By Joyce Gan


SINGAPORE – CHIJ Katong Primary staff and students bade farewell to their Martia Road school on Nov 17. After Mass celebrated by Father Edmund Chong (photo), they boarded school buses for a familiarization visit to their new holding school at Bedok North Road, which Father Edmund blessed. They were pleased with their new premises, which they will use when the 2007 school year begins. The students were particularly happy with the playing field as there was no such field at Martia Road.

CHIJ Katong Primary falls under Phase 7 of PRIME (Programme for Rebuilding and Improving Existing Schools), a programme of the Ministry of Education (MOE) to upgrade schools. Phasing is determined by the age of the school and the state of its existing facilities, as well as the availability of a holding area for students while the school is being rebuilt. Eight of the 11 IJ schools have already been on PRIME.

The rebuilding is estimated to take two years and cost $13 million. MOE funds 95 percent and the school, the balance. Students, staff and parents held fundraising activities for the $650,000 required for the school’s contribution by holding carnivals, sale of art pieces made or painted by the students and Sponsor-A-Brick donation cards.

Principal Mrs Margaret Tan said, "We’re all very grateful that we’re going to have a new building with better facilities for our children even if it means the existing building will be demolished."

When the students return to Martia Road in two years they will see a new six-storey building with bigger classrooms than now, and more flexi-spaces such as "a performance terrace because they’re very keen on the arts [and] a science deck for their experiments". Mrs Tan said.