Victoria’s future up in the air as other schools make their move

TO HIM, the issue is not about whether Victoria School (VS) goes co-ed. Member of Parliament Teo Ser Luck says the question is whether his alma mater sees education as being about “more than just ranking”.

It is one of several questions for which the school and its old boys are finding there are no easy answers.

Three years after VS decided to remain an all-boys school (for 132 years now) discussions about its future have resurfaced with the big question now whether to merge with affiliated Victoria Junior College.

Today understands that principals of both schools and alumni from the Old Victorians’ Association (OVA) met last Thursday for a dialogue on future plans.

This, at a time when big-name schools have been making big moves. Hwa Chong Institution will award its own diploma to students from this year. Raffles Junior College will do the same, while its management board and that of Raffles Institution will become one.

MP Dr Ong Chit Chung, the chairman of the Victoria Executive and Advisory Committee — the school’s board — did not respond to queries. But his parliamentary colleague and OVA president, Mr Teo, said that any decision would have to take into consideration the views of students and teachers of both schools, parents and alumni.

“Any decision will need proper support from all stakeholders,” said Mr Teo, who is also the Parliamentary Secretary for Community Development, Youth and Sports.

“The key thing is to look objectively at what is the best way to take us forward.”

When approached by Today, both schools issued a joint statement to say “the consultation process is still ongoing”.

Several options are being explored, they said. For example, the schools could merge but offer different programmes for students, including a six-year Integrated Programme, the O and A Level programmes.

VJC principal Chan Poh Meng was also reported to have said in January that one possibility was for both schools to continue operating independently and to remain affiliated. The junior college could then start its own co-ed programme from Secondary 1. VJC currently admits Secondary 3 students for its four-year Integrated Programme.

Talk of a merger between both schools went public in August 2005. And when a proposal was floated then that VS could turn co-ed to become the main feeder school for VJC, it was met with uproar among old boys. Today tried contacting six other members

sitting on the school’s 18-member board for this story, but could not get any response.

Among some old boys, the possibility that VS could go co-ed still does not sit well. Cheong Cheng Swee, 73, who graduated in 1954, said the school’s track record has proven that there is no need to turn co-ed to raise the quality of the intake – the reason offered for co-ed plans initially.

Jenny Lin, 26, a VJC graduate, also sided with the boys. “Being an all-boys institution for all this while, they must have a strong emotional attachment to the tradition,” she said.

According to the schools’ joint statement, a proposal would be submitted to the Education Ministry when a decision has been made. It added that both schools and all stakeholders are “committed to work together in offering the best possible education opportunities for (its) students”.


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