10 Really Old Schools That Shaped Singapore’s History

Old Schools In Singapore: From Being Renamed To Experiencing War, They’ve Seen It All

While Singapore is a relatively young country, our island does have quite a vast bit of history attached to it.

Many of us know of these schools, but the history that accompanies these institutions is less well-known.

We share the history behind 10 of Singapore’s oldest schools.

1. St Margaret’s School

Let’s get started off with a fun fact — St Margaret’s School (SMS) is the oldest girls’ school in Southeast Asia.

As of 2018, SMS is 176 years old, which takes us back to the 1800s.

In 1842, a British missionary by the name of Mrs Maria Dyer was en route to China when she stopped over in Singapore. Mrs Dyer was horrified to witness young girls being trafficked as servants for rich families.

Rather than turn her back on the atrocities the girls were experiencing, Mrs Dyer set out to house and educate these young girls.

Soon after, the school gained a reputation for producing students who were #wifeymaterial, and Chinese men from surrounding regions would turn to the school to find new brides.

Fast forward a few years to 1949, Chinese Girls’ School was renamed St Margaret’s School, after Queen Margaret of Scotland.

2. Raffles Institution

While St Margaret’s is the oldest girl’s school in Singapore, it isn’t the oldest school. Raffles Institution (RI) takes that spot, having been founded in 1823 by Sir Stamford Raffles.

After founding our island in 1819, Raffles was looking to set up a premiere educational institution.

While the school was founded in 1823, construction works and funding issues delayed teaching at the institution until 1834, a long 9 years later.

Prior to its current name, RI was known as Singapore Free School. It was only in 1868 that the school was renamed Raffles Institution.

Since its establishment, RI has had multiple notable alumni, including Singapore’s first two presidents, and many other politicians.

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