Journeying With The Nation
Since Independence, our nation has given ordinary Singaporeans untold opportunities to realise their hopes and dreams. In the same way, over the last four decades, BPGHS has kept faith with the aspirations of the young boys and girls who put their futures in the hands of the school.
In those early years, the boys and girls who made up BPGHS' student body were mostly the sons and daughters of hardworking and uneducated rural folk. Their parents were manual workers, small traders and pig, vegetable and poultry farmers who lived in Bukit Panjang and the surrounding areas of Bukit Gombak, Mandai and Woodlands.
To these children, the 16 classrooms of BPGHS' original two-storey campus in Jalan Teck Whye represented the world beyond their farms and kampungs, a world in which they would one day claim their place in the sun.
From the start, BPGHS was an experiment that defied failure. When the school opened its doors on 11 January 1960 , it made history as the first integrated government secondary school in Singapore. Two different language streams, Chinese and English were run by a single administration under one roof with students sharing classrooms and teachers doing the same in the common room. The challenge for the school was to foster integration between the English and Chinese educated students - something it did with panache and imagination through extra curricular activities such as folk dancing.
Underlining the importance of the school in the nation’s educational landscape, BPGHS hosted visits by three prominent national leaders: President Yusof Ishak on 23 June 1961, Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew on 25 July 1965 and most recently SM Goh Chok Tong on the occasion of its 45th anniversary on 16 Jul 2005.
In the Seventies, as the first generation of Housing Development Board estates were being built across the island, brick and mortar issues also dominated the agenda at BPGHS. The school, supported by generous well-wishers, worked tirelessly to raise funds to upgrade its facilities. An ECA block was added to the school, offering students learning opportunities outside the classroom. Academically, the school became well-known for producing sterling results in Chinese at 'O' and 'A' levels.
In the Eighties, education in Singapore went through a sea of change with the phasing out of vernacular schools. BPGHS showed its mettle when students and teachers from the Chinese stream persevered in overcoming the difficulties of adjusting to English as the main medium of instruction. Not content to rest on its laurels, the school then set its sights on improving its results in English - a feat that was achieved in 1985 following a rigorous English Language programme.
As property values rose steadily in the late Eighties and Nineties, so too did the school's academic performance. By the start of the Nineties, the school had secured its position as a premier school in the Western region. BPGHS' track record of sustained progress led to its being accorded autonomous status in 1994.
In the mid-Nineties, the school embarked on a new chapter in its history when it moved from its Teck Whye campus to its present location at Choa Chu Kang Avenue 4. The new campus, which was officially opened in 1995, presented opportunities to create a nurturing environment that supported holistic learning. A sculpture garden was created in the school to expose students to the visual arts on a daily basis. The school archives was set up to trace the school's history and reaffirm the lofty ideals on which it was founded. The laudable achievements of the school continued to attract visitors, local and overseas from China, Australia, Sri Lanka, United Arab Emirates and others, to the school. Our various Ministers for Education (Mr Lee Yock Suan, R. Adm. Teo Chee Hean, Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam) also visited the school.
Today BPGHS takes its place among Singapore's top twenty schools as ranked by performance. The school continues to excel in traditional niche areas such as the Sciences and the Elective Malay Language Programme (EMAS), even as new areas of excellence are being developed. To provide our students with a greater understanding and empathy for the arts, BPGHS offers the Art Elective Programme, a special progamme in the arts initiated by the Ministry of Education. With a strong foundation built on the school's values and the new initiatives driving the school into the 21st century milieu, BPGHS strives to provide its students with a holistic and fulfilling education.
Outside the classroom, students and teachers have continued to stretch themselves. In 2003, BPGHS students gave new meaning to multiculturalism when they performed the classic Hindu epic, Ramayana, as a Chinese opera. Reflecting Singapore's role as a vibrant member of the international community, international students have become very much a part of BPGHS family in recent years. Nonetheless, whether they are ASEAN scholars from our neighbouring countries or the children of expatriates from India or China, these students have come to embrace the enduring values of duty, strength and devotion on which Bukit Panjang Government High School was founded.
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