SINGAPORE – Welcoming the introduction of through train programmes in Catholic schools, the Archdiocesan Commission of Catholic Schools (ACCS) said Catholic parents and students would have more reason to remain in a Catholic school.
ACCS’ response came after the Ministry of Education’s (MOE) announcement on Sep 1 that the Integrated Programme (IP) would be extended to seven schools including Catholic High School, CHIJ St. Nicholas Girls’ School and St. Joseph’s Institution (SJI).
Students in Catholic High School and CHIJ St. Nicholas Girls School’s Integrated Programme will skip the GCE ‘O’ Levels and proceed to the GCE ‘A’ Levels, while students in SJI’s Integrated Programme will sit for International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma after the six-year programme.
According to MOE, the Integrated Programme was implemented to provide clearly university bound students with a broader educational experience by allowing students in their last four years of their upper secondary and college education to engage in broader learning experiences through academic and non-academic curricula. However, schools will have school-based assessments to chart the students’ progress. Schools may admit students in Secondary Three.
Nine schools currently run the through-train programmes.
Catholic High School and CHIJ St. Nicholas Girls School will offer the Integrated Programme to Secondary One students from 2013. Both schools will continue to offer English and Mandarin at a first language level and the express stream. Students will progress to an unnamed government junior college in 2017 along with students in the Integrated Programme offered in Singapore Chinese Girls School.
SJI will offer the Integrated Programme from 2013, though it hopes to introduce it as early as 2012. Students will remain in the school throughout the six years.
These schools will continue to offer the GCE ‘O’ Level Examinations to allow students to make lateral transfers to the education pathway which best suits their needs.
Hailing the MOE’s decision as a good development, ACCS said that the sponsoring authorities and school management committees in consultation with Archbishop Nicholas Chia had accepted the invitation to run the programme in the Catholic schools.
ACCS also said that with the introduction of the Integrated Programme in Catholic High School and CHIJ St. Nicholas Girls School, parents and students “will have more options and less reason to leave their Catholic school”.
The introduction of the Integrated Programme has led many Catholic parents to send their children to the schools offering the programme, ACCS said, thus “some top Catholic students have not come to the Catholic school system and some of our top students of our Catholic schools have actually left at Secondary Two”.
ACCS said that the implementation of the IP in the three Catholic schools would not impact parents who want to send their children to other Catholic schools, as all other schools and their admission policies remain the same.
It added: “ACCS is very supportive of Catholic High School and CHIJ St. Nicholas Girls School in their transition to the IP and will give them every assistance in whatever areas needed and in particular in their nurturing of a Catholic ethos and for implementing the Moral and Religious Education curriculum.”
Asked whether it hoped to see a Catholic ethos for the forthcoming college for students of Catholic High School and CHIJ St. Nicholas Girls School, ACCS said that at present, Catholic students can choose from either Catholic Junior College or other colleges to suit their location and other preferences, and this will continue to be so.
“These students should receive a strong Catholic school education and with that foundation they should be able to benefit from their junior college education with additional effort being made by the parishes to support young people in their faith formation,” ACCS said.
School Supervisor for Catholic High School, Father Henry Siew, told CatholicNews that the School Management Committee was elated that the school had been selected to run the Integrated Programme.
Father Siew said: “It will enable us to retain some of the academically good students who desire the programme, among them Catholic students.”
While the Integrated Programme will provide more room for the school to develop a self-directed and personalised education culture to allow students opportunities for non-academic pursuits, Father Siew said that the school would continue to emphasise the students’ moral and character growth.
“The Catholic ethos will be maintained and Catholic students and other students who are opened to Catholic spirituality will have their faith nurtured,” he said.
Father Siew added: “It is our hope that students and parents of Catholic High School, especially Catholic, will choose to stay with us for the Integrated Programme.”
By Darren Boon