Monday, 13 April 2015

[Straits Times] Any guidelines on school fund raising?

I SHARE the indignation of the parent of the Anglo-Chinese School (Barker Road) boys who were exhorted by their principal to sell tickets for a fund-raising carnival ("Carnival tickets: Students feel sales 'pressure' "; last Saturday).

A few questions sprang to mind:

Are there any guidelines issued by the Ministry of Education (MOE) concerning fund raising in schools, such as the maximum amount that schools are allowed to raise?

If the sky's the limit, there may be higher expectations on students to meet sales targets.

Schools with many students from wealthy and generous families may be able to raise large amounts, thus benefiting the students disproportionately, compared with students from less well-endowed schools. This will only reinforce the widely held perception that some schools are really better than others, thus defeating MOE's stand that "every school is a good school".

Students from less well-off families may feel the need to keep up with wealthier classmates in the sums raised. It is unfair to expect all students to meet a minimum target, especially those from families which are already struggling financially.

Are students on financial assistance schemes exempted from such minimum targets? It would be extremely ironic if they are also expected to meet the same standards as their classmates'.

The article quoted principal Peter Tan as saying in his letter to parents that a parent had offered "to drive in his Ferrari and Maserati to add to the carnival atmosphere".

I doubt it is wise to use a Ferrari or a Maserati as a way to enhance a carnival experience.

I am sure that schools can come up with other, more creative and wholesome, means to enliven the atmosphere. At a time when socio-economic inequality is rife, it smacks of unadulterated elitism to flaunt a parent's ownership of luxury cars in a school.

Schools should not pander to such materialistic notions and set materialistic goals that are unattainable for most students and their families.

MOE should step in and rein in excesses in fund raising that will only exacerbate the growing divide between the haves and have-nots.

Maria Loh Mun Foong (Ms)