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Celebrating 30 years at Malcolm Road

2018 marks the 30th year SJI is at our Malcolm Road campus. We celebrate by remembering...

• Becoming an Independent School

Thirty years ago, SJI began functioning as an independent school. There was great excitement and hope about this development in SJI’s history. This is how Bro Kevin Byrne who was Principal in 1988 summed up his thoughts on SJI going independent:

“As the new SJI buildings took shape we concerned ourselves with the renewal of the spirit and thrust of SJI. With the government’s search for excellence in education and the promotion of innovation and creativity in secondary schools, the independent school proposal was put to us just in time for us to consider it and put up our own proposal for independence of operation of our school. We saw this as a means to achieve our own form of excellence with stress on character formation and academic performance. Thus when we moved into our new premises on 1 January 1988, we also moved into the Independent SJI. We have come full circle, back to the independence of 1852.”
Source: 10 Years of Independence: St Joseph’s Institution

• Our Teachers

In 1988, teachers prepared to begin school anew at Malcolm Road by “attending seminars and training programmes held in school and outside, on how to do group work effectively, conduct pastoral care lessons and teach beyond the syllabus.

Mr Lui Seng Cheong recalled: ‘They were enthusiastic and wanted to introduce change. There was a lot going on, many creative strategies were suggested and the momentum for change was created’”. This preparation saw SJI’s teachers teaching the Secondary 1 classes in new and innovative ways, as an independent school should. In English and Literature classes, “students did more group work. The boys were encouraged to discuss topics among themselves and present what they had learnt. Homework took the form of posters, poems and plays rather than just written assignments”. Other academic departments introduced new strategies to teach their subjects. Teachers worked closely with academic heads and school leaders to introduce these changes.

• Mr Alfred Wong

New MR architecture.pngPhoto source: A Souvenir - Commemorating the official opening of SJI at Malcolm Road (7 April 1989)

Mr Alfred Wong was the architect who designed the SJI campus at Malcolm Road. He was approached to do this by Mr Goh Sin Tub, who would become the first Chairman of the SJI Board of Governors. The old boys wanted SJI at Malcolm Road to be a copy of SJI at Bras Basah Road. Mr Wong resisted their demands because he sensed the invitation to create a campus for the promise of what the ‘new’ SJI could become. His original design was for classroom blocks, an Administration block, the Brothers’ House and a Chapel. Later he designed the two classroom extensions and the library block.

In Recollection of Life in an Accidental Nation, he shared his vision of the ‘new’ SJI campus: “I wanted to provide a design environment for the students that was more than a place of learning. I hope the shapes and the volumes would indicate that this is a special place and not just another school.”

Source: Recollection of Life in an Accidental Nation: Alfred Wong Hong Kwok

• Two Firsts: as an Independent School and New Malcolm Road Campus


In January 1988, SJI saw two “firsts”: SJI began functioning as an Independent School with Secondary 1 classes and SJI moved to Malcolm Road after being at Bras Basah Road since 1852. Bro Kevin Byrne was the Principal. There were 82 staff that year. The first batch of 360 students under the Independent School model entered Secondary 1 that year; they were put into classes of 30 students instead of 44 students per class at Bras Basah Road. Independent school fees in 1988 was $25 per month. In 1988, SJI only offered the O Levels and functioned in the morning (upper secondary classes) and in the afternoon (lower secondary classes).