RI OLDBOY: RAFFLES INSTITUTION IS NO LONGER THE INCLUSIVE SCHOOL I WAS ONCE PROUD OF

Dear Editors,

As a former RI alumni, I am not even sure why people think RI is a good school today. RI for years had ceased to be a great school. It is now at best, only an average school.

For years, RI’s key strategy was to simply bank on its existing reputation as an elite school, attract the brightest students of Singapore and let nature take its natural course. It’s quite hard for a school to perform badly if nearly all its intake students are extremely bright to begin with.

As proud as I am of my former alma mater, I do not think RI can produce the kind of results it did if it took in students from the Normal Academic and Normal Technical streams, or Express students with less stellar PSLE scores. RI can only be RI if the bulk of its students had PSLE score 250 and above. Similarly, top JCs like RJCs will immediately cease to produce top students if it took in a cohort of the calibre like Yishun JC or Innova JC. Hence, I do not subscribe to the belief that an education at a top elite school like RI or RJC will produce better results because their teaching methods or teachers are better.

Top schools like RI, RGS, MGS, Chinese High, are what they are today because they get only the best students, and not because they can bring out the best in the students. Government schools that go autonomous also get to kick out the weakest and most challenging students in their schools – the Normal Technical.

More and more schools in Singapore are gravitating towards the RI elite model because they don’t have any real plans to help the disadvantaged students or help bring out the best in average students. It is far easier to bank on students who are already very smart and motivated. One huge sense of accomplishment of an elite school is in its ability to exclude academically weaker students.

The only advantages today of joining an elite school is to network with students from well-to-do background, and not having to put up with disruptive or unmotivated classmates, which are in far greater numbers in the government schools.

That’s why many of us from the old RI feel very disconnected from RI today. It’s because the focus of our school now is primarily to work with students who are already good, and not with help weaker or average students to excel.

I dare say it’s the same for the old alumni of many “elite” schools of old, when they used to be inclusive of weaker students. Today, they are all proud to say that they don’t accept/welcome weaker students anymore.

Old RI Boy

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