Academic journal article Education

Factors Affecting School Relocation in Singapore: The Past and the Present

Academic journal article Education

Factors Affecting School Relocation in Singapore: The Past and the Present

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

School relocation is a sub-topic under school-location planning, which is also called school mapping. School mapping is a set of techniques and procedures used to plan the demand for school places at the local level and to decide on the location of future schools and the means to be allocated at the institutional level (Caillods, 1999).

There are many factors affecting a school to be relocated. Ho (1995) wrote about relocation of secondary schools in Hong Kong several years before and after 1990. Relocation of schools at that stage was a result of urban planning and demographic change due to the rapid growth of urban centers and other geographical factors. On the broader perspective, this kind of change is man-made and planned. The authors believe that in most developed countries, relocation of schools are mainly under the charge of an administrative body such as the Ministry of Education of the country. The instruction and plan to relocate a school, therefore also comes from this governing body. In the case of private schools, there are different rules governing the decision and process of relocation.

In the late 19th century, most schools in Singapore were privately owned. Relocation of these schools was therefore a private issue, and mainly due to insufficient space, or that a new school was badly needed. In this situation, the owner of the private school would apply for the school to be government aided in order to have enough funding to build a new school, usually resulting in relocation. The government would usually offer a new site, and thus the school was relocated. This was the common way to relocate a school in the old days, from the 1880s until Singapore's independence in 1965. There was no case of overall planning to relocate all the schools requiring a new space and environment in those days. Most school relocations could be considered as the result of pull and push factors and arose in a piecemeal manner.

However, there were some programs and good activities associated with upgrading of schools in the three decades after 1960 (Powell, 2001). The Ministry of Education has been the body in charge of schools in Singapore since independence. The process to relocate a school is very different from the olden days.

Geographically, the relocation of schools, similar to the relocation of business, would follow the theory of relocation of cities in some ways. Decline in school going age population would force a school to close down or to relocate (Flemming, 1980). On the contrary, increase of young population such as the growth of a new town, would generate new schools. Some of these new schools could also be the old ones being relocated.

A new factor has recently affected the relocation of some schools in Singapore, particularly since 1999. This was the plan to provide information technology infrastructure to schools. It has never occurred before anywhere in this world that perfect planning was the reason to rebuild, expand and relocate schools in order to provide up-to-date information technology infrastructure for teaching and learning. The results of the effect of such a planned relocation could be seen several years down the road. If this plan proves successful, it could add new knowledge leading to the future planning of school relocation for a specific purpose.

2. Brief history of the relocation of schools in Singapore

Relocation is not the main agenda in administering education in the State in any period of time. Historical records of some

schools show evidence that relocation took place for several reasons: school expansion, increase in student number, forced out of urban development, lack of facilities e.g. building/classroom, congestion, noise in the vicinity, unsafe building, and government grant of new site for relocation.

In the brief history of educational development in Singapore, many policies were implemented, many issues resolved and many problems remain unresolved even after the Republic gained its independence in 1965. …

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