This article may contain an excessive amount of intricate detail that may interest only a particular audience.(August 2019)
1 Raffles Institution Lane
|Motto||Auspicium Melioris Aevi (Latin)|
(Hope of a Better Age)
|Founded||5 June 1823|
|Sister school||Raffles Girls' School|
|Chairman||Bey So Khiam |
|Gender||Boys (Year 1-4)|
Mixed (Year 5-6)
|Mascot||Gryphon and eagle|
|Team name||Team Raffles|
|Publication||The Rafflesian Times|
Raffles Institution (RI) is an independent educational institution in Singapore. Founded in 1823, it is the oldest school in the country. It provides secondary education for boys only from Year 1 to Year 4, and pre-university education for both boys and girls in Year 5 and Year 6. Since 2007, RI and its affiliated school Raffles Girls' School have been offering the six-year Raffles Programme, which allows students to skip the Singapore-Cambridge GCE O-Level examinations and proceed to take the Singapore-Cambridge GCE A-Level examinations at the end of Year 6.
RI is notable for having produced 96 President's Scholars, three presidents, two prime ministers, four speakers of Parliament, several Cabinet ministers and Members of Parliament, as well as many chief executive officers of statutory boards, agencies and state-owned companies. Its alumni body, the Old Rafflesians Association (ORA), includes former Prime Ministers Lee Kuan Yew and Goh Chok Tong, as well as former Presidents Yusof Ishak, Benjamin Sheares and Wee Kim Wee.
RI has one of the highest admission rates to the elite universities of the world such as the Ivy League and Oxbridge. It had the highest number of admissions to the University of Cambridge, with 48 students receiving offers in the 2022 admissions cycle, while 52 were accepted for Oxford and Cambridge combined in 2021, and 77 in 2022 (2nd highest of all schools).
RI was founded by Stamford Raffles, who proposed the establishment of "the Institution" or "Singapore Institution" at a meeting he convened on 1 April 1823. Raffles wanted to establish a college for the people of Singapore since the founding of the colony, and wrote on 12 January 1823 that a site for a planned college had been selected. His intention was to provide education for the children of local leaders in the new British colony of Singapore as well as the company's employees and others who wished to learn the local languages. Another objective was to "collect the scattered literature and traditions of the country" so that the most important may be published and circulated. Raffles referred to the plan as his "last public act"; by setting up the Institution, he hoped it that it could, through its generations of alumni, serve as "the means of civilising and bettering the conditions of millions" beyond Singapore. Those involved in the plan for the Institution included Reverend Robert Morrison, Sophia Raffles, William Farquhar, and William Marsden. It was initially suggested that the Institution should merge with the Anglo-Chinese College founded by Morrison in Malacca, but this plan did not materialise. Raffles contributed S$2,000, secured a grant of S$4,000 from the British East India Company and, together with subscriptions from other individuals, raised funds totalling S$17,495 for the project. He drafted the curriculum, and set up the structure for the board of trustees that included William Wilberforce.
The original building of RI was sited on Bras Basah Road and it was designed by engineer Philip Jackson. Raffles laid the foundation stone of the building on 5 June 1823, a few days before he left Singapore for the last time on 9 June. No classes were held while the building was under construction, but the project stalled and the building was left unfinished for some time. Raffles' vision was also not shared by John Crawfurd, the British Resident of Singapore, who felt the scale of the project excessive, and that the government should focus its efforts on elementary education instead. In 1835, a group of European merchants raised money for the Raffles Monument Fund to commemorate Raffles' contribution to Singapore, and proposed that it should be used to complete the Institution. George Drumgoole Coleman was then hired to finish and extend the original building by Jackson.
On 1 August 1834, Reverend F. J. Darrah opened the Singapore Free School with 46 boys, which quickly grew to nearly 80. When the building for the Institution was completed in 1837, the school applied to occupy the building, a proposal the trustees of the Institution accepted. The Singapore Free School moved into the building in December 1837, and became the Institution Free School. It was, however, established as an elementary school rather than the college that Raffles had initially intended. Originally the school offered classes in Malay, Chinese and English, but the Malay classes soon closed in 1842 due to low enrolment, and it would eventually become an English-medium school. In May 1839, the first wing extension was completed, and the second at the end of 1841. In 1856, the Singapore Institution Free School was renamed Singapore Institution.
In the 1860s, the school gradually turned into a high school. In 1868, the school was renamed Raffles Institution in honour of its founder. The most significant headmasters of the period were J. B. Bayley and R. W. Hullett, who oversaw the transition and ran the school for a cumulative period of 50 years.
The school is Singapore's first institution to enrol girls, with 11 pupils accepted in 1844. In 1879, the girls' wing of the school was established as a separate but affiliated school, Raffles Girls' School.
In March 1972, the school moved to Grange Road. The old building was demolished and replaced by Raffles City Shopping Centre. The Bras Basah campus's library building is featured on the S$2 paper and polymer note in Singapore currency.
Raffles Junior College
In 1982, Raffles Junior College (RJC) was established at Paterson Road to take over the school's burgeoning pre-university enrolment. It subsequently moved to Mount Sinai Road in 1984.
In 2004, the six-year Raffles Programme was offered to Secondary 1 to 3 students. It allows RI students to skip the Singapore-Cambridge GCE Ordinary Level examinations, which students would previously sit for at the end of Year 4. Instead, they move on directly to RJC for Years 5 and 6 and sit for the Singapore-Cambridge GCE Advanced Level examinations at the end of Year 6. This frees up time which students would otherwise spend on preparing for the O Level examinations, allowing them to spend more time engaging in enrichment and co-curricular or passion-driven activities. The curriculum serves to "seek to nurture the best and brightest into men and women of scholarship who will be leaders of distinction, committed to excellence and service in the interest of the community and nation." This subsequently led to the merging of RI's GEP and Special/Express streams to form a single Raffles Programme stream, and the establishment of its in-house academic talent development programme, Raffles Academy, catering to exceptionally gifted students via subject-specific pullout classes from Year 3 onwards, in 2007.
In 2005, RJC, along with Hwa Chong Junior College, became one of the first junior colleges in Singapore to attain independent status. RJC moved to its new Bishan campus adjacent to RI at the start of the 2005 school year, after attaining independent status and becoming the first pre-university institution in Singapore to be awarded the School Excellence Award.
In 2009, RI and RJC re-integrated to form a single institution under the name "Raffles Institution" to facilitate the running of the Raffles Programme and better align processes and curriculum.
School identity and culture
The five houses, three of them named after former headmasters, are Bayley, Buckley, Hullett, Moor and Morrison, represented by the colours yellow, green, black, red and blue respectively.
- ● C. B. Buckley was the Secretary to the Board of Trustees of Raffles Institution.
● J. B. Bayley was a Headmaster who "raised Raffles Institution to a large and flourishing establishment", as recorded by the board of trustees.
- ● J. H. Moor was the first Headmaster of the school, whose 4th great-grandson is Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada.
- ● Reverend Robert Morrison was the co-founder of Raffles Institution.
- ● R.W. Hullett was Raffles Institution's longest-serving Headmaster (31 years).
Year 1 students are sorted into houses by class. In the early years of RI's history, there were ten houses, including a sixth Philips house (purple), later disbanded. House allocations used to be student-based, instead of class-based. Each House is led by a House Captain, a Year 4 student, who carries out his role along with the respective House Committee. The Houses participate in inter-house tournaments and activities, notably including the annual Inter-House Sports Carnival, Dramafeste and the Inter-House Debate tournament, with points earned from each activity contributing to the House Championship which is awarded at the end of the school year.
Students of the college section were divided into five Houses, the name of which is an amalgamation of its counterparts in RI and RGS:
The school uniform from Years 1 to 4 is all-white, including a white short-sleeved shirt with the school badge at the top-right corner of the shirt pocket. Lower secondary students (Years 1 and 2) wear white short trousers and white socks. From Year 3 onwards, students may continue in short pants or opt for white long trousers. Shoes are white-based for all students, with the exception of laces, which must be fully white. Year 3 and 4 prefects must wear formal black shoes, except for Physical Education lessons, where they are required to change into appropriate shoes. School ties are worn only for formal occasions. Teachers wear a formal gown for special occasions. The uniform for male students in Years 5 and 6 male are identical to the uniforms worn by students in Years 3 and 4. The uniform for female students in Years 5 and 6 consist of a white blouse and a dark green pleated skirt.
In his memoir The Singapore Story, Lee Kuan Yew mentioned that he was caned by the headmaster D. W. McLeod for chronic tardiness when he attended RI in the 1930s. In 1956, a former RI prefect also wrote that during his time there, "boys were caned on their bottoms for even winking at the girls. We did have very good discipline in our time and the boys became good citizens, lawyers, doctors, etc."
Curriculum and student activities
This section needs additional citations for verification. (October 2016)
Since 2007, the school has offered the six-year Integrated Programme, which allows students to bypass the Singapore-Cambridge GCE Ordinary Level examinations and take the Singapore-Cambridge GCE Advanced Level examinations at the end of Year 6. Known within the Raffles schools as the Raffles Programme, it is offered jointly with Raffles Girls' School.
Year 1 Orientation Camp
The new intake of Year 1 students go through a 3-day orientation camp, involving understanding the school's culture and knowing the campus grounds, and various activities to facilitate class bonding, leadership development, etc. Year 4 Peer Support Leaders and the Head and Deputy head prefects guide them through this camp and the rest of the orientation period. At the end of the camp, the first-year students receive their school badges in the Junior Rafflesian Investiture Ceremony (JRIC), which occurs on the Friday of the Orientation Week.
Raffles Leadership Programme
The Raffles Leadership Programme is an initiative of the Leadership Development Department, aimed at preparing students to take on positions of leadership in school and in life. All Year 3 pupils go through the programme which includes going through the Leadership Challenge Workshop and taking the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Instrument. It also features a one-term residential component at RI Boarding. The boarding programme started as a trial in 2008 and has now become a full-cohort programme.
Under the Raffles Leadership Programme, Year 3 pupils also get to take part in a ten-week residential programme in RI Boarding to learn about independent living skills. The boarding programme was shortened to a seven-week programme in 2019.
Students' Council (Year 5-6)
The Students' Council of the Years 5-6 section is divided into a total of eight departments, namely the Welfare Department, the Communications Department, the CCA Department and five House Directorates, which form the EXCO for each of the five houses. Each councillor also takes up one or two of the six functions, which are college events organised by the council: National Day, Teachers' Day, Grad Night, Open House, Orientation and Council Camp. Members of the Students' Council are selected through a college-wide election process. Each batch undergoes a rigorous selection process, which culminates in the Council Investiture. The Students' Council is headed by a President, who is assisted by his/her executive committee consisting of two vice-presidents, two Secretaries, the three Heads of Departments and the five House Captains. As of May 2022, the school is served by the 42nd batch of Student Councillors.
Year 1-4 (Secondary School section)
CCAs are categorised as either core or merit CCAs. Core CCAs comprise all sports, uniformed groups and performing arts, as well as Raffles Debaters while merit CCAs consist of all other clubs and societies. Every student of the school takes up at least one core CCA. Merit CCAs are optional, but students are encouraged to take up at least one merit CCA to supplement their core CCA. Certain merit CCAs, such as the Infocomm Club, however, may substitute for a core CCA instead.
The school's sports teams and uniformed groups have earned top places in many national inter-school competitions, doing well in Red Cross Youth, rugby, National Cadet Corps, sailing, floorball, Boys' Brigade, and cross-country running, among others.
Year 5-6 (Junior College Section)
The Year 5-6 section offers over 70 CCAs, including sports, performing arts, and clubs and societies. Unlike in the first four years of the Raffles Programme, no distinction is made between core and merit CCAs. Students may offer up to two CCAs, no more than one of which may be a sports or performing arts group.
Teams from RI performed well nationally in 2011, with the performing arts groups clinching 15 Golds (including nine with honours) and five Silvers at the biennial Singapore Youth Festival Central Judging and the sports teams winning 32 championship titles as well as 24 Silvers and 11 Bronzes at the National Interschools Sports Championships. The school's clubs and societies have also performed excellently in their various national competitions, with Raffles Debaters clinching championship titles and the History and Strategic Affairs Society clinching best school delegation awards at international Model United Nations conferences.
The college community is served by the Raffles Press, the school's journalism society, which publishes its flagship online student newspaper Word of Mouth. The newspaper includes features, op-ed columns, sports reports and concert reviews. In addition, all staff and most students also receive a copy of the Rafflesian Times, the school's official magazine, from the Communications Department.
The journalism society regularly publishes articles dealing with daily school life, recent assemblies and events as well as wider national issues including Singapore's golden jubilee (SG50) and the 2015 Southeast Asian haze.
In 2015, students from the school also started an unofficial satirical publication, The Waffle Press, which pokes fun at school events and examinations.
Raffles Institution Boarding is housed in a boarding complex consisting of five blocks. These are named after the five Houses; Bayley, Buckley, Hullett, Moor and Morrison. Each block, apart from the new Hullett block, can accommodate 90 pupils. All blocks have their own staff, and the boarding complex is overseen by several Boarding Mentors.
The foundation stone of the Boarding Complex was laid by Lee Kuan Yew on 25 March 1994. The first batch of boarders moved into the Complex in 1996. During the upgrading works in 2006, the former Moor block was demolished to make way for a 13-storey twin tower hostel, the Hullett block, completed in July 2007, and the former Hullett block in turn renamed Moor. The three blocks of Buckley, Moor and Bayley houses boys enrolling in Raffles Leadership Programme, whereas Morrison block catered to girls previously.
The Raffles Institution Year 1 - 4 campus consists of six main blocks on 18.65 hectares of land.
Yusof Ishak Block (Former Admin Block)
The main building is the Yusof Ishak Block, comprising offices, staff rooms, lecture theatres, study areas and computer labs, as well the Main Atrium. It houses the Year 1-4 General Office and the Raffles Archives & Museum. Major upgrading works were completed in early 2007.
The Science Hub, opened in 2008, includes facilities for specialised research such as Xploratory-Labs; as well as Chemistry, Physics and Biology labs. It also houses the Discovery Labs, a Laser Animation/Technology Studio, the Materials Science Lab and the Raffles Academy Home Room. It is connected to the Yusof Ishak Block.
Hullett Memorial Library / Shaw Foundation Dining Hall
The Hullett Memorial Library (HML) stands between the Sheares Block and ArtSpace. Co-founded by Lim Boon Keng and Song Ong Siang, it was named after RI's longest-serving Headmaster, Richmond William Hullett, in 1923. The library's official founding (even though a library and museum, from which the National Museum originated, had existed for decades prior to 1923) also marked the centenary of the founding of the institution. The library traces its roots to the founding of RI, making it the oldest library in Singapore. The origins of Singapore's National Library lie in the HML.
The school's gymnasium underwent renovation in 2010, and was used as a training venue for gymnasts during the 2010 Summer Youth Olympics, together with that in the Year 5-6 campus. The school also has two tennis courts, two basketball courts, two squash courts, and two cricket nets.
Following the re-integration with Raffles Junior College from 2009, more sports facilities are available. Floorball, table tennis, judo and gymnastics are RI sports now able to use the Year 5-6 Campus facilities.
The campus hosts stray cats, with the earliest recorded ones dating to 2013. Significantly, one named Teddy has been living on campus since before 2013, cared for by successive batches of students who take care of his food and medical needs. Teddy has amassed a significant student following on social media, with the largest extant Instagram page @rafflesteddy having over 700 posts and 4,400 followers as of October 2023, having run continuously since March 2020. Past accounts include @teddy_says_meow and @rjcteddy and others. 
- Alfian Sa'at, writer, poet and playwright
- Abdul Ghani Abdul Hamid, writer, poet and artist
- Chandran Nair, writer, poet and artist
- Ayden Sng, actor, host and musician
- Robert Kuok, Malaysian billionaire
- Lim Boon Keng, philanthropist and co-founder of OCBC Bank and Singapore Chinese Girls' School
- Peter Lim, billionaire and owner of Valencia CF
- Andrew Ng, British-American computer scientist, former chief scientist at Baidu, and co-founder of Coursera
- Andy Ong, entrepreneur, writer and property investor
- Min-Liang Tan, founder of tech company Razer Inc.
- Yusof Ishak, 1st President of Singapore
- Benjamin Sheares, 2nd President of Singapore
- Wee Kim Wee, 4th President of Singapore
- Lee Kuan Yew, 1st Prime Minister of Singapore
- Goh Chok Tong, 2nd Prime Minister of Singapore
- David Marshall, 1st Chief Minister of Singapore
- Lim Yew Hock, 2nd Chief Minister of Singapore
- Edmund W. Barker, 2nd Speaker of Parliament
- Abdullah Tarmugi, 7th Speaker of Parliament
- Tan Chuan Jin, 10th Speaker of Parliament
- Current Cabinet ministers
- Heng Swee Keat, Deputy Prime Minister of Singapore
- K. Shanmugam, Minister for Law and Minister for Home Affairs
- Chan Chun Sing, Minister for Education and Minister-in-charge of the Public Service
- Ong Ye Kung, Minister for Health
- Desmond Lee, Minister for National Development
- People's Action Party Members of Parliament (MPs)
- Saktiandi Supaat, MP for Bishan–Toa Payoh GRC
- Seah Kian Peng, MP for Marine Parade GRC
- Zaqy Mohamad, MP for Marsiling–Yew Tee GRC
- Workers' Party Members of Parliament (MPs)
- Progress Singapore Party politicians
- Tan Cheng Bock, founder and leader of the Progress Singapore Party
- Leong Mun Wai, non-constituency MP
- Former politicians
- Ahmad Mattar, former Cabinet minister
- Howe Yoon Chong, former Cabinet minister
- S. Jayakumar, former Cabinet minister
- Lee Yock Suan, former Cabinet minister
- Lim Hng Kiang, former Cabinet minister
- Raymond Lim, former Cabinet minister
- Othman Wok, former Cabinet minister
- S. Rajaratnam, former Cabinet minister
- Balaji Sadasivan, former People's Action Party MP for Ang Mo Kio GRC
- Png Eng Huat, former Workers' Party MP for Hougang SMC
- Viswa Sadasivan, former Nominated MP
- Non-Singaporean politicians
- Abdul Razak Hussein, 2nd Prime Minister of Malaysia
- Aziz Ishak, Malaysian politician
- Michael Chan, British politician
- Sardon Haji Jubir, Malaysian politician
- Tan Cheng Lock, Malaysian politician
- Tony Pua, Malaysian politician
- Ong Kian Ming, Malaysian politician
- Emil Elestianto Dardak, Indonesian politician
- Ng Jui Ping, 2nd Chief of Defence
- Bey Soo Khiang, 3rd Chief of Defence
- Lim Chuan Poh, 4th Chief of Defence
- Perry Lim, 9th Chief of Defence
- Kirpa Ram Vij, former Director, General Staff of the Singapore Armed Forces
- Ong Teck Chin, former principal of Anglo-Chinese School (Independent)
- Wong Siew Hoong, former Director-General of the Ministry of Education and headmaster of RI
- T. S. Sinnathuray, Supreme Court judge
- Choor Singh, Supreme Court judge
- Ahmad Mohamed Ibrahim, 1st Attorney-General of Singapore
- Walter Woon, 5th Attorney-General of Singapore
- Charles Gregory Pestana, usher of the Second Magistrate's Court.
- Foreign affairs
- Albert Chua, former Permanent Representative of Singapore to the United Nations
- Tommy Koh, former Permanent Representative of Singapore to the United Nations
- Ambat Ravi S Menon, Managing Director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore
- Tee Tua Ba, former Commissioner of Police
- Andreas Emil Lange, former Private Secretary to Charles Brooke, Rajah of Sarawak and the son of Mads Johansen Lange and Nyai Kenyer a princess of Bali
- Au-Yeong Pak Kuan, former national footballer
- Daphne Chia, former national rhythmic gymnastics athlete, competed at the 2014 Commonwealth Games
- Choo Seng Quee, famed national football coach in the 1970s
- Quah Kim Song, former national footballer
- Soh Rui Yong, two-time SEA Games Marathon Champion and Singapore national record holder at 5,000m, 10,000m, Half Marathon and Marathon
- Cherie Tan, Bowling World Champion, six-time SEA Games Gold Medalist, two-time Asian Games Gold medalist
- Kong Hee, founder and pastor of City Harvest Church
- Shi Ming Yi, Buddhist monk and former chief executive officer of Ren Ci Hospital and Medicare Centre
- Subhas Anandan, Singaporean criminal lawyer
- Prince Azim of Brunei
- Lim Bo Seng, Singapore-based Chinese resistance fighter during World War II
- T. A. Sinnathuray, Malaysian professor of obstetrics and gynaecology
- Robert M. Solomon, Bishop of the Methodist Church in Singapore
- Leaena Tambyah, Singaporean social worker and founder of the first school for children with multiple disabilities in Singapore
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