Friday, 29 May 2015

Yusof Ishak Secondary School launches Presidents’ Trail for SG50

New trail reveals values, histories of Presidents
Path features seven hotspots
By Regina Marie Lee, TODAY, 28 May 2015

Years ago, 12-year-old Wee Kim Wee was playing at the construction site of the Fullerton Building when he found a Mexican silver coin in the mud. The coin became his most prized possession, but when he saw his mother crying over their financial circumstances, the boy who would grow up to become Singapore’s fourth President, sold the coin and gave the money to her.

More than 80 years later at the very same site — the waterfront outside the Fullerton Hotel — the story was recounted by students from Yusof Ishak Secondary School as part of a Presidents’ Trail designed by the school.

“It is the school’s contribution to the SG50 commemoration activities and one that seeks to unveil a side of Singapore’s history that citizens do not often hear about,” said its principal, Madam Jessie Koh, 50.

The trail features seven hotspots, each centred on one of Singapore’s presidents, past and present.

At the launch today (May 27), 40 Yusof Ishak Secondary students acted as ushers and docents to 100 primary and secondary students from neighbouring schools, as well as family members of the late Mr Wee.

Armed with mobile tablets, the participants downloaded the trail information from the Pocket Trips SG50 Edition app and could access information, stories and quiz questions at each hotspot.

The idea for the trail came from Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob, who launched the trail.

She said: “Yusof Ishak Secondary is the only school in Singapore bearing our first President’s name, but I felt that that was not sufficient. The school needed to go beyond that to make (the significance of Yusof Ishak) come alive.”

Mdm Halimah hoped that the trail would allow users to “understand the values that underpin our presidents and have contributed to our success”.

The hotspots were chosen to highlight the values of each president, said Ms Ruby Jayanthisimmon, 43, the school’s Head of the Humanities Department, and overall-in-charge of designing the trail.

She said: “We didn’t want to choose the obvious sites like Benjamin Sheares Bridge. We read stories of the presidents, through what they wrote and from there, we also asked the families to get some leads.”

For example, the lighthouse at Fullerton Hotel has been chosen as the site for former President S R Nathan, as it was where he had worked as a seamen’s welfare officer at the Marine Department, defending the interests of the exploited community of seafarers.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for students and the general public to get to know a part of the history of Singapore. A people with a sense of history will be able to withstand whatever obstacles,” said Miss Wee Eng Hwa, 73, a daughter of the late President Wee, who was at the launch.

The other sites on the trail are the Foundation Stone outside Fullerton Hotel (Yusof Ishak), the SGH Museum (Benjamin Sheares), e2i (Employment and Employability Institute) (Devan Nair), the Esplanade (Ong Teng Cheong) and the Army Museum (Dr Tony Tan).

The public can embark on the trail from June 2, by downloading the trail information from the Pocket Trips SG50 Edition app on the Android platform.

* MOE to relocate Yusof Ishak Secondary from Bukit Batok to Punggol from 2021
School named after Singapore's first president will move to Punggol
Now in Bukit Batok, Yusof Ishak Secondary will relocate to meet demand in growing HDB town
By Amelia Teng, Education Correspondent, The Straits Times, 14 Sep 2018

With 53 years of history behind it, Yusof Ishak Secondary School will soon be packing up and moving to a new home in Punggol.

The school, now in Bukit Batok and faced with falling enrolment, will relocate to a new site in the rapidly growing Housing Board town in 2021 to meet the increasing demand from families for school places there.

In a statement yesterday, the Ministry of Education said the school will not admit new Secondary 1 cohorts in the next two years at its current campus to minimise disruption to students' learning.

The school, established in 1965 as Jubilee Integrated Secondary School in Jubilee Road, in West Coast, was renamed in 1966 after the first president of Singapore, Mr Yusof Ishak, and opened by founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew that same year.

According to its website, it is the only school named after a president here. Mr Yusof, an alumnus of Raffles Institution and a former journalist, was appointed chairman of the Public Service Commission of Singapore in July 1959, and served as the first president of an independent Singapore from 1965 to 1970.

Since 2000, MOE has relocated about 60 schools, with some of them more than 10km from their original site. These included Mee Toh School, which moved from Kallang to Punggol in 2005.

With the relocation of Yusof Ishak Secondary, Punggol will house four secondary schools. The others are Punggol, Greendale and Edgefield secondary schools.

Punggol has seen rapid development in recent years, with young families moving in and facilities like a mega childcare centre being set up there. The estate will also see two new primary schools - Valour and Northshore - in 2020, MOE said. This will bring the number of primary schools in Punggol to 11.

Yusof Ishak Secondary and Valour Primary will be located at the junction of Punggol Central and Punggol Way, while Northshore Primary will be in Northshore Link.

Yusof Ishak Secondary alumnus Eric Lim, chairman of relocation company K.C. Dat, attended the school from 1965 to 1969, and is happy it is moving to a newer estate.

Mr Lim, 67, said: "It is good for us because Punggol is a younger neighbourhood with younger students. Hopefully, we can have a better student intake, and we can build up the name of the school."

About two years ago, Mr Lim, who is chairman of the alumni association, was concerned as many schools were being closed, and the school had falling enrolment.

"I was so afraid that the name of the school would disappear, so I fought very hard," said Mr Lim, who raised his concerns to MOE.

The school, which moved to Bukit Batok in 1999 and currently has 400 students, projects to have 1,300 at its new campus.

For one year in 2021, it will house its last batch of Secondary 4 students at the Bukit Batok site and its first batch of Secondary 1 students at the Punggol campus. MOE said it will facilitate the transfer of a small number of Secondary 5 Normal (Academic) students in 2022 - admitted this year - to other secondary schools in Bukit Batok.

The school's principal Maureen Lee said that new students and staff can learn about its history - including its name - through a heritage gallery at the new site.

MOE said the school will continue to host the Centre for Teaching and Learning Excellence, a programme set up in 2015 that exposes teachers to innovative ways of teaching in a classroom setting.

The school will have better facilities, including an interactive learning centre with video streaming capabilities and a learning laboratory with an attached observation room.

Additional reporting by Jan Lee

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