Monday, June 7, 2010

Ask Mrs Lim - May 2010

1. What is the difference between GCE “A” Level and IB? Which is better for my child?

Simply put, the GCE "A" Level curriculum emphasises depth within each subject discipline while the IB is about breadth across a range of subjects. 

In the Singapore GCE "A" Level system, admission to local universities depends on the university admission score (UAS), which is calibrated based on the following subjects: three H2 subjects and one H1 subject (one of which must be a contrasting subject), General Paper, and Project Work. Students must also obtain at least a D7 in Mother Tongue; the Mother Tongue grade can be used in the calculation of the UAS if its inclusion helps to increase the score. For admission to overseas universities, students should have good grades in at least three of the H2 subjects. Students can also differentiate themselves in terms of academic rigour and depth of understanding in a particular subject area by offering an H3 subject in the discipline that they wish to pursue at tertiary level.

For the International Baccalaureate (IB), students take three subjects at Standard level and three at Higher level. Students also have to meet requirements for three other components - Theory of Knowledge (TOK), Creativity, Action & Service (CAS), and an Extended Essay (EE).  If you fail any of these subjects or components, you fail the whole examination. Each of the 6 subjects carry a maximum of 7 points; another 3 points are available depending upon the marks gained for TOK and EE. The maximum number of points is 45. Most overseas universities will consider admitting IB students with 39 points and above, but admission into the university will still be based on personal statements, recommendations and other criteria.

As to which is better for your child, my take is that for students who like to delve deep into subject areas, be it science, mathematics, history, economics or literature, the "A" level is a better route as it allows the child to go as far as he or she wants to. For example, the H3 subjects provide students with a variety of learning opportunities to pursue areas in which they have interest and exceptional aptitude. This includes exploring advanced content, and attending research attachments to the various science research institutes, as well as to local and international universities. Those who prefer working on their own and pursuing their own research area – especially in mathematics and the sciences – will therefore find the "A" level curriculum more suited to their needs. 

On the other hand, as most subjects in the IB have a 20% school-based component assessed by the teachers within the school, your child is provided less time to delve deeply into a subject, as curriculum time is spread more broadly across the different subjects. This also means that your child’s grade depends not on a final examination, but on the consistent work that he or she would have to produce throughout the year.Such school-based assessment components include presentations and independent papers. To this end, the IB pedagogy is characterised by much interaction in class; your child would also have to be strong in his or her language ability, and enjoy giving presentations and writing papers across a range of subject matters. The IB curriculum articulates well into university courses that are broad-based, along the lines of the liberal arts colleges.

In my recent interaction with top US colleges (such as Princeton and University of Pennsylvania) and UK universities (such as Oxford, Cambridge and the London Universities), they still put a premium on academic rigour and prefer students to exhibit depth within subject areas. Scholarship boards also highlight the need for intellectual rigour, content mastery, and a strong grasp of subject matter within and outside of the syllabus.

My advice to parents choosing between the two is to think about the personality of your child as well as his or her learning style. Think also about his or her future plans for university and career, and work backwards. If your child is unable to keep up with the consistent work needed for continual assessment because of commitments that take him or her out of classes or school, the IB may not be a good idea. However, if your child has an interest in many disciplines and prefers not to focus only on a few areas, and has a strong command of the English Language as well, then the IB will be an interesting option for him or her.

2. Is RI going to offer IB soon? If not, why?

RI will continue to offer the GCE "A" Level because of its academic rigour. We have considered offering a small group of our students who prefer a broad-based curriculum an alternative, such as the IB. Whether we are able to do this depends on the Ministry of Education. As of now, there is no indication when we are able to do this.

Friday, January 29, 2010

January: Every Rafflesian a Lifelong Reader

A good friend who has two children was recently lamenting to me that they do not like reading and because of that they are not scoring good enough marks for English. So he tried to take them to bookshops and libraries and stipulated a few hours of reading each day. He reported that they did not take to this regimentation very enthusiastically.

I asked if he himself enjoyed reading himself and was often found with a magazine or a book. He confessed that he was a couch potato and preferred to watch movies and television. Therein lies the crux of the issue. Children who read tend to pick up the habit from their parents. If there are reading materials strewn about the house, or if parents recommend interesting books for their children to read from young, the habit will catch on very naturally.

Prof Tommy Koh once shared at a breakfast talk that the cultured person is one who has read history and literature, and he recommended very highly some of the literacy classics of Southeast Asia, such as the Ramayana and the Analects. He said that every time he travels, his wife would pack two books in his luggage and he had the happy excuse of staying in his hotel room to read in the evenings, rather than spend the evening wondering what to do with himself.

I have a list of 2009 books I would like to recommend for adult readers and a separate list for younger boys. (Please see below.)

As we herald in a new year, my wish is for every Rafflesian to be a lifelong reader. No one can be lonely when they continually bask in the warmth of a good book and no one can be dogmatic or narrow-minded if they are constantly exposed to ideas and perspectives from different people.

A Dozen Good Reads for Boys 


A History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

A Little History of the World by E H Grombich

Undercover Economist by Tim Harford

1421: The Year China Discovered the World by Gavin Menzies

The Pig that Wants to be Eaten (and 99 Other Thought Experiments) by Julian Baggini

The Economic Naturalist: Why Economics Explains Almost Everything by
Robert Frank


The Curious Incident of the Dog In the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

The Narnia Chronicles by C S Lewis

The Hobbit by J R Tolkien

The Waterworks by El Doctorow

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Heartland by Daren Shiau

My Top 10 Books for Adults in 2009

Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell

The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything by Ken Robinson

How the Mighty Fall And Why Some Companies Never Give In by Tim Collins

The Flipside: Finding the Hidden Opportunities in Life by Adam J Jackson

The Opposable Mind: How Successful Leaders Win Through Integrative Thinking by Roger Martin

Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us by Seth Godin

Smart World: Breakthrough Creativity and the New Science of Ideas by Richard Ogle

Strategic Intuition: The Creative Spark in Human Achievement by William Duggan

Iconoclast: A Neuroscientist Reveals How to Think Differently by Gregory Berns

Free: The Future of a Radical Price by Chris Anderson

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

December: Teen Engagement

As we approach the end of the 2009 school term, I would like to take this opportunity to wish all Rafflesian families a happy and well-deserved break from work and school. The year-end is a time when the rhythm of work slows down and I hope all of you will be able to spend some quality time reconnecting with your loved ones.

I have a teenage daughter myself and I have gained a few insights this last year, talking to her and through meetings I had with parents and students who are facing challenges. There is an occupational hazard which I have observed in Rafflesian parents, including myself. We are oftentimes trapped by our own success. Our children have done well because of the supervision and care which we have given them in their primary school years. As we ourselves get more absorbed in our work, we spend less time with them, thinking they are old enough to take care of themselves. Some of us are out of the country fairly often. We come home late from work tired and are back on our computer after dinner. Since school work is so demanding anyway, we expect our children to be absorbed in their studies. We ignore signs of the growing gulf between parent and child and wonder why our teenagers prefer to spend time with their friends outside of home, rather than with us. We wonder why they are slacking in their work. We try to get the boys off gaming, but besides nagging at them to stop, we have little by way of conversation topics, to engage them.

Doing poorly in school, for students who are strong academically is at best a symptom of a deeper issue the child is facing. Do we really know what is eating at the hearts of our teens? Do we know the depth of their loneliness and need for connection? Most of us grew up very independently of our parents, and we have managed solitude and the confusion of the teenage years well. This generation, I discover, appear to be more reliant on others and seem unable to be by themselves for long. They get bored and discouraged easily.

The Raffles Parents’ Association has, in the course of this year, conducted talks on how to relate to our teenagers. Some of you have attended these and I hope they have been useful. May I encourage more to get together when such platforms are available, so that we can better support each other to help our kids through their teenage years. In an environment where the media, peer influence and shifting values work to confound what we teach at home and in our Character and Learning Education (CLE) class, we need as much time as possible to relate to our children, in an uncritical and non-evaluative manner. Never appear shocked at what they tell you, of what they and their friends get up to. Help them analyze situations impartially and give them time to think through what is the best way to respond to the issues.

Stay home as much as possible so that your child will be comforted that you are there for him/her when they are home. There is no need for conversation if they do not wish to chat. Just be there.

Keep in close touch with your children’s teachers. Keep in close touch with other parents. If you would like to have a chat with a parent of a teenager, do email me at I shall be happy to chat.

Warmest wishes for a cosy and happy end of year.

November: Why History Matters in RI

I was not able to be present at the townhall meeting on 21 November to discuss leadership development in RI. I was quite tickled by the fact, when told to me by Deputy Principal Mr Kenneth Kwok who chaired the session, that there was a discussion on whether it is preferable to be a big fish in a small pond, or a small fish in a big pond. I am extremely grateful to the parent who stole the show by his calm explanation that, whether it is “a big fish in a small pond” or “a small fish in a big pond”, the “size of the fish is still the same” and that what is important is the “quality of the water”. What a clever way of putting it!

RI, as most of you know, provides a unique environment for our students. Apart from being a place where curious minds are constantly being challenged and opportunities abound for students to pursue individual passions and interests guided by passionate teachers, one irreplaceable factor that makes it stand out from any other school in Singapore is its history.

RI would be just another one of a few high performing schools, without its heritage and history. Which other school in Singapore was personally founded by Sir Stamford Raffles himself, and designated to be the education hub that would inspire the best in those who would inherit the leadership of the land? Which other school in Singapore has a patron, William Wilberforce, who was the only member of parliament in Victorian England to dare to question the inhumanity of the slave trade and worked for decades to abolish it? Which other school in Singapore can boast of headmasters who were Queen scholars, or able to shoot tigers that appeared in the billiard rooms, at the turn of the century? Which other school in Singapore has nurtured fiery young minds who, adorned in white uniforms, went on to shape the future of a new nation?

Every student in RI has a copy of “The Eagle Breeds a Gryphon”. I hope that every child and parent will take time to read the book and appreciate the evolution and development of Raffles Institution. Realize that the success of RI and Singapore is not by chance. It is instead founded upon sheer tenacity and a steely will, on the part of those who knew what they had to do, and were prepared to sacrifice their lives to make vision a reality.

To be able to grasp the future well, we have to connect with our past and realize our destiny. May every Rafflesian student charge ahead, like the gryphon on our crest, ever willing to blaze the trail and lead the way.

Auspicium melioris aevi. Hope of a better age.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Oct: Think, Lead, Pioneer

With specialized schools being set up to nurture specific areas of interest such as sports, the arts and mathematics and science, some of you may be wondering: what is RI’s niche?

It is simple: leadership.

Rafflesians are meant to be the Hope of a Better Age as our motto, Auspicium Melioris Aevi, expresses. Rafflesians therefore need to be able to think, lead and pioneer in areas they are strong and passionate in, whether it be mathematics and science, the humanities, sports, performing and/or visual arts. This means that our boys should not only be trained to be excellent in a given field, but to master the skills of leading and inspiring passion in others as well. We hope to nurture not only world-class pianists but also a future Minister of the Arts. We hope to nurture not only top scientists but also CEOs of science research institutes. The CEO looks at the bigger picture, and possesses the wisdom and foresight to direct and support others to apply their knowledge for maximum positive impact on the local and global community.

How do we develop such leadership in our students and see to their social-emotional growth and character development?

One way leadership is developed is through explicit teaching of key skills, mindsets and behaviours. In RI, there are leadership development modules at every level of the students’ Character and Leadership Education (CLE) curriculum which is carried out during class-time every week for one hour. The leadership framework adopted throughout the six years of Rafflesian education is The Leadership Challenge, an evidence-based leadership model espoused by Kouzes and Posner. CLE teachers, civics tutors, form teachers and Co-Curricular Activities (CCA) teachers refer to the five tenets of leadership within this framework - Model the Way, Inspire a Shared Vision, Challenge the Process, Encourage the Heart and Enable Others to Act - to help students understand their strengths and areas for improvement. In addition, we have the Raffles Leadership Programme (RLP) for our Year 3 students as well as elective modules such as Leadership Through The Ages, a special research module conducted by Raffles alumni which examines case-studies of great leaders.

Students also need to be given the opportunity to apply the leadership skills they have learnt. These platforms include the RI Prefectorial Board, the Class Executive Committees and the CCA and House committees. Even without these formal appointments, however, students also have the opportunity to take on a variety of leadership roles as part of their daily life in RI. We believe that leadership should be a natural, organic and authentic aspect of life and not dependent on a title. Any Rafflesian can be a leader. For example, students can practice their leadership skills as group leaders for the project teams that are formed to complete project assignments for the different subjects. Students can also sign up for Student Organizing Committees which plan and run major school-wide events such as the Teachers’ Day and Youth Week celebrations. Such activities are not limited only to prefects or Class Executive Committee members.

Of course, leadership development is not just about the head (theory) and hand (practice). It is also about the heart. We want leaders who have the right values: a strong sense of purpose, a passion for service and rootedness to Singapore.

Our Community Involvement Programme sees service groups operating at the individual, class, CCA, cohort and school level. Every year, for example, our Sec 4 boys work with the Raffles Parents Association to organize a Chinese New Year Dinner for residents of nearby old folks’ homes and later in the year, are involved in a major refurbishment project for residents of one-room flats in Geylang Bahru. Service-Learning continues to be a significant component of our Research Education programme as well with many students volunteering to work with Volunteer Welfare Organizations.

As an institution with a strong tradition of public service and social engagement, Rafflesians are also constantly exposed to broader issues of national or international significance through our National Education programme. This includes the invitation of prominent speakers and former Rafflesians at the RI Lecture with Ministers, the Raffles Ambassador Series and our Lower Secondary National Education Lectures.

To help our students develop a global perspective, the school organizes various overseas learning opportunities for our young Rafflesians. Each year, besides the various CCA and academic learning journeys, all Year 2 students make a cohort trip to Malaysia together and in Year 3, students can sign up to be involved in the Overseas Immersion Programme (OIP) which sees them doing community service, school attachment and home-stay in a partner school in a neighbouring Asian country for two weeks. We hope such experiences inspire in our students an openness to different cultures and a greater sense of responsibility as global citizens.

We also want our leaders to be tough and resilient. Our rigourous CCA programme nurtures Rafflesians to be persevering and to have strength of character. CCAs also offer our boys the opportunity to develop their skills at time management, working in teams, etc. In Year 3, all boys attend a one-week Outward Bound School (OBS) programme to help them develop ruggedness, interpersonal awareness and team spirit. Our RLP also has a Boarding component because we want Rafflesians to be independent and able to interact with people from different backgrounds.

Civics Education continues to be an important part of the Rafflesian way of life in Years 5 and 6. The fast-paced environment and wider array of programmes in the JC years also stretch students’ sense of independence, initiative and drive even further. For example, at Years 5 and 6, all civics groups undergo a class cum adventure camp organized by the Raffles Institute for Experiential Learning (RIEL) which is staffed by outdoor specialists and experts in experiential education. In Years 5 and 6, students now have more than 110 clubs and CCA groups to choose from and thus, even more opportunities to lead and serve. Many social entrepreneurial projects and charity events undertaken by the JC students are student-initiated and Rafflesians annually contribute large amounts of money to voluntary organizations, within and outside of the country. Each year, more than 10 international service learning groups are mounted to places such as India, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia and Thailand.

In the coming years, the school will be looking into even greater exposure for all our students so as to help them further develop multicultural perspectives and engagement with other communities and societies beyond the students’ immediate circle. Our students need to know how to work with the new and the unknown. Apart from the current electives such as the Raffles Asia Programme, Raffles Bicultural Programmes (India, China and Middle East), Raffles Public Policy Programme and Raffles Renaissance Programme, we also hope to allow for even more students to be attached to local as well as foreign institutions so that they can extend their learning beyond the classroom.
What do we ask of Rafflesians, the would-be leaders whom we have heaped so much expectation on?
We hold the Promethean Day ceremony annually to allow for one cohort of leaders to pass the torch of leadership to the next. This metaphorical flame represents the Rafflesian spirit and our core values: fortitude, integrity, respect and enterprise. It is our hope that Rafflesians will use their gifts and talents to lead in serving and lead by serving, whatever their chosen paths may be. We trust that they will be men and women of character, confidence and commitment, who will leave their imprint on their community and nation.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Speak Good English

Dear parents,

The Minister for Education, at the recent Workplan Seminar for MOE staff and principals, highlighted renewed efforts to get our schools and students to raise their English proficiency level. Nurturing the communication and language skills of young Singaporeans is crucial in ensuring that they will be able to thrive in our increasingly globalised world.

As parents, you may like to know what RI does to expose students to good English and to ensure a high standard of language use, both in written and oral forms.

To begin with, every morning before flag-raising, the BBC World Service is played so that our boys listen to models of good pronunciation and also gain an understanding of key issues affecting the world. Every Wednesday, a carefully selected short story is also circulated at the parade square to all who wish to have something to read before flag-raising or for the rest of the day. This is one of the projects launched by the English department to introduce our boys to a wide spectrum of literature such as Maupassant, Narayanan and Poe. Another initiative is the Books, Blokes and Breakfast series where alumni, including teachers who are Old Boys, talk about their favourite books during recess time at the main atrium. The tagline for this programme? – Real Men Read!  

In addition to our Oral Communication curriculum for the Lower Secondary pupils, oral presentation skills also feature strongly in the assessment for Research Education and all Sec 4 students end the year with an Oral Defence where they present a reflection piece about their time in RI to their classmates, teachers and parents. There are various after-school activities as well to encourage our young Rafflesians to improve their reading, writing and speaking skills. The English department runs numerous poetry, prose and playwriting workshops, often with the help of professional writers like Alvin Pang to serve as role models, while the Philosophy department runs a Philosopher’s CafĂ© which is a space for students to come together, speak their minds and hone their skills in verbal expression.

Educationists agree that drama is a particularly effective way to improve language skills. Besides the annual inter-house Drama Festival which sees our boys write, direct and perform original works, we also have the inter-class Drama Challenge for all Sec 2 students and the Parody Showcase by the Upper Secondary students.

Our success in various oratorical and creative writing competitions both local and international is testimony to the language prowess of our boys. Scrabble, has been steadily gaining popularity in the school as well and I am proud to say that, for the third year running, we have emerged champions for the National Inter-School Scrabble Competition. We are even prouder of the fact that our boys share their skills with others - we have students conducting drama workshops in other schools, running Book Clubs for the community and debate workshops for primary school enthusiasts who want to learn more about the art.

In fact, there is so much interest in debating among Rafflesians that we plan to establish a Debate Academy within RI with alumni as Fellows to help conduct clinics and training sessions not only for the Debating Club members but all Rafflesians. Debating is, after all, an excellent platform to train students to think on their feet and articulate their thoughts, and we hope to further build on our school’s good reputation after our recent achievements at The Arena, the Julia Gabriel’s Inter-School Debating Championships (six-time champion) and the World Debating Championships where RI placed an impressive three speakers in the Top 10 Best Individual Speaker list

Of course, good speaking is not only for competitions and assessments. It needs to be a part of everyday life. That is why we are committed to giving students every opportunity to engage in public speaking in authentic settings. Flag-raising and morning announcements are all managed by the students themselves rather than teachers and even for major school functions, Rafflesians are given the opportunity to interact with VIPs, serve as emcees and moderate forum discussions. No easy feat for boys so young but our Rafflesians always rise to the occasion.   

Let me assure parents that we will continue to work towards exposing our boys to a high standard of English and encouraging them to read widely so that they can articulate their views on a variety of issues with confidence, precision and flair. This will prepare them to take on the demanding leadership roles of tomorrow. 

Lai Cheng

Monday, August 31, 2009

RI Founder's Day Speech, 15 Aug 2009

Board members, distinguished guests, parents, staff, fellow Rafflesians, past and present, friends.

1 The theme for this year’s Founder’s Day is One. One, to me, signifies Focus, a trait we want to see in all Rafflesians. One is Unity that comes from the reintegration of RI and RJC as well as the close partnership with RGS. One embodies our Aspiration for Rafflesians - to be always leading, pioneering and making a difference.

2 There are several old boys in our midst today. I know that in all your minds, there is only ONE Raffles Institution – the school where you spent the best years of your lives. The RI that you know – be it at Bras Basah or Grange Road - is different yet strangely similar to the one you are in right now. While the physical facilities may be vastly different, the Rafflesian spirit is strong as ever. The Rafflesian drive to push the limits and excel is as evident now as it was in your time.

3 Let me give you evidence of this through a recount of our recent achievements. At the national examinations, no other institution had students scoring 9 distinctions, we had 6. Among them is Soh Ming Quan who topped the whole Singapore cohort, having offered 13 units in 9 subjects and gotten distinctions in all of them. Ming Quan was from St Anthony’s Pri School and for six years, he took the MRT from Jurong East at dawn to get to RI. He would read his notes on the long way to school. Ming Quan is currently teaching at the JC and will be reading Science at Imperial College on a Teaching Scholarship. He says there is now a direct bus from Jurong to Bishan which he takes, but nothing else has changed for him.

4 At the “A” levels too, we had 100 students with 8 distinctions and 250 students with 7 distinctions. Among the 1200 students who graduated, one in two had 4 As and three in four had 3 As. Nine out of the 10 medals given out by the Institute of Physics for top Physics exam scorers went to Rafflesians. The Angus Ross prize winner who turned in the best literature paper at “A” levels is Aaron Chee. Aaron was very active in the NCC at RI and was a prefect too. He has been awarded a PSC Foreign Service Scholarship and will read Economics & Management at Oxford University.

5 There is more to Raffles than intellectual rigour. Last year, across the A, B and C divisions, we won 27 championship titles – that is, 27 team Gold medals in sports such as Track & Field, Cross Country, Badminton, Tennis, Cricket, Swimming, Table Tennis and Waterpolo. The sporting season is not quite over yet. So far, we have garnered 24 Gold, 20 Silver and 13 Bronze medals. This includes the championship title for “A” Division Rugby. Last year, RI, as a six-year institution chalked up 67 Team and 109 Individual National Colours Awards - the largest number among schools in Singapore.

6 Nine Rafflesian athletes represented Singapore at the inaugural Asian Youth Games. Year 5 swimmer Quah Ting Wen contributed 4 of the 9 Golds for Singapore. 39 Rafflesians represented Singapore at the 1st ASEAN school games held in Thailand. They contributed 5 medals to the 13 won by the Singapore team. Year 4 swimmer Yeo Jia Cheng won 2 gold and 2 silver medals while Year 2 boy Bryan Teo returned with a gold and silver medal for table tennis. He must have been the youngest in the team.

7 Our performing arts groups comprising the Malay, Indian, Chinese & Modern Dance, String Ensemble, Guitar Ensemble, Chinese Orchestra, Choir, Symphonic Band, Chinese Drama, English Drama and Harmonica Ensemble achieved 14 Golds, 5 of which are Gold with Honours, 6 Silver Awards and 1 Bronze Award. One of our boys, Jonathan is so talented in music that he was admitted for a degree program at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory while at Year 3. Instead of going through JC, he is now pursuing his Music degree full time, at NUS.

8 Our uniformed groups have maintained a very strong track record. The Scouts, Red Cross, NCC and Boys Brigade attained Gold & Excellent Unit Awards. Three of our Boys Brigadiers received the President’s Award this year. This is the highest award that a Boys Brigadier can hope to achieve in his school life. Those of us who were at the Istana to witness the ceremony were very proud of them. One mother told me that the family had been in need since her husband passed away from an illness and she was glad that the school was there to support the family.

9 In RI, every student who has a passion will be able to find a platform to develop his interest. In the Report that you have in front of you, we have attempted to capture some of these. In national competitions such as the Eco-Challenge, the NTU-NUS Astro-Challenge, National Science Challenge, Creative and Heuristic Applications of Science or CHAOS Competition, Singapore Chemical Science Fair, NJC Mathematics Challenge, NUS-MOE Amazing Lab Race Championship Title, Green Wave Environmental Care Competition and the National Infocomm Club Competition, our Year 1 to 4 teams outdid their competitors to win first prize. The Infocomm Club even won themselves a fully paid trip to Silicon Valley for the second time.

10 We also have students who represented Singapore at the International Olympiads. This year, Amyas Chew, Yuan Zhengxiang and Wang Daobo brought back a Gold medal for Physics, Biology and Chemistry respectively. At the Taiwan International Science Fair, Daniel Chew won First Award in the Zoology category while our team of Physicists (a mixed level team) were Champions at the US Invitational Young Physicists Tournament held in Virginia.

11 The debating tradition has grown very strong in RI. In the National Secondary debating championship, our team won the championship title for the 6th consecutive year. The all-Rafflesian Debate Team that represented Singapore in the World Schools Debating Championships in Athens this year was placed third with three of the speakers ranked within the top ten. This is an unprecedented achievement for Singapore. There were two Year 4 debaters in this group and one of them, Teoh Ren Jie was ranked 4th in the world.

12 What do we expect of Rafflesians? What are scholarship boards, top universities, top faculties and employers looking for? Time and again, I am told by interview panels that they are looking for students with intellectual rigour, individuals who are able to articulate a strong sense of purpose and mission in life, and team players who can empathize and connect with others. To the credit of the staff at all levels, the Raffles Programme has helped our students differentiate themselves and develop their own individuality and a strong sense of social responsibility.

13 The many programmes that we have put in place such as the Raffles Academy for Talent Development, the Raffles Leadership Programme, which is a boarding programme for local students, and the Overseas Immersion Programme which Year 3 students participate in help hone individual strengths and passions. Service-learning projects, self-initiated community projects and expeditions abroad enhance our students’ empathy and connection with communities within and outside of Singapore.

14 Rafflesians are certainly going places. More than 250 of our graduating cohort were offered places in top US universities last year. Over 60 had offers from Oxford and Cambridge, and close to 440 were offered admissions to the London universities. The Scholarship lists are just out: 39 out of the 84 PSC scholarships awarded this year went to Rafflesians. This is close to 50% and the largest number of PSC scholarships we have had so far.

15 3 out of the 6 SAF Overseas Scholarships went to Rafflesians Jerik Mok, Chua Sheng Hao and Jamie Lee. These boys were active in their secondary years in RI, in NCC, waterpolo and track and field, and moved to other pursuits like canoeing, Students’ Council and Youth Flying Club in their JC years. 2 out of the 3 Singapore Police Force Overseas Scholarships went to Rafflesians, Jonathan Auyong and Justin Ong who both spent six years in RI.

16 We took the lion’s share of the other top scholarships this year: 7 Foreign Service scholarships, 4 EDB scholarships, 6 GIC scholarships, 8 DSTA scholarships and 18 A-Star scholarships. We have two Presidents’ Scholars -: Jonathan Au Yong and Alex Woon. Jonathan, who led an ultra active life in his six years in RI, will be reading Ethics, Politics & Economics at Yale while Alex, who spent his secondary years in Belgium, will be reading Law at Cambridge. This brings the number of President’s Scholars RI has produced since 1965 to 79.

17 Here is another piece of information that may delight or worry you. The medical faculty at NUS takes in 260 freshmen a year – 114 places went to Rafflesians this year. The law faculty at NUS takes in 240 students each year. Rafflesians took up 133 places. This means that if you are ill or in trouble with the law, there is a one in two chance of you encountering a Rafflesian doctor or lawyer. You would want to know that we had done a good job educating them.

18 As a merged institution, we are setting our sights on international benchmarking as well as pushing our students to spar in a bigger arena. We launched the Raffles Science Hub last year with its suite of research labs and programmes centred on specialized areas such as photonics and materials Science. This year, the Humanities Hub took shape to provide video-conferencing facilities and customized space to develop talents and interest in History, Literature and Geography. We are also working on a global alliance among top schools across the continents (in countries such as Denmark, Korea, Taiwan, the US, France and England) to bring together bright young minds to work on global projects in annual symposiums to be hosted by one school each year.

19 The Rafflesian spirit of enterprise grows stronger by the day. And it will grow even stronger as we begin to reconnect and draw past generations of Rafflesians to build the RI of the future. There are many in the Rafflesian community who are eager to help redefine education at Raffles. I must first thank our staff for their devotion to the cause at Raffles, to educate students of integrity and fortitude. I thank our parent volunteers and the RPA for being always there for us, be it at fundraising or outreach events such as Open House, I thank the Board of Governors for being our pillar of strength and for being so supportive in all our ventures. To all Rafflesians, past and present – thank you for keeping faith with us and for reminding us of what Raffles must stand for.

20 RI was not built in a day. Generations of principals and headmasters, such as Mr Eugene Wijeysinghe and Mr Rudy Mosbergen who are here today, have devoted themselves, to shaping its ethos and mission. To all of them, we owe a debt of gratitude. And we will build on the foundation that they have laid.

21 The word “auspicium” in our motto is derived from the word “auspex” which refers to the ancient art of foretelling the future from the flight of birds. From its inception, Raffles Institution is meant to be an education hub that draws together those who will have influence on the land to equip them to serve their community better. Auspicium Melioris Aevi. One Raffles, One Vision. One Hope for a Better Age.

Message for the Launch of the 1823 Fund

1 On 8 Aug, Prof Koo Tsai Kee, a Rafflesian & Minister of State for Defence, wrote to The Straits Times about his “secret” hero – his ex-neighbour and senior in RI who never made it to university, even though “he could easily have done so… (as) he was a bright and diligent student”. Prof Koo also referred to how many of his classmates, including himself were poor, and did not have much to augment their education.

2 We hope for history not to repeat itself for the likes of Prof Koo and his classmates. Together with support from alumni members, the board and staff of RI, I am happy to announce the launch of the 1823 Fund. The Fund draws its inspiration from the Founder’s vision of building an inclusive and diverse school, based on the ideals of personal endeavour and social responsibility. It will serve two purposes: to provide needs-based financial aid to deserving students and support pioneering projects that will have a strong community impact, by current students.

3 Our goal is to raise $50 million in ten years. Financial assistance could go to post-PSLE students who might otherwise be deterred from enrolling at RI due to its independent school fees. It could also go towards educational grants and local tertiary grants to Rafflesians who are affected by the economic downturn. The Fund will also enable current students to pioneer projects which will benefit the community and extend the Raffles thought leadership.

4 I am pleased to tell you that some of our alumni have already taken the first step in empowering our students with the gift of flight. Funds have been raised to provide ten RI Scholarships for deserving post PSLE students this year. Each of these RI Scholarship is worth $12 000 spread over 6 years, and will cover what a student needs to pay over and above what MOE provides for those who meet our PSLE aggregate cut-off.

5 Two groups of students will also be able to carry out their dream project this year: one group of sportsmen will put together a 3-day sports camp to reach 200 underprivileged 10 to 12 year-olds from various homes and family service cetnres, teaching them how to play sports like tennis, floorball, tag rugby and handball. The camp will culminate in a mini-Olympics where the children will learn about sportsmanship and put their new sports skills to the best. Best of all, they can take the sports equipment home so that they can continue playing the sport after the end of the camp.

6 Another group of social advocates will be knocking on the doors of one and two-room flats in Ang Mo Kio as part of a health mapping exercise. They’re visiting low-income families with a view to conducting health screening and raising awareness of chronic illness and heart disease. The grant they’ve applied for will be used to provide needy residents with a small food token that introduces them to healthier food choices.

7 The 1823 Fund is about reconnecting our alumni to build and invest in the future of RI. We are excited about its mission to make a real impact and hope that all of you will join hands and heart with us, to accomplish this goal..