Is It Necessary To Send Your Kid To A ‘Branded’ Primary School?

Is it really necessary? Why not a neighbourhood primary school?

I was having a conversation with my colleague the other day and found out that she rented a unit in The Minton despite owning a property in the West. Perplexed, I asked more questions and that was when I discovered that she made the move so she could stay within 1km to Paya Lebar Methodist Girls’ School (PLMGS) and get her daughters into the school. For those who don’t know, PLMGS is one of the more popular primary schools in Singapore, taking the 31st spot in the 2016 Primary School Ranking list.

She went on to tell me that she came from a neighbourhood school. During her time there, she ‘had the time of her life’ with her friends and acing her studies wasn’t her top priority. Fortunately for her, she did relatively well in life; achieving fairly okay grades for her studies later on, landed a good job and started her family. But many of her friends were not that fortunate. And that was the driving force behind her determination not to let her children go through a similar route.

My colleague joined the assembly of parents past and present who will do whatever it takes to send their kids to a ‘good’ primary school. But what makes a primary school ‘good’?

What makes a primary school ‘good’?

Image result for primary student straits times

PHOTO: The Straits Times

Further segregated into ‘branded’, ‘top’ and ‘elite’, sending one’s kids to a good primary school ranks high in priority for many parents for the longest time. The common traits that these primary schools share include:

Perhaps the most important trait is still the belief that sending one’s kids to these primary schools increases their chance of scoring well at the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) – which in turn guarantees they have a ‘headstart in life’. There has been rumours that top school Nanyang Primary School produced 47% graduates who scored above T-score of 250. Nanyang Primary School also produced the top student with a T-score of 283.

For more information on the primary school phases and procedures, click here.

Every School, A Good School?

PHOTO: The Straits Times

Perhaps the Government is trying to back-paddle on their previous stance and deal with this growing elitism issue. The slogan first mentioned by PM Lee in his National Day Rally speech in 2010 and popularised by then-education minister Heng Swee Keat at an MOE seminar in 2011, the Government sought to bridge the divide between the supposed-good primary school and a neighbourhood primary school. Putting their hand where their mouth is, the Government has made adjustments to the handling of PSLE with the most recent move to replace revealing T-scores in favour of 8 scoring bands instead.

I asked my colleague, “Do you agree with the Government’s statement?” She replied in a heartbeat, “No, of course not.” Well, good is relative. Good can mean a school’s ability to educate a child, to get them curious with acquiring knowledge, or to inculcate good values in them? Perhaps her – and many other parents’ – definition of good is the school’s ability to help their child get good grades for the much-needed boost in hyper-competitive Singapore.

I do agree with the Government’s statement that every school is a good school with qualified teachers and a sound curriculum. However, I would say that not every school presents the same opportunities to a child.  Statistics and probability don’t lie.

The brutal truth the Government won’t admit at this juncture is this, a kid who goes to a branded or top primary school is going to find himself placed in an environment with more opportunities to do academically well and to make better informed decisions than a said kid who enrolls in a neighbourhood primary school. Notice I did not say that a kid who goes to a neighbourhood school cannot do well, but the odds do not favour him as much as it does for the kid who goes to a branded school.

Are Grades And Going To A Top School Everything Then?

Image result for primary school singapore

PHOTO: The Straits Times

I thought it more as a propaganda move but a 2015 article published by The Straits Times described how many parents are choosing neighbourhood schools for their kids instead of branded ones. Sending one’s kid to a top school may increase the odds of one’s kid doing better later on in life, it also comes with its challenges.

Studying in a top primary school can be extremely stressful, do we want to subject our children to such stress at a young age? With the Government’s push for more well-rounded students (who are also expected to do well in CCAs) as opposed to students who just excel academically, the demand on a student’s time and cognition could be amplified. It may also require parents to uproot themselves and plan ahead since they have to stay at the registered address within 1-2km to the choice school for 30 months.

At the same time, perhaps something needs to be done with the labelling of primary schools. While we can’t make every school equal because it just isn’t going to work, we can stop calling normal primary schools ‘neighbourhood’ primary schools. It carries negative connotations?

I was with a friend with a family of five at The Criterion EC showflat and another client at Kingsford Waterbay showflat just last Sunday, and witnessed how both parents with no relation with each other are unanimously determined to upgrade to provide a better lifestyle for their children. In the end, everything that parents do, they do it so that their kids can be happy. Some parents decided that the only way for their kiddos to be happy is to make sure they do well in life. Some parents just want their kids… to be happy. There’s nothing wrong with both schools of thought.

The Pursuit Of Happiness

Image result for pursuit of happiness

But if it was up to me, I would say it isn’t absolutely necessary to send my child to a branded primary school. I rather my child be happy above everything else. But that’s just my opinion.

The Government has made many active steps to highlight their stance – that every school is a good school – but parents just aren’t buying it. And they won’t, neither will their obsession with branded schools and grades let up.. Unless we see our Ministers’ children start attending neighbourhood schools, all the measures to bridge the divide would be for naught.

When the Ministers does do so, perhaps then we can send a clear signal that the hallmarks of a successful child is not just in getting into good schools to get good grades; but one who is morally upright, socially responsible, has a thirst for knowledge for knowledge’s sake and most importantly, one who is happy.

What are your thoughts? Do you think that it is necessary to send your child to a branded primary school? Why or why not? RW

Like what you see?

Share this article with your friends! The above article represents the writer’s honest opinion and does not reflect the sentiments of any Government organisation and bodies. Need advice on finding a property near primary schools? You can reach me at 9-833-6450 or The author is a licensed real estate salesperson with Propnex.


Afterthought – 再辛苦也值得


Showflat visiting last Sunday with clients and their kiddos. I’m touched by their intention to upgrade to provide a better lifestyle and ultimately to leave behind something of value to their children.

In the end, even if parents have to work harder, the joy of seeing their children enjoy the fruits of their labour is priceless and it makes their hard work all worth it. 再辛苦也值得。RW

10 Reasons Why Kovan Is The Best Town In Singapore To Live In

Let’s all move to Kovan now.

I was 17 years old when my parents announced that we were moving to Kovan. Having lived in a HDB flat in Potong Pasir all my life, I was damn excited that we were moving to a condominium apartment (Kovan Melody) with a shopping mall (Heartland Mall) in the vicinity. Back then, we didn’t have NEX shopping mall at Serangoon and Potong Pasir was and has always been more of a ‘village’ town.


But when I finally moved there, I was disappointed, having thought that Kovan wasn’t so different from Potong Pasir except for the really awesome food available 24/7. Heartland Mall wasn’t half as exciting as Dhoby Ghaut’s Plaza Singapura too. But the heavens seem to have a plan for this humble little town. Fast forward by 10 years and after 12,345 sunset photos captured, I have repented and can safely say that Kovan is really one of the best town to live in.

Here are 10 reasons why Kovan is the best place in Singapore to live in (and why you should consider moving here).


1. Foodies’ Haven


This is easily the best selling point for (living in) Kovan. Every resident living along the Northeast line knows that Kovan has some of the best hawker delights. Kovan Market and Food Centre (behind Heartland Mall) is known for serving affordable, far-above-average local food. Expect long queue at food stalls Yam Mee Teochew Fishball Mee, Fa Ji Minced Meat Fishball Noodles and 51 Mingfa Wanton Egg Noodle. Elsewhere, Ponggol Nasi Lemak (965 Upper Serangoon Rd) and Nakhon Kitchen (212 Hougang Street 21) are famous for their awesome nasi lemak and thai food. Don’t forget the popular Soon Soon Teochew Porridge (13 Simon Rd) too.

Head north along Upper Serangoon road at dusk. The streets of Kovan light up at night and there are plenty of good food to choose from along the famous ‘Kovan food street’. Dig into the popular scissors cut curry rice at Sin Chie Toke Huan Hainanese Curry Rice (1018 Upper Serangoon Rd) or choose from a delectable array of dishes from Teo Seng Teochew Eating House (1012 Upper Serangoon Rd). Remember to get some beancurd at the ever-popular Selegie Soya Bean (990 Upper Serangoon Rd). Residents craving for some good Indian food can visit Srisun Express (212 Hougang Street 21) which by the way also serves Milo tower (how awesome is that?).

2. Hipster Cafes


Move along Tiong Bahru, Kovan is the next hipster neighbourhood to chill at. Long-time cafe, Ice Edge Cafe (2 Kovan Rd) has delighted Kovan residents for years with its wide selection of handcrafted ice creams, gelato and lava cakes. Further down, Lola’s Cafe (5 Simon Rd) has garnered quite a following with their Avocado Eggs Benedict, Truffle dishes and Nutella Pie, at affordable prices. The arrival of nearby Hatter Street Bakehouse & Cafe (Block 212, Hougang Street 21), Ciel Patisserie (124 Hougang Avenue 1) and Flavour Flings (121 Hougang Avenue 1), in recent years makes Kovan the next best hipster neighbourhood for hipster cafes.

3. Chill Out Bars


Kovan is home to a few longtime (not the shabby type of) bars; Grapevine Cafe Bar & Restaurant (787A Upper Serangoon Rd), O Bar & Restaurant (780 Upper Serangoon Rd) and Joe’s Corner Cafe & Bar (25 Simon Rd). Newcomer Japanese restaurant and bar of sorts, Tachinomiya (211 Hougang Street 21) is a welcoming addition to the already-charming Kovan. With the exception of O Bar, these bars are the best chill out places to hang out with friends and let one’s hair down after a long day of work.

4. Convenient Location

IMG_3858 (edited)


Kovan MRT is 7 MRT stops away from the city (Dhoby Ghaut MRT), taking less than 20 minutes to get there. Kovan is also very well-connected via public bus. You’re stuck in town with no more trains to take? Take bus 147 to bring you back to Serangoon where you can either take bus 153 or take a 10-minute-walk home. Another little known secret is that buses run till late in Kovan. For example, you can still catch bus 81 to the East at 12.30am or bus 153 to the West at 11.45pm.

Drivers will be delighted to find that driving to town takes as little as 15 minutes. Kovan is also strategically located just minutes away from the Central Expressway (CTE), Kallang-Paya Lebar Expressway (KPE) and Pan-Island Expressway (PIE), effectively linking Kovan to everywhere else in Singapore.

 5. Affordable Public Housing

Kovan may not have the ‘bells and whistles’ like nearby Serangoon and Punggol, but that also makes property prices in Kovan that much cheaper. According to HDB’s 2016 1st-quarter resale price statistics, a 4-room flat in Kovan (Hougang) is transacted at around S$383,900 while the same property in Serangoon, Sengkang and Punggol is transacted at S$467,000, S$410,000 and S$435,000 respectively.

Kovan also has lesser HDB flats in comparison to neighbouring towns, reducing human congestion and adding to the hipster neighbourhood feels. It is definitely cheaper to own a public flat in Kovan without sacrificing on comfort and accessibility.

6. Luxurious Living Spaces


There are plenty of luxurious property options for Kovan residents to choose from (and upgrade to). Choose from condominiums (with private lifts), semi-detached, terrace and bungalow freehold landed developments. And there is the highly popular condominiums Kovan Melody (where I live!) and Kovan Residences located right next to Kovan MRT. I am a big fan of the unblocked sunset views at Kovan Melody.

New up-and-coming, British-inspired mixed residential development Stars of Kovan ups the stakes for luxurious living spaces in Kovan. The ground level of the condominium also comes with 46 retail shops and eateries. Interested parties can also acquire one of five terrace landed units. Besides the usual condo facilities, future residents of the atas Stars of Kovan can also get to enjoy impeccable views or BBQ with friends at the sky park. The upscale condominium has already caused quite a stir for its below-expected launch prices as reported in The Straits Times.

7. Kovan Sports Centre


In an urban jungle that is Singapore, finding a decent field to play football is fast becoming an impossible task (and playing on state land is illegal). There are less than 20 futsal courts and Kovan has the privilege to be the venue for one of them. Located less than 10 minutes away from Kovan MRT, every hot-blooded Singaporean man (and woman) can sweat it out on the field at Kovan Sports Centre starting from S$65 per hour (member rates). Students enjoy further discounts of just S$28 per hour!

Bored of futsal? You can also play Water Soccer, Archery Tag, Laser Tag, Bubble Soccer, Dodgeball, Touch Rugby, Handball and Frisbee at Kovan Sports Centre, well how about that! Basketball courts, badminton courts and bowling alleys are also available in Kovan. Let’s never leave Kovan.

8. Shopping Mall(s)


For decades, Kovan residents had to be contended with Heartland Mall, while their Serangoon counterparts were given one of Singapore’s largest suburban shopping mall,  NEX. In spite of this, the humble mall has met the needs of Kovan residents (with Sakae Sushi, Xin Wang HK Cafe, Cold Storage, Popular bookstore and newcomer Shabu Shabu) through the years. Every Y-Gen adult will fondly remember their buying bubble tea at Cup Walker too. With the arrival of Stars of Kovan, residents will be well-rewarded for their decades-long wait. The condominium comes with 46 British-inspired commercial retail shops, giving residents more shopping options.

9. Religious Diversity


Matching up to Singapore’s multi-religious aspirations, Kovan is perhaps one of the few places in Singapore (the other being Chinatown) with institutions of the 3 main religions located within minutes from each other along the same road. Bethesda Serangoon Church, Tou Mu Kung Temple, Masjid Haji Yusoff Mosque and Kim Tian Christian Church are all located along Upper Serangoon Rd. St Paul’s Church, En-Naeem Mosque and Glad Tidings Church are also located in the vicinity of Kovan.

10. Reputable Schools

PHOTO: Jonathan Choo via

Schools are always high priority for residents with children. Fortunately, Kovan is situated near reputable local schools such as Xinmin Primary School, Paya Lebar Methodist Girls Primary School, Nanyang Junior College, St Andrew’s Junior College, Maris Stella High School and Holy Innocents’ Primary School. Foreign residents will also find that international schools such as Australian International School and Stanford American International School are not too far away from Kovan. RW

About The Author

Reuel Eugene Tay is an experienced freelance writer and licensed real estate agent with Propnex. His ambition is to help residents own beautiful homes and he plans to live in Kovan for as long as he is residing in Singapore.

Featured On AirAsia Travel 3Sixty April Issue

If you’re flying AirAsia this month, do flip through AirAsia’s inflight Travel 3Sixty magazine April issue because my article and photos are featured there! Thanks AirAsia for the 3D2N hotel stay!

Well, if you’re a business owner and you need a wordsmith aka copywriter or content creator, I am at your service. Write to me at

P.S. You can also win a 3D2N hotel stay and have your photos & article featured if you follow the instructions in the magazine.

11 Types of Players You Will Meet in DOTA 2

Like it or not, here are 11 players you will meet in the Southeast Asia server of DOTA 2.

Make no mistake, online gaming is booming and Asia is right in the epic center of it all. According to Statista, ‘over half a billion people worldwide play video and computer games on a daily basis, culminating some three billion hours of video games played per week around the globe.

The top four games are League of Legends, Counter Strike: Global Offensive, World of Warcraft and DOTA 2. While the mechanics are different, one of the common element shared by all of these games is that they are hyper competitive and even addictive.

The International PHOTO:

All that attention culminates in the form of ‘eSports’, a term to describe competitive pro-gaming. According to BBC and reported by Techinasia, ‘2013’s League of Legends World Championship attracted a massive 32 million viewers across online streams and offline viewing events.’

The prize pool for this year’s DOTA 2 competition, The International broke all records in eSports history, totalling more than US$18 million in prize money of which more than US$16 million were contributed by the players. Now that’s a lot of time and money spent on gaming. I am a gamer myself and I play DOTA 2. Through the game, I encountered 11 types of players which are interesting to say the least.

Here are your 11 players, check it out.

Can you identify these players in your games? Are there any I’ve missed out? Share them in the comments section below. Disclaimer though, this is just a fun post. Don’t go full mental over it.

1. The Vulgar Dudes

The vocabulary of these guys kids are very limited and colourful at the same time. They can string together seemingly singular profanities into one epic, coherent (and sometimes funny) sentence. Nothing is off-limits to these guys, including bringing your parents into the mix. If they have to put a dollar in the jar everytime they cuss or swear in a full 60 minutes game, whoever receives this jar could be a millionaire.

Their objective is to piss you off and they derive much satisfaction when you get worked up. Best way to deal with these guys is to not reply them. By swearing back at them, you provoke them to up their game and bring in your education, IQ and even your ancestry in their insults. Take what they say with a pinch of salt. Most of them are kids anyway. Or reply them with a :). Pisses them off even more.

2. The Feeder(s)


You know you’re in deep trouble when your teammate who demanded for mid is down by 4 deaths with 0 kills. You know you’re in deeper trouble when your team’s only carry is feeding 0-10. You know it’s a GG when you have both of such players. There must be something wrong with DOTA’s match-fixing because there’s always seems to be at least one feeder in your team.

One of these players even tries out a new hero which they have never played before (or suck at) in a ranked game. Often, their feeding incurs the wrath of their teammates who swear at them excessively. Their logic is, “I’m playing DOTA to have fun, what’s the problem?” Well, I hate to break it to you but you’re spoiling the game of your other four teammates. Your other four teammates are playing because they derive fun from winning the game, not losing it. Go play Co-op Bot game if you’re not so good. Get some practice dude.

3. The Pinoys


Pinoy is another word for Filipinos. “Putang ina mo“, “bobo” and other totally incomprehensible words to majority of gamers in DOTA Asia servers, these guys are playing their own game. They utter words that no one understands but their own kind in a game that’s indisputably international in nature. It’s just coincidental that a lot of them suck at DOTA and feed as well.

Who hates these guys? Practically everyone on Asia server who isn’t a Pinoy apparently. Gamers hate them so much that some change their account names to Fuc*Pinoys. The DOTA community even came out with a word ‘Peenoise‘ for every word uttered by the Pinoys. Personally, I don’t have a vendetta against them (I have Filipino friends), but many are seriously irritating, flooding the group and voice chat with their Tagalog. Plus, they suck at DOTA. Instead of trying to build an exclusive culture with their unique language, they should try to blend in with the larger community of DOTA players. Speak English damnit. And stop feeding.

4. The DJs and Picassos


These are by far one of the most irritating DOTA players you will encounter. They like to switch their mics on and play some stupid music, or even sing into the mic. Thankfully, DOTA 2 has a mute button for these dimwits. And then, there’s the ‘Picasso’. DOTA 2 allows players to draw on the mini map to signal to their allies the route of attack or where their enemies are. Some players abuse this system to doodle on the mini map.

I have no plausible explanation for why anybody would do that. Unfortunately, DOTA does not have a mute button for this. Bottom line, these guys need help. They need psychiatric treatment. Pronto.

5. The Blamer(s)


Noob mid“, “Failed carry“, “Noob hook“, “Feeder” and more. Blamers are a dime a dozen in DOTA. All of us blamed another at some point while playing DOTA. I confess. Boys being boys, finding someone to take the fall for the team’s defeat is very common. But it’s not a very healthy culture. Perhaps we could do away with this blaming culture that’s prevalent in all competitive games. Highly unlikely though.

6. The Chuck Norris



These guys are like the Mew pokemon, super rare. They are so good at DOTA, they could wipe out all five enemies with heavy damage items (from fast farming) and clever play. They are the Chuck Norris, the Terminator, the Stone Cold Steve Austin, you get it right? Treat them well and buy wards for them, they will secure the victory.

7. The Failed Carry


These guys are the antithesis of how carry heroes should be. You know it’s GG when the mid hero your team’s only carry has no heavy damage items at the 20th minute. There’s no cure for noobology. My advice for these guys, use support hero in your next game.

8. The Cyclops


If these players are mutants, I’m highly possible they will have Cyclops’ powers. Eye power is strong in them. They will never engage in a team fight with you. Or they will watch you die before swooping in to kill the enemy. While the rest is clashing with the enemy team, this guy is farming in the jungle.

These fellas need a tight slap. Buy a force staff and push them into the enemy’s line of sight. That ought to do the trick.

9. The Support

These guys are rare. They buy the observer wards, the sentry wards and the flying courier. Nobody enjoys warding because it reaps ‘little personal benefit’. So when you have heroes in your team who decided to ward, treasure them. Say nice things to them. And most importantly, don’t take their courier when they are using it to ward.

Personally, I have a habit of not warding when people take my courier.

10. The KSer


The classic player. You find them in every competitive game. In DOTA 2, you have Zeus the ultimate Kill-stealing machine. And there are players who uses Lion’s Finger of Death or Lina’s Laguna Blade on a dying enemy hero with 1/10 health left. These guys deserve a four-month ban – from DOTA – like Suarez.

How to deal with such players? Personally, I have a penchant for hiding their items in some secluded part of the map so they have to save money all over again to buy that item… *Smiles to self*

11. The Game Thrower

pangseh king


Of all the as*holes here, this has got to be the biggest one. They are worse than players who abandon the game. Some of these guys like to shout mid or feed. And they actually mean it. They charge into the enemy’s base like lamb to the slaughter. These players are like 3-year-old babies, and worse. They don’t get what they want and they make a big fuss about it. Final score is usually 0-20 for them.

I suggest sending Liam Neeson after them. “I don’t know who you are, but I will find you, and I will kill beat the shit out of you.” RW

Keeping (CNY) Traditions


When I was young, CNY was the ultimate festive period I look forward to year after year. Because my late grandparents resided at my place, the entire extended family comes to my place to 拜年 (pronounced ‘Bai Nian’ – Chinese for ‘Wishing somebody a Happy Chinese New Year). I love gatherings. I totally love it. I love the feasting, the CNY movie watching, the Black Jack playing (…Yes! Hahaha), the 紅包 (pronounced ‘Hong Bao’ – Chinese for ‘Red Packet’, monetary blessing presented by elders and married people to children and singles for ‘good luck’ and blessing) receiving and just having fun with all my cousins.

Today, much has changed. Many of us ‘young ones’ are no longer young as we once were.

The matriarch and patriarch of the family may no longer be, but we continue to come together in celebration of how we were placed (by God) in the same family out of so many other families out there.

Some of us may be doing better than our elders, even driving fast cars and carrying expensive watches. But we continue to honor our elders for all the outings, wanton mees and wise council they have given us.

The dollar bills in our red packets may no longer entice us as they did when we had little in our pockets. But the well wishes behind each red packet is worth its weight in gold.

Many of us no longer gamble (because we are Christians!) but we continue to have wholesome bonding.

Lastly, the activities that we enjoy, be it having sumptuous steamboat, playing mahjong or watching a CNY movie, we continue to participate in them even though we have outside friends and activities to indulge with/in, because by doing so we contribute to the unity that has kept the family unit strong through the years.

Some may say that CNY is lackluster in comparison to previous years. It may be so. But CNY is still my favorite period of the year. By keeping traditions, we keep CNY alive in our families and in our hearts.