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Dragon Kids Straining Singapore’s Schools

July 28, 1994

SINGAPORE (AP) _ A baby boom resulting from the Chinese belief that children born in certain years grow up to be more intelligent is straining Singapore’s schools.

When primary schools opened admissions this month for first grade, they were swamped by 6-year-old dragon kids.

Six years ago, thousands of Chinese couples had children to coincide with the lucky Year of the Dragon. Ethnic Chinese, who form 76 percent of Singapore’s 3.3 million people, believe that babies born that year grow up to be more intelligent.

In the Chinese lunar calendar, years are named after one of 12 beasts, such as pig, horse, tiger or rabbit.

Government figures show 53,000 children applied for admission in 197 primary schools this year, the Year of the Dog, compared with 44,000 last year, the Year of the Rooster.

″The dragon has ensured a lot of extra work for the teachers,″ said Mary Lim Cho Koen, principal of Mayflower Primary School. ″I am sure the parents also will be relieved when the admissions end on Friday.″

She said her school will admit 400 students, compared with 240 in previous years.

Singaporeans put a high value on education and spend large parts of their life savings on tuition, books and supplies for their children. In a country where work is worship, parents take valuable time off from their jobs to try to get their children into schools with better facilities or topnotch teachers.

Primary school-age children are assured an education, although parents may have to compromise and send kids to far-off schools or ones that are not highly regarded.

On Wednesday some parents lined up as early as 3 a.m.

″There was a queue of about 100 people when we opened the school gates,″ said Mrs. Lim, the school principal.

-28-94 1112EDT

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