P1 Registration Post COVID-19 - A modern Singapore 'Tradition' goes online
It’s the first week of school for 2021, the day of reckoning for 7 year-olds who start Primary 1. But even before their first-day-of-school jitters , parents had their own jitters when it came to tackling the 2020 P1 Registration excercise.
Ah, P1 registration day – a rite of passage of all new parents. You take leave, wake up early, then head to the school that your kid will hopefully be enrolled in.
It’s an anxious day of queues, hot weather and fiddling about with paperwork. One could almost say it’s tradition.
Even before the first day of school jitters, parents have to go through P1 registration jitters first! PHOTO: UNSPLASH.com
Of course, with COVID-19, tradition had to give way to tech. Reason being, many anxious parents in queues don’t exactly qualify as safe distancing.
In the interest of public health and safety, MOE moved the 2020 P1 Registration exclusively online.
The intention was to give parents online means for all the registration phases; especially in the midst of COVID-19 where registration at school or MOE HQ was disallowed.
While phase 1A and 2A already typically take place online, 2020’s Phases 2A1, 2A2 and 2B, saw parents logging in via their SingPass, and registering their P1 kids using the FormSG platform.
Developed with an agile mindset!
For years, MOE had been looking at taking the P1 registration process online. COVID-19 served as the catalyst in 2020.
Well before Circuit Breaker, when COVID-19 loomed in the background in March, the development team was preparing to expedite this, to make it for make it in time for 2020 year’s P1 registration exercise.
Instead of waiting for the full product to be built, they instead launched it in beta, whilst continuously making small improvements to the platform.
In the words of Senior Project Manager Tan Yeo Kwang, agile was one of the core considerations behind this project:
“The solution does not have to be perfect at the initial launch. It’s often more effective to improve it as things move along. That’s why we started with email registration (Phase 1) then moved to FormSG (Phase 2A1, 2A2, 2B, 2C) when we were ready.”
A Safer and Faster way to register online
With its inaugural launch, FormSG received 20,000 applications during the 2020 P1 Registration execercise.
One parent, Ms Julie Lim, who registered her child online using FormSG for Elias Primary School, was surprised by how fast it took.
“I estimated it took me around five minutes when I had my documents prepared. I just logged in my SingPass and with a few clicks, it was done.
My friends told me that it took them about an hour when they registered in person. I was expecting a longer wait!”
Another parent, Robin Seah, who used the FormSG system, agreed,
“The actual process was pretty straight forward from what I imagined. The processes were spread out which give parents a breathing/thinking space between each phase.
Using SingPass also helped greatly as most of the details were auto populated, saving applicants precious time.”
Still a work in progress
Even though P1 registration is over, the team’s work is far from done. While they managed to get the system online quickly, they are also more than aware that there are things that need to be improved. Not one to rest his laurels, Senior Project Manager Yeo Kwang elaborated:
“I’m proud of the effort we’ve put in, but there’s still work to be done!
For instance, the forms can be improved to populate more data and perform more validation.
At present, FormSG is also not linked to the MOE database, though this is something that we might work on in the future.https://www.tech.gov.sg/media/technews/p1-registration-goes-online