two singapore schools will merge to provide better education

For better education through Integrated Programme

Two of the top educational institutions in Singapore, Raffles Institution and Raffles Junior College, will merge in January 2009 to provide a more seamless Integrated Programme (IP).

The merger, which will allow students to benefit from a more integrated approach to the school’s programmes, will allow students to develop their talents in specific subjects such as chemistry and literature, and gives them opportunity to develop further in these areas.

Read the Straits Times article below to find out more about this merger and its advantages, as an example of the many ongoing developments in education in Singapore.

RI and RJC to merge in January

Twenty-seven years after they decided to break off into two separate schools, Raffles Institution and Raffles Junior College will become one again.

The merger, which has been in the works for a few years now, was formally announced yesterday.

It will take effect in January, and the new school will be known as Raffles Institution (RI).

It will have 4,600 students, making it the biggest school in Singapore.

The move is being taken to strengthen the school’s six-year integrated programme (IP) and make it more seamless.

On the surface, there will be little change for students. The school will still be an all-boys’ one from Secondary 1 to 4: Raffles Girls School (Secondary) has chosen to stay as a separate entity.

The students will also continue to skip the O levels and finish their six-year course with the A levels.

Students from outside the Raffles family will continue to be admitted, at the Secondary 3 level under the Direct School Admission system, and at the JC1 level for those who do well at the O levels.

The principal of the new outfit, Mrs Lim Lai Cheng, 44 – the first woman head in the school’s 185-year history – said yesterday that the merger will give students an advantage.

“It will help the schools’ decision makers in their planning, and students will benefit from a more integrated approach to programmes,” said Mrs Lim, herself an ex-RGS girl who is currently the RJC principal.

Existing programmes can also be lengthened to give students greater benefits.

For instance, RI now runs a two-year talent programme at Secondary 3 to develop students’ talents in specific subjects like chemistry or literature.

With the merger, the programme can continue till JC2 and enable the students to continue their development in the area, by learning from university professors, for instance.

The other changes are mainly to the leadership structure within the school.

Overseeing Mrs Lim and her team of six deputy principals will be a new board of governors, chaired by Professor Tan Ser Kiat, who heads the current RI board. His deputy will be Professor Cham Tao Soon, who now heads the RJC board.

Mr Bob Koh, who is RI’s principal now, will leave the school for a senior appointment at the Education Ministry.

When asked yesterday why RGS chose to remain separate, Justice Judith Prakash, who heads its board of governors, said the school has built its own identity in the last 130 years as a premier institution for girls, and it would like to stay that way.

“Being in an all-female institution does a lot for the girls’ confidence because they naturally assume leadership.

“Sometimes, girls tend to be a bit diffident when there are boys around,” she said.

Former students of Singapore’s premier school welcomed the move.

Mr Cheng Soon Keong, 44, president of the Old Rafflesians’ Association alumni group, said the new entity will be very different from the RI of the past, which offered a pre-university programme.

“The system has totally changed, we’re definitely not going back to the old days.

“As an alumni member, I think it’s fantastic that the leadership development of students will be more pronounced in future,” said Mr Cheng, who was in the first batch of RJC students in 1982.

He cited better infrastructure and a bigger staff for the new school among the reasons for his optimism.

Prof Cham said there is another reason to be excited: The presence of older students within the same school, which will be inspiring for younger boys.

“Having older students as role models is very important. When I entered RI in Secondary 1, I was inspired by the top students and the rugby captain,” he said.

RI will be the second school running the IP to merge to better offer secondary and pre-university education under one roof.

The other is Hwa Chong Institution, formed by a merger between The Chinese High and Hwa Chong Junior College.

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