Fund cuts raise fee hike fears
SOME think it will be business as usual, but others worry that independent schools will have to cut back on some programmes and even contemplate raising fees.
Reports about funding cuts for several such schools drew mixed reactions yesterday.
Four independent schools had their funding cut while six schools saw an increase in funding this year compared to last year.
Schools such as the Raffles secondary schools and its junior college, Hwa Chong Institution (HCI), Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) and NUS High School of Mathematics and Science are said to be among those affected by the changes.
MyPaper understands that the principals of various schools were called for a discussion in September and that funding changes have been in the pipeline for months.
When contacted by MyPaper, former Raffles Girls' School principal Carmee Lim, 74, said that she was "disappointed" at the news.
"I feel that if the Government thinks that education is important, they should maintain the funding for top schools, and, at the same time, increase funding for neighbourhood schools," she said.
"It's definitely a big blow to the school because it has to relook the budget and programmes. I'm unsure of the rationale behind it."
Meanwhile, MP Teo Ser Luck, who is Minister of State at the Ministry of Trade and Industry, hailed the move as one "made with a good intention", but raised concerns over how it might affect school fees.
"My main concern is will school fees at these independent schools be raised and affect low-income students, and are they going to be helped?" he asked.
Former Raffles Institution principal Eugene Wijeysingha, 80, said: "The Government should give schools their resources, but ask them to account for these resources and have some form of audit. If they are not achieving, then there is justification in reducing resources."
On the other hand, others see it as a good opportunity for neighbourhood schools - seen as less "branded" - to level up.
Mrs Lim Lay Ngoh, an alumna of Nanyang Girls' High School, which offers the IP Programme in partnership with HCI, noted that the changes "should be easy to adapt to" and are "not critical".
The 65-year-old retiree, who is a Nanyang Schools Alumni Association committee member, said: "Of course, we will be affected, but we have always been careful with the spending, so it's not a big impact."
Lawyer Robson Lee, 46, HCI's board executive committee member, said: "The Government may have to divert resources to help neighbourhood schools build up their capacity and infrastructure, and we should support that."
MP Baey Yam Keng, who sits on the Government Parliamentary Committee for Education, added that the move does not necessarily mean a reduced money pot for schools here.
Instead, more funds could go to other schools and benefit students there.