MORE public buildings and land will be released by the Government for up to three more foreign schools to meet the schooling needs of the growing expatriate community.
At full capacity, the three schools can take in between 4,500 and 7,500 students.
Currently, there are 94,000 international students enrolled in government and private schools here.
The new foreign schools can occupy the former Chong Boon Primary School in Ang Mo Kio Street 44, the former Nan Chiau High School in Kim Yam Road and three empty sites in Bukit Batok Road, Punggol Field Walk and Yishun Avenue 1.
The first can open as early as 2013 and the other two within the next five years after that, to add to the 41 international schools operating here already.
This is the second time that the Government has released vacant land and properties to meet the schooling needs of the growing expatriate community.
In 2008, the Economic Development Board (EDB) announced that seven sites would be made available for up to four international schools to ease the supply crunch situation at that time.
Many international schools then were full, and the popular ones had long waiting lists. The shortage of places was so dire that it was a stumbling block for companies looking to bring in expatriate employees and their families.
When contacted, Member of Parliament Josephine Teo, the chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Education, estimated that the three schools, if constructed, will ease the supply crunch – for now.
However, it remains to be seen if they would be sufficient in the long run as Singapore positions to be an attractive Asian hub for global talent, she told The Straits Times.
‘It will be a matter of time before the additional places may not be enough and we will need to review the situation,’ she said.
When asked if the expatriate community should consider Singapore schools for their children, Mrs Teo said there is already a growing number of foreigners who send their children to schools here to immerse them in a Mandarin-speaking environment.
However, expatriates may still prefer to send their children to international schools, she said.
Typically, most stay here for a few years before going back to their countries and prefer to send their children to international schools which they are more familiar with and can get used to quickly, Mrs Teo added.
The supply crunch had eased considerably since last year when a new international school Stamford American International School was set up. Older schools such as the United World College of South East Asia and the Australian International School Singapore have also expanded their premises.
The EDB’s executive director of human capital and professional services Toh Wee Khiang said that demand for places in international schools held strong last year despite the recession, and is expected to grow as the economy bounces back.
The EDB received more than 20 proposals in 2008 and Mr Toh expects the response from interested schools this time round to be ‘comparable’.
He said proposals would be assessed on factors such as quality of education programmes, track record, and investment commitments.
The EDB may make available other plots of land for international schools in the future based on strength of demand, he added.
Source: Straits Times, 29 Mar 2010