i think we’ve established just how stressful registering a child for primary one is. well, for the majority of first-time parents anyway. to everyone who survived this year’s registration process, congratulations!
so, i finally got around to asking my mum how it was during her time when she had to register us for primary school. as it turned out, there *was* a priority and balloting system back then too. and here i was, thinking i was from a dinosaur era where such things didn’t exist, where it was all a simple process of enrolling within a certain distance from where you lived.
mum was teaching at an all-boys’ school when my brother turned primary one, and teachers had priority to register their children in the school where they taught. she transferred to another school nearby soon after, so when it was my turn to register for primary one, i had sibling priority for the all-girls’ school next door, which was affiliated to the all-boys’ one… so yeah, that’s the story. no regrets – loved the school, the teachers, the yellow pinafore, heck even the brown bloomers we had for P.E… (nostalgia is a funny thing, heh.)
(hmm actually, come to think of it, i don’t know why she didn’t just enrol me at the all-girls’ school where she was teaching then, that would’ve saved me SO much time/effort/headache now, seeing how (a) that school has since turned co-ed, (b) shifted to tampines from its original ceylon rd location, and (c) is highly-sought after by parents in this vicinity… ah well, i guess it wasn’t meant to be…)
she also mentioned briefly about the ‘graduate mother scheme’, where priority was given then to children whose mothers were degree holders. thankfully, this was abolished soon after it was implemented, because frankly, i found it a little appalling. i mean, seriously, first you get all mothers to stop at two kids, and when the higher-educated mothers were having fewer babies than lower-educated ones, you worry about the ‘lopsided procreation pattern’. then you use paper qualification as a measure of ‘intelligence genes’, and entice them to beget ‘intelligent’ citizens by giving them first choice of primary schools? maaan, that just reeks of…. well, you know, the ‘E’ word. (the opposite effect imagined in mike judge’s ‘Idiocracy’ – see movie intro.)
in any case, many non-graduate mothers did eventually churn out graduate children after all, so.. phooey.
aaanyway, back to the present time, where the primary school registration system continues to boggle the minds of many. i’d mentioned about doing parent volunteering in the hopes of stepping around the dreaded phase 2C, where it’s a free-for-all and luck plays a big part, like striking 4D or toto. i was having none of that, no siree bob.
and, i am ashamed to admit this.. we ended up each doing PV in two different schools. “WHAT in kiasu gods’ name?! are you MAD? that’s a total of 80 hours of your life!” yes, we’d narrowed down to two choices and we couldn’t decide, so we strategised – in a ‘let’s poke around both and see what each one offers’ kinda way. it was like dating two prospective partners at the same time, or an episode of “The Bachelor” without the rose-giving ceremony…
so within the year, i’d gone on learning journeys to various places (i think i learned more than i ever did during my accumulated years of excursions), did some library inventory (so thaaaat’s what school kids are reading these days, i discovered), talked to teachers, parents, students… while the husband did traffic duties, some e-learning session, talked to teachers, parents, students (and apparently, even canteen aunties)… we observed the culture, the environment, the programmes… and only on the last few days before the anticipated phase 2B did we eventually decide, after a lot of consideration.
one of the factors for choosing school Y over X was the overwhelming registration in the earlier phases for the latter school. it was obvious from the numbers that a balloting would have to take place, and that involved a risk since we live outside the 1-2km proximity. school X has a long history, and with many of its alumni from our generation having children of the same age seeking tradition, many slots were understandably filled up in the earlier phases.
i also presented our dilemma to a number of people whose opinions i value, and they were surprisingly unanimous in their advice. even aniq himself voiced his preference. and since school Y had the foresight to take in a comparatively smaller number of parent volunteers, our slots were confirmed, which meant no stressful balloting.
so there, voila – our firstborn officially has a place in primary school. we did what we could to secure a place for him, and … i hope it’s the right place for him to bloom. (or i’ll freakin’ stuff him in my old brown P.E. bloomers.)
and that ends our ‘exciting’ kancheong-first-time-parent milestone of registering a child for primary one. phew.
(now starting to think about our second round of decision-making, a few years down the road. do i want to see auni in a yellow pinafore being all demure like this? HELL YEAH I WOULD. i’ve always wanted to pass down this yellow-pinafored ‘tradition’ if i ever had a daughter. but hey, there’s still time to make me change my mind… :p)