Education in Singapore - Colonial Era

  • An Introduction

    Singapore’s colonial educational history is characterized by ‘benign neglect, ad hoc policy making and indifference to consequences’. The educational goal then is not for social progress, but to make the social structure more efficient. Many educational policy ideas surfaced, especially post-war, but none were to be rigorously implemented till we achieved self-governance in 1959.
  • Singapore Institution (Raffles Institution)

    Singapore Institution (Raffles Institution)
    The first school in Singapore, Singapore Institution (later renamed Raffles Institution), was set up by Sir Stanford Rafffles "to educate the sons of the higher order of natives and others, to afford the means of instruction in the native languages to such of the Company's servants and others they may desire it, to collect the scattered literature and tradition of the country..." Raffles secured a grant from the East India Company. RI was not sponsored by the colonial government.
  • Singapore becomes a British Colony

    Singapore becomes a British Colony
    The British now held sovereignty over the island, starting from 1824.
  • Malay Education

    Malay Education
    The British government funded Malay education and encouraged it by providing it for free. The British felt that the young Malay children should spend more time learning their own mother tongue and thus did not teach English. Malay Education centered on the teaching of fishing skills so as to improve the fishery in Singapore.
  • Indian Education

    Indian Education
    Most Indian schools were small private schools. Like Chinese and Malay schools, most Indian schools were primary schools. Tamil and other native Indian tongues were taught in such schools.
  • English Schools

    English Schools
    English schools opened to all children on fee-paying basis and were supported by private enterprises and the government alike. The government eventually starte dto manage and finance some schools.
  • Chinese Education

    Chinese Education
    The Chinese schools were entirely funded and set-up by private organisations, such as the Singapore Hokkien Huay Kuan. The Chinese community ran their own schools, employing China-born teachers and using textbooks imported from China. Chinese communism/nationalism came to a height in the late 1900s and forced the British government to re-examine their educational policy in an attempt to kerb communism/nationalism as the Chinese students were very loyal to China. e.g.Taonan, Chinese High, Aitong
  • Registration of School Ordinance

    Government introduces the Registration of School Ordinance
  • Free Education for All

    Free Education  for All
    After World War II, the British government declared the new policy of providing free primary education to all races.
  • Ten Year Programme

    Ten Year Programme
    In 1947, as part post-war rebuilding schemes, the Ten Years Programme for Education Policy in the Colony of Singapore was conceptualised. It stood on the principals of free primary education for boys and girls of all races, aimed at helping Singapore develop the capacity for self-government.
  • Five Year Supplementary Plan

    Five Year Supplementary Plan
    A Supplementary Five-Year Plan was introduced along with the Ten Year Programme to meet the demands for English schools as English was the main medium of instruction then.
  • Chinese Education All-Party Committee

    Chinese Education All-Party Committee
    Chinese students protested and caused great unrest in 1955, leading to the appointment of an All-Party Committee on Chinese Education in Singapore in 1956. The report emphasized the importance of bilingual education, and inter-mingling of students from different language medium schools.
  • White Paper

    White Paper
    A White Paper on Education Policy was published, addresing various social issues with educationa and proposing solutions and policies to improve the situation, such as introducing more technical education to equip citizens with skills to make a living.
  • Equality

    A New Education Ordinance emphasising equal treatment in terms of funding, standards and staff qualifications for both Government and Government-aided schools is published.
  • Education Ordinance

    The Regristration of School Ordinance is revised to form the Education Ordinance.