Students play in the present Canossa Convent Primary School at Sallim Road. Photo provided by Canossa Convent Primary School

SINGAPORE – The Ministry of Education (MOE) has announced on Jul 3 that Canossa Convent Primary School and De Le Salle School have been selected for upgrading works from 2011 to 2013 under the eleventh phase of the Programme for Rebuilding and Improving Existing Schools (PRIME).

According to MOE, the completion of the upgrading works will allow the schools to transit to a single-session.

MOE also states that PRIME aims to provide schools with up-to-date facilities to improve the learning environment of students. Schools will receive new or upgraded facilities including media resource libraries, IT-learning resource rooms and pastoral care rooms and the provision of an indoor sports hall.

Canossa Convent Primary School principal Christina Teo told CatholicNews that she is happy that the school has been selected for PRIME which will allow it to be “better placed in delivering a holistic curriculum with a strong focus on character development”.

“Our prayers and searching as to how to provide a better education in line with our foundress St. Magdalene’s belief in the benefits of education have certainly been answered,” she said.

Ms Teo welcomes the additional classroom space which would allow the school to enhance its curriculum – allowing for more drama lessons to be incorporated within the classroom instead of heading to the theatrette; or teaching students to prepare simple meals as part of Health Education and Life-skills lessons with a kitchenette-equipped room. An indoor sports hall will allow students to engage in more games during recess.

Canossa Convent will also benefit from going to a single session which reduces job duplication of staff from a two-session school. The school can offer enrichment programmes for students after classroom hours and expand the ‘Homework Club’ initiative where volunteer parents supervise and help the morning session children complete the homework before they go home. This sees the children gaining more family time.

Ms Teo admits that the “thought of packing, moving and unpacking” can be daunting, but feels the benefits of PRIME is worth the hassle. With the holding school’s larger premises, she hopes that Canossa Convent will be able to function as a single-session by then.

Bird’s eye view of the present De La Salle School at Choa Chu Kang Street 52. Photo provided by De La Salle School

During the upgrading works, Canossa Convent Primary will temporarily relocate to the former Macpherson Secondary site at Circuit Road from January 2012 to December 2013. De La Salle School will temporarily relocate to the former Teck Whye Primary/Secondary site at Jalan Teck Whye from January 2011 to December 2012.

Over at De La Salle School, parents, Lasallians and staff are ecstatic over the news of the PRIME upgrading, according to Bernadette Lim, the school principal.

Currently, due to the challenges posed by physical constraints the school has been using studios from the community centre across the road for dance practices.

With the latest building specifications, additional and larger classrooms will enable the school to implement a single session without compromising enrolment or programmes. The provision of an indoor sports hall is an added bonus for the sports and co-curricular programme. Overall, the added space will allow the school more scope to run programmes and initiatives that will further enhance the holistic development of Lasallians.

Over the past week, Ms Lim has met parents in dialogue sessions to listen to their concerns and feedback over the impending move. “We assure them that the quality of school programmes will not be compromised, the children’s safety and security will not be compromised,” she said.

Ms Lim is also exploring various possibilities to minimise the inconveniences brought about by the school’s relocation. According to Ms Lim, 60 to 70 percent of the children walk to school. Relocating to the holding site would require them to take two bus services. She is now exploring with the school bus operators the feasibility of running a shuttle bus service to and from the existing site to the holding site.

By Darren Boon

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