Raffles Academy

Raffles Institution

Raffles Institution is an independent boys' secondary school in Singapore. Founded in 1823 as Singapore Institution by Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, it was consistently ranked as one of the top secondary schools in Singapore in the now-defunct official school rankings released by the Ministry of Education. RI was also recognised for excellence in both education processes and outcomes, and was awarded the pinnacle award of MOE's Masterplan of Awards, the School Excellence Award.

Raffles Institution offers the Integrated Programme, also known as the Raffles Programme (RP), together with Raffles Girls' School (Secondary) and Raffles Junior College. It also offers an internal Gifted Education Programme (GEP/RP), but the GEP stream recently merged with the Special/Express Stream into a single stream in 2007. In 2007, the current batch of Secondary 3 students has also been merged into a single stream. A new programme, the Raffles Academy, was also introduced.

The current Headmaster of Raffles Institution is Bob Koh Chin Nguang, who took up the post after previous Headmaster Wong Siew Hoong left the school at the end of 2004. The Senior Deputy Headmaster is S. Magendiran, the Deputy Headmaster (Development) is Kenneth Kwok, and the Deputy Headmistress (Programmes) is Tan Siok Mui.

A proposed merger with Raffles Junior College has also been announced and is currently awaiting approval from MOE. If successful, Raffles Institution and Raffles Junior College will come together to form single institution by 2009. In addition, a common Board of Governors for Raffles Institution and Raffles Junior College will be implemented with effect from June 2008.


Institution Anthem

Raffles Institution went for more than a century without having a song to call its own. The Institution Anthem, Auspicium Melioris Ævi, was written by E.W. Jesudason, the Headmaster from 1963 to 1966. Despite references to Prometheus and God in the Institution Anthem, the school is secular. The inclusion of Prometheus is due to the literary allusion to passing the torch, signifying the importance of education while 'God' in this context is a historical legacy of the school's British roots. The anthem is in the key of D Major.

Auspicium Melioris Ævi

When Stamford Raffles held the torch

That cast Promethean flame

We faced the challenge of the day

To give our school a name

The eagle eye and gryphon strength

They led us to the fore

To reign supreme in every sphere

The Sons of Singapore

Come heed the call Rafflesians all

And let our hearts be stirring

We’ll do our best whate’er the test

And keep our colours flying

Let comradeship and fervent hope

With one voice make us pray

Auspicium Melioris Ævi

With God to guide the way

Coat of arms

The school badge is a modified version of the Raffles coat of arms – granted permission for use by his family. This replaces the original gold portion of the field with erminois, and the purpure of the gryphon crest with gules .

The gryphon on the crest is a stately creature, majestic and strong, symbolising stability and success for the school. The gryphon's lower lion half symbolises the school's roots in Singapore. The double-headed eagle on the shield signifies the looking back onto the past and onto the future, symbolizing Raffles Institution's tradition of drawing strength and experience from the past in order to excel in the future. This also indicates universality - looking to the East as well as the West.

The school motto, "Auspicium Melioris Ævi", is displayed black on gold at the base of the shield. While the school's official translation is "Hope of a Better Age", this is a mistranslation. Auspicium primarily means an augury or auspice, which is a divinatory omen derived by an augur from watching the flight of birds. It may, in a transferative sense, mean omen, token or sign, but not hope. It is also the motto of the Order of St Michael and St George.


Raffles Institution has received many awards as recognition for its achievements over the years. Most notably, RI was awarded the School Excellence Award in 2004, the pinnacle in the MOE Masterplan of Awards. The awards include the following.

  • Singapore Quality Class (2004)
  • National Arts Education Gold Award (2004)
  • Cherish Gold Award (2004)
  • Partners Outstanding Award (2004)
  • Awards in the MOE's masterplan
    • School Excellence Award (2004-2008)
    • School Distinction Award (2004-2008)
    • Best Practice Awards
      • Aesthetics
      • Physical Fitness
      • Sports
      • Uniformed Groups
    • Outstanding Development Award for Character Development


Founded by Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles on June 5, 1823, Raffles Institution is the oldest school in Singapore. Raffles had secured a grant from the British East India Company, drafted the curriculum and set up the structure for the board of trustees. His goal was to provide a form of education for the new British colony of Singapore, for the sons of the Company's servants and the children of local leaders. The institution was envisaged to be the centre of knowledge of the region. The original campus of Raffles Institution was located along Bras Basah Road, where Raffles City now stands. On the morning of March 10 1972 the school was relocated to Grange Road, and in 1990 it relocated again to its new building location at Bishan in central Singapore. The Bras Basah Campus's library is featured on the $2 paper and polymer bill in the Singapore legal tender. The Grange Road campus is now the MOE Teachers' Network.

Raffles Institution also has an alumni called the Old Rafflesians Association (ORA), noted for its interest and active participation in Singapore's political scene. This includes current Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew and current Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong and three former presidents of Singapore.

Raffles Institution has had a total of 24 headmasters and principals to date.

The history of Raffles Institution is also documented in the book The Eagle Breeds a Gryphon written by a previous headmaster, Eugene Wijeysingha. It has gone through 3 editions. The original edition documents the school's prestigious history till 1985, while the latest covers events up to 2003. The original edition was also not titled "The Eagle Breeds a Gryphon", but the title caught on from the second edition onwards.

Headmasters and Principals of Raffles Institution

  • J.H. Moor 1837-1843
  • R.W. Hullett
  • J.B. Bayley
  • C.B. Buckley
  • C. Phillips 1916 to 1921
  • D.A. Bishop 1922 -
  • E. W. Jesudason 1963-1966
  • Eugene Wijeysingha 1986 to 1994
  • Philip Liau
  • AK Sigamoney
  • Wong Siew Hoong



Lower secondary students wear a white shirt and white shorts. Upper secondary students have the option of wearing long trousers. School ties are to be worn on Mondays, Headmaster's Assemblies and school functions, as well as for prize-presentation ceremonies or special occasions. Shoes are to be 50% white-based, while upper secondary prefects wear black shoes. Furthermore, shoes cannot have any flashy or gaudy designs and colours. High-cut shoes are not allowed. Socks can be worn lower than the ankles. Students must wear their badges prominently at all times on the top right side (from the wearer's point of view) of their chest pockets. No other accessory should compete for its prominence.

Teachers have a formal gown for special occasions which include Headmaster's Assembly, a time where the Headmaster delivers his termly address.


Raffles Institution is affiliated with Raffles Junior College (RJC), and both campuses are co-housed in Bishan side-by-side and run an open campus concept, where students of both schools can access both campuses. Both schools also share a main gate at Bishan Street 21. Students from Raffles Institution often use the facilities in RJC for various purposes such as PE lessons, CCAs and major lectures. It is also affiliated with Raffles Girls' School (Secondary) (RGS), and the two schools frequently conduct joint programmes and activities, such as concerts and overseas learning journeys.

Orientation camp

Every year, the new intake of Secondary One students go through an orientation camp, which lasts 3 days and 2 nights. The camp was previously held in the Boy Scout campsites in Sarimbun, a forested area near a Singapore Armed Forces Live Firing Area, with the exception of year 2001, but the school has decided to move the camp to the school campus itself from 2005. Secondary Four Peer Support Leaders (PSLs), guide them through this camp, and for the duration of the orientation period. At the end of the camp, the Secondary 1s receive their school badges in the formal Junior Rafflesian Investiture Ceremony (JRIC). The Orientation Camp serves to imbue them with the Rafflesian way of life.

In recent years, the orientations have had a 'tradition' of having a theme in a foreign language. Examples include: Hiringa (2006), Nagarro (2007) and Lasair (2008).

Each batch of students also has their own batch song, which they will pass down to their Secondary 1 juniors as Secondary 4 students. As a result, the Secondary Four and Secondary One students of any year would share the same batch song. The three batch songs are:

OBS camp

At the beginning of every year, the new Secondary Three students undergo a five-day Outward Bound course in Pulau Ubin. After the camp, these students are officially recognised as seniors of the school, and are permitted to wear long pants. This practice used to follow a separate orientation camp for the students, who then attended OBS at a later date.

Prefectorial board

The Raffles Institution Prefectorial Board (RIPB) is split into 4 departments: Welfare, Communications, Human Resource and Discipline. In 2007, a Gryphons Committee was also set up with the tasks of organising match support and re-igniting the Rafflesian Spirit. It is also considered one of the departments of the board. Prefects are nominated by the students and teachers, and after several rounds of interviews, successful candidates are voted into the Prefectorial board by the school population, after about a month of campaigning.

In addition to basic duties such as maintaining order in the school, the Board also organises many events and activities, ranging from interests groups to formal occasions and Rafflesian Spotlight, an intra-school performing arts competition. The Board also organizes community involvement programmes, so as to help the less fortunate members of both the public and the school. For example, in 2005, the Board had raised S$40,000 to purchase a dedicated van for use by the handicapped at a Voluntary Welfare Organization, as well as co-organizing a Guinness record breaking attempt with Dr. William Tan, in aid of the Cancer Foundation.

The Departments of the RIPB are Welfare, Human Resource, Communications, Discipline, and the Gryphon's Committee.

Class Executive Committee (CEC)

Every class in Raffles Institution has its own Class Executive Committee (CEC). The CEC comprises 3 students, the Monitor, Assistant Monitor (or Secretary) and the Treasurer. Often, students vote for classmates to take up these positions, but some Form Teachers may choose to select students themselves.

The CEC Council is made up of representatives from each level. It works closely with RIPB to organize events. It also organizes inter-class events, such as the inter-class classroom decoration competition and the inter-class soccer tournament.


The House system was initiated by headmaster D.A. Bishop in 1922, so as to provide intra-school sporting competitions. The five houses of Raffles, three of which are named after former headmasters, are Moor, Buckley, Hullett, Bayley and Morrison, represented by the colours red, green, black, yellow and blue respectively.

  • J.H. Moor was the first Headmaster of the school
  • R.W. Hullett was the Raffles Institution's longest-serving headmaster and one of the most respected.
  • J.B. Bayley was a headmaster regarded to have "raised Raffles Institution to a large and flourishing establishment (as recorded by the Board of Trustees).
  • Reverend Robert Morrison was the co-founder of Raffles Institution.
  • C.B. Buckley was the Secretary to the Board of Trustees of Raffles Institution.

Secondary One students are sorted into houses by class, so as to encourage class bonding and comradeship. The houses determine all teams in intramural sports and competitions, and the results from these competitions are summed up in a yearly point system. The house system fosters the competitive spirit and a sense of belonging in Rafflesians.

In the early years of RI's history, there used to be a sixth Philips house (purple). It was later disbanded. Also, house allocations used to be student-wise, instead of class-wise.

The Rafflesian Principle of Honour

The Principle of Honour is as follows:

"In intellectual pursuit, I shall reflect discipline and passion for learning and in personal conduct, I shall live in integrity and regard individuals, groups and the community with kindness and respect, and in so doing, uphold the Rafflesian Principle of Honour."

Every student of Raffles Institution is expected to adhere to this principle of honour and in so doing live up to the Rafflesian standard of moral and academic excellence.

Co-curricular Activities

Raffles Institution has a significant Co-Curricular Activity (CCA) programme, with a total of about fifty CCAs, consisting of sports groups, uniformed groups, musical groups, clubs and societies.

All CCAs are grouped into core and merit CCAs. Core CCAs comprise of all sports, uniformed groups and musical groups, while merit CCAs consist of clubs and societies. Every student of the school is required to take up one core CCA, although there are a select few with two or more core CCAs. 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 and Raffles Debaters, however, may substitute 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 National Cadet Corps (NCC), Floorball, Red Cross, Boys' Brigade, and cross country among others. The performing arts groups have also done consistently well in the Singapore Youth Festival Central Judging, held once every two years, while the clubs and societies have won many awards as well.

Student interest groups

In 2004, Student Interest Groups (SIGs) were introduced as a new initiative by the Prefectorial Board. These were defined as interest groups formed by students themselves. However, SIGs are not considered as CCAs and do not receive school funding like CCAs do. Also, students were still required to take up at least one core CCA.

Most of the original SIGs no longer exist, with the exception of a few relatively successful SIGs. One of them is the Raffles Institution Student Entrepreneurship (RI$E) SIG, which has gone on to triumph in nationwide competitions. Another successful SIG is the Raffles Institution Fish SIG. Also operating is the Aviation SIG which won the 1st National Air Championship in November 2005 and November 2006.

School layout and facilities

The Raffles Institution campus consists six main blocks lying on 12 hectares of land originally slated for the construction of Bishan Junior College. The main building is housed in the Administrative Block, which is linked to the Senior Block where some upper secondary classes were located before the renovation works began, the Science Block where the science laboratories and Xploratory-Labs are located, and the canteen, auditorium and hall. Extensive renovations are currently taking place in the school. At present, renovations of the administrative block and senior block are mostly completed. Existing facilities will be upgraded and expanded, such as additional Science Laboratories and a new staff room.

The Junior Block, which was completed in 1997, is currently the second-newest block on campus. It houses 15 Secondary 1 classrooms, 8 Seminar Rooms, 2 Computer Laboratories, an English Studio, 2 Chinese Language Laboratories, an Automation Laboratory, and a classroom known by all as the "Barber Room" in its four storeys. It also has a retractable sun roof which covers the block's atrium.

The Design Centre is home to various facilities. These include the art galleries, art rooms, music keyboard laboratory, and a Macintosh Lab. The gymnasium and lock-ups for the Uniformed Groups are located at the second and third level of the block respectively. Near the Design Centre, there is a small side building, previously used to store construction materials for upgrading, which has now been converted for the use of the Scouts, with the 01 Raffles Scout Troop taking the lower level and the 02 Raffles Scout Troop taking the upper level.

The Design Centre has been officially renamed "ArtSpace" and had its official opening as "ArtSpace", both in 2008.

The newest block in the Raffles Institution premises is the S. Rajaratnam block, a 7-storey block completed in 2006 and is located behind the Junior Block. Currently, Secondary 3, and 4 classes occupy the new block, which is named in memory of the late Mr S. Rajaratnam. This block is connected to RJC and the Junior Block at opposite ends, thus providing a seamless link between Raffles Institution and RJC.

The CCA block houses the canteen, CCA rooms, the Albert Hong Hall (AHH) as well as an auditorium which also serves as a drama theatre and a performing arts centre. 2 squash courts are also located behind the stage in AHH. A new 13-storey, 200-room hostel block now sits on the former Moor Block of the Boarding Complex.

Hullett Memorial Library

The Hullett Memorial Library (HML) is situated between the Junior Block and Design Centre. It was co-founded by Dr Lim Boon Keng and Sir Song Ong Siang and was named after Raffles Institution's longest serving principal, R. W. Hullett in 1923. The Library was also opened to mark the centenary of the founding of the Institution. . That being said, the Library's history traces its roots to the founding of the Institution, thus making her the oldest library in Singapore. In fact, the origins of Singapore's National Library lie in the HML.

With nearly 49,000 books in four different languages (excluding the few books on French, German, and other languages), and around 40 computers with wireless internet access, the HML is one of the most well-equipped secondary school libraries in Singapore. The library employs full-time staff for administrative purposes, and other tasks are performed by the members of the Hullett Memorial Library Club and also parent volunteers. The HML was designed with the era of Sir Stamford Raffles in mind, so the furniture in the library was custom-made, according to the Regency style furniture that was used in Raffles' time.

Sports facilities

Raffles Institution offers many sports facilities, including an Olympic-sized swimming pool.

The former 400-metre track and field has been replaced by a rugby union field and a softball diamond. The last major event held on the track was a Guinness World Record attempt by Dr William Tan, a wheelchair-bound old Rafflesian who embarked on a 24-hour ultramarathon on the 30 and 31 July 2005, and beat the old record of 181.2 kilometres with his 242.8 kilometres. As a result, Raffles Institution is sharing the track and field with Raffles Junior College at the latter's premises.

Raffles Institution has a gymnasium located on the 2nd level of the Design Centre housing the judo dojo, table tennis training area, a gymnastics training area and a rock wall. Behind the Design Centre is the Hong Leong Swimming Pool. The campus also has two tennis courts, two basketball courts, two squash courts and is one of the few schools to have two cricket nets.

There is also an artificial turf commonly known as the "Astroturf" by all in the school. It was used for school assembly in the morning, and later in the day, for hockey training and for individual sports and games. Currently, morning assemblies are held at a new area called the Raffles Square instead of the Astroturf. It is now used regularly by students to play soccer. It is also used during school-organized Soccer Leagues. The newly renovated Astroturf was reopened for use on May 17, 2008.

Boarding school

Raffles Institution has a Boarding Complex consisting of five blocks. These blocks are named after Hullett, Bayley, Buckley, Moor and Morrison. Each block can accommodate 90 pupils and has its own staff, which is overseen by a Boarding Master. The Moor block was demolished to make way for the new twin-tower hostel which was completed in July 2007. while the Hullett block (renamed Moor block) currently caters to girls.

The foundation stone of the Boarding Complex was laid by then Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew on 25 March 1994. The first batch of pioneer boarders first moved into the complex in 1995.

Boarders consist of some local Raffles Institution pupils, scholars from other countries (mostly China and ASEAN countries), as well as pupils from other secondary schools and junior colleges. Boarding traditions include quarterly formal dinners, as well as an orientation programme for newcomers.

IT facilities

The school has six general-purpose computer labs, one music studio with ProdiKeys, one Internet Lab (for the study of LAN connections), and one X-lab, short for Experimental Lab for research in computer studies. Connectivity is supplied to all buildings by the campus LAN, with additional wireless access blanketing most areas such as the Administrative Block, the Hullett Memorial Library (HML) and the S. Rajaratnam Block. Sometimes, teachers may require the use of IT facilities for students in the classroom. Tablet PCs will be supplied by the IT department to facilitate the usage of eLearning in a classroom setting.

Previously, the first week of the second term of the academic year was dedicated to "eLearning". During this week, lessons and materials would be disseminated online at Edulearn for students to study at their own pace and students were not required to attend school. The programme was initiated in 1999 but it has been scrapped with effect from 2006. Instead, eLearning is carried out throughout the year, particularly during Staff Training Days.

Raffles Academy

The Raffles Academy (RA), which was implemented in 2007, is a programme for students with higher capabilities in specific subjects, with a curriculum pitched at a much deeper level as compared to the Raffles Programme. During the respective academic periods, RA students leave their normal classes to join a special pull-out class. Additionally, compulsory extra classes are held once every three weeks on either Tuesday or Thursday. Currently, the subjects available are: literature, history, geography, mathematics, biology, chemistry and physics. Students apply for RA in Secondary 2, and go through tests and interviews before being selected. Selection criteria include a minimum Grade Point Average of 3.60, and an 85th percentile rank in the cohort for the subject in question. At present, the RA programme is only available for upper secondary students, with each student being allowed to take a maximum of two RA subjects. The Academy is managed by the Director of Raffles Academy, Mrs Theresa Lai.

Notable alumni



  • Eugene Wijeysingha et al, (1992), One Man's Vision - Raffles Institution in Focus.
  • Eugene Wijeysingha, (1985), The Eagle Breeds a Gryphon. ISBN 981-00-2054-6
  • MOE Sch Info svc. "Raffles Institution", Ministry of Education, 2006, retrieved November 11, 2006.
  • Raffles Programme. "Raffles Programme - Nurturing the Thinker, Leader and Pioneer", Raffles Family of Schools, 2006, retrieved December 7 2006.
  • Seet, K. K. (1983). A place for the people (pp. 6-16). Singapore: Times Books International.
  • Wijeysingha, E. (1963). A history of Raffles Institution, 1823-1963. Singapore: University Education Press.
  • Makepeace, W., Brooke, G. E., & Braddell, R. St. J. (Eds.). (1991). One hundred years of Singapore. Singapore: Oxford University Press.
  • Ng, S. C. (1991). She is from the East. Singapore: Raffles Institution.

External links

Search another word or see Raffles Academyon Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2015, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature