

The principals also stressed that the Government has set up a Financial Assistance Scheme to help needy students who require financial help to pay the fees. The schools have also set up scholarship funds which can provide extra help.

If pupils need further help, independent school students can, like any other secondary school students, apply for the Ministry of Education's other schemes which provide bursaries and free textbooks.

The six principals reiterated that their schools have a tradition of accepting students from all strata of society. "We intend to preserve this tradition and to continue with our policy of admitting students on the basis of academic merit," they added.

On the fee increase, they said that "the only consideration that guided us in our decision to raise school fees was to provide quality education to all pupils in our schools".

Besides school fees, another source of finance for the independent schools is the capitation grant from the Ministry of Education.

At present, the capitation grant independent schools receive is $2,800 per student per year. This is calculated on the Government's annual cost of educating a secondary student in a government or government-aided school, a figure which varies from year to year.

The statement said: "The additional educational programmes that we intend to implement will incur additional costs which have to be met. It is our responsibility to raise the additional funds that we need.

"While we can finance part of the additional costs through donations, it is inevitable that part of the costs will have to be funded through higher school fees."