By Abigail Ang (18S06B) and Soh Ying Qi (18A01C)
The current principal of Raffles Institution, Mr Chan Poh Meng, will be stepping down on December 31st 2017. His post will be filled by Mr Frederick Yeo, who is now serving as the principal of Crest Secondary School, and who was the deputy headmaster of Raffles Institution (before its reintegration with RJC) in 2006.
Mr Chan announced his departure to the Year 5 batch during today’s morning assembly, saying that “it’s time to end this season and move into a new season of my life with all the energy that I have, and all the interests that I have.” Since first receiving his post in 2013 (which he described today as a moment of “personal joy”), he has continued to serve the school, even persevering through chemotherapy after his cancer diagnosis in 2014.
Members of the public may remember his remarks at the 2015 Founder’s Day ceremony, when he stated that Raffles Institution “has become a middle-class school”. His public acknowledgment of the issue of elitism was a move that made the news. His efforts to give students a voice in school management were also evident through the dialogues he participated in with his fellow deputy and vice-principals.
“A long period of conditioning means that we often fail to see elitism even when it is staring at us in the face.”
– Mr Chan Poh Meng, speaking at the 2015 Founder’s Day ceremony
Mr Chan also offered words of praise to his successor at the assembly, citing his experience in the social sector (having been specially selected to attend a milestone leadership programme by the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre) and as a member of the panel of advisors to the Youth Courts in 2016 and 2017. His work with disadvantaged youths would, Mr Chan asserted, help him “add a certain rigour to Raffles Institution’s student development.”
Who, then, is Mr Frederick Yeo? The current principal of Crest Secondary School has served there since it received its first intake of students in 2013. The school is Singapore’s first specialised school for Normal (Technical) students. During his tenure, Mr Yeo has had to battle negative perceptions of the N(T) stream and has implemented many policies to help his students pursue their academic interests, as well as improve their vocational and leadership skills. For example, Mr Yeo requested help from the Scouts unit in Raffles Institution in setting up another unit in Crest Secondary. Since 2012, some of our senior Scouts have been going down to Crest Secondary School to conduct sessions for the Scouts unit there.
Of Mr Yeo’s experience at Crest, Mr Chan stated that “Mr Yeo has distinguished himself as the one who pioneered the school, and it is an independent school. So in some ways, it is quite similar in form and structure, perhaps, to Raffles Institution.” He also expressed confidence in his successor’s vision for RI: “Given Mr Yeo’s disposition, wealth of experience and very extensive networks, I’m very, very sure: together with me, all of us in Raffles Institution will look forward to him heading this school and build[ing] upon the rich traditions and strengths of the school.”
Given his experience in the social sector, Mr Yeo may aim for Rafflesians to gain a broader perspective of society and focus more on giving back to the community. All this is mere speculation, however, until Mr Yeo announces his plans and direction for the school.
In the meantime, we wish Mr Chan Poh Meng a fruitful retirement, and look forward to welcoming our next principal to the RI community.
“With his leadership, [all of us will] further enrich the diversity of Raffles Institution, and of course, in the end [serve] the needs of the Raffles community and society at large.”
– Mr Chan Poh Meng, speaking at today’s assembly
To read a short note of appreciation from Mr Chan, please visit Stamford.
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