Sunday, January 1, 2012

Zoe Tay fails to get son enrolled in Nanyang Primary School

SINGAPORE - Fame and fortune can get you many things, but it is apparently not enough to help get your son into a brand-name primary school in Singapore.

According to the Lianhe Zaobao, MediaCorp actress Zoe Tay, 43, and her husband, Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) pilot Philip Chionh, 42, have failed to enrol their eldest son, Brayden, 6, into Nanyang Primary School (NYPS).

The results of Phase 2B of this year's Primary 1 registration exercise were made known last month.

This is despite the high-profile couple putting in some 80 hours of voluntary work at the school, under the Ministry of Education's (MOE) parent volunteer scheme for primary one registration.

Under the scheme, parents may volunteer a minimum of 40 hours at the primary school of their choice, in order to increase the chances of their child gaining admission into the school.

But some elite schools like Nanyang primary - whose alumni includes Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Mandopop singer Stephanie Sun - have more stringent criteria.

Parents who wish to increase their child's chances of admission are required to volunteer a minimum of 80 hours at the school. And even then, the 'waiting list' to volunteer is a long one, with many parents vying for the opportunity, reported Zaobao.

The couple have two other boys - Ashton, 4, and Nathan, 10 months.

Madam Zhong, another parent volunteer at NYPS, said she has seen the couple volunteering at the school.

Madam Zhong told Zaobao she saw Zoe's husband helping to take pictures of guests and dignitaries at an art exhibition held at the school.

"It could be that Zoe was pregnant with Nathan at the time, that's why her husband helped out," said Madam Zhong.

The news that the veteran actress has failed in her bid to enrol her son at the school should take some netizens by surprise.

Speculation had been rife on some forums that celebrity parents such as Zoe, would definitely get priority when it comes to the primary school registration.

Insiders say many schools in Singapore are autonomous and have to hold fund-raising activities to run the school programmes.

Therefore they get is that a celebrity who endorses the fund-raising event will stand a greater chance of being a parent volunteer at the school.

But Zoe's failed bid also proves that the school is fair in treating all parents equally.

One parent, Madam Ke, told Zaobao that Zoe "lost out" on the opportunity, because she "did not do enough homework" and did not ensure that her home was within a one- or two-kilometre radius of the school.

This would have given her son another chance of getting a place at the school by being eligible for the balloting process, if there were vacancies.

She said the actress lives along Holland Road, which is more than two kilometres away from the Bukit Timah school.

Considering the couple's financial situation, moving to an Orchard Road apartment within one kilometre of the school should not have been a problem, said Madam Ke.

But as she did not do so, she forfeited her last chance of balloting for a place in the final phase of registration.

Henry Park Primary School for Brayden

When interviewed by Zaobao, Zoe admitted that she was not able to get her son into the school. She said she chose NYPS not just because its prestige and illustrious alumni, but also because of its focus on Mandarin.

Zoe had hoped that Brayden could get a good foundation in Mandarin and Chinese culture at the school.

But now, it seems the six-year-old may be enrolling in his father's alma mater - Henry Park Primary School, according to Zaobao.

The recently concluded Phase 2C of the primary one registration process - the last phase exclusively for Singapore citizens -saw many parents vying for the last few places at popular schools, some oversubscribed by more than four times.

South View primary school - one of the most popular this year - saw the hottest contest, with 93 applicants vying for 21 places.

A similar situation greeted anxious parents at Rosyth Primary, another top primary school, where 93 applicants awaited the result of the ballot for only 24 places.

Edvantage | Fri Aug 12 2011

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