Saturday, April 1, 2017

Saint Joseph's Institution (SJI) Open House 2017

Attended the SJI Open House at Malcolm Road today.  Decided not to drive, as the school had warned that parking was very limited and there would be congestion. So we took the MRT, which was a good thing because now I know for certain how far the School is from the nearest MRT station, which was Stevens MRT station on the Downtown Line.  The walk from MRT station to school didn't take more than 5 minutes.  Very manageable.


SJI, founded in 1852, is the 3rd oldest school in Singapore.  The school had recently been renovated (and in some places rebuilt), and they moved back to the Malcolm Road campus earlier this year.  The sight that greeted us going into the school.


School field, and the new Indoor Multipurpose Hall (which incidentally is huge inside - 8 badminton courts)

Very nice field.

SJI Open House 2017

The whole process was very well organized.  When we arrived, we headed to the registration foyer, and the students found my son's name (we had pre-registered), and we quickly joined a tour of the school.  Well, the tour was a private one because we were the only tour participants!  The school got many of their Sec 3 Uniformed Group students to lead tours, and our tour guide was from the NCC Cadet Air.  He gave us a tour of the school, including the library, science labs, humanities room, indoor sports hall and many more areas.  It was a big school.

Glass paneling at the library.

Secondary 1 Talk
We were registered for the 12:30pm Sec 1 talk, and we got there early.  See the empty lecture theatre!  But not to worry, it filled up completely very soon.  There was large interest.

Father Adrian (SJI Principal) Speech
The talk started with a Sec 1 boy giving the opening prayer. Prayer is an integral part of school life. After that, the Principal, Father Adrian, gave a speech, which was very interesting because he quoted from two of his favourite poems.  He told us that he was an English major.  I managed to record the entire speech, and here it is.


The two poems cited were Days by Philip Larkin, and the Summer Day, by Mary Oliver.  Fascinating stuff.  Father Adrian cited the closing line from 'Summer Day' - "Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?"  Worth pondering over.

The main segment of the Sec 1 Talk was conducted by the Secondary 1 Level head, who gave us very insightful information.  I will just highlight a few points here.  SJI offers both the O-level and the Integrated Programme Route.  In terms of numbers, about 220 boys for O-level, and 120 for the IP route accepted in previous years.

The Integrated Programme is different from most schools because SJI offers the IB, or International Baccalaureate.   Most IP schools offer the A levels.

Cut-Off Points
In terms of cut-off points (a very important question), the parents were shown this slide.  You can see that the Cut-Off Points were high.  For O0level route, non-affiliate schools was 246 in 2016 and for Integrated Programme (IP), it was a hefty 253 in 206.  Take note - no affiliation for IP programme.  Even the Cut-off for affiliated schools (for the O-level track) was rather high at 238.  In short, if you want to get into SJI, your PSLE score must be pretty good.

School Fees
There was also the issue of fees.  SJI is an independent school, and the fees are not insignificant. This was the chart shown below.  For O level track, it was $340 per month, for IP Track, it was $380 per month. MOE provides a means-tested Independent School Bursary (for Singapore students only). Finally, the Level head assured all parents that if any kid had financial difficulties, please talk to the school.  They would find ways to help the kid.

Distinguished Alumni - parents were also shown several slides on the distinguished alumni of SJI. This is one such slide. Bottom right is Dick Lee, who infamously caused a controversy  by saying that everyone 'did drugs' at SJI.  Oh well, maybe during this time!

Conclusion
I have no affiliation with SJI, but decided to visit SJI because I had read that SJI was achieving very good IB results.  My impression of the school was generally good.  I think the focus on values and character is important, yet there is also an increasing pursuit of academic excellence.

After all, SJI must the one of the few mission schools with such a high cut-off point for its affiliated schools.  Also, there is no affiliation for their IP programme, and hence the student quality (as measured by PSLE score) would be high.

Definitely gave us a lot of food for thought.

For those kids taking PSLE this year (2017), good luck and God Bless!

Thanks for reading.

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