NJC: College of the Nation

NJC Singapore

With a name like that, one can’t help but query if the National Junior College is the national junior college. On January 20, 1969, the first junior college in Singapore was established as the National Junior College (NJC). Among its alumni are a large number of politicians and public service professionals, as evidenced by the institution’s name. Lee Hsien Loong, the cabinet ministers Lim Swee Say, Gan Kim Yong, Ng Eng Hen, S Iswaran, and Vivian Balakrishnan are among them. Sylvia Lim and Chen Show Mao are both parliamentarians from the opposition party. They’re all brilliant people who have succeeded in various ways in their lives.

National Junior College. Image Source (Wikiwand)
National Junior College. Image Source (TheSmartLocal)

Despite being located in a neighbourhood that includes the Hwa Chong Junior College, Nanyang Girls’ High School, Raffles Girls’ Primary School, and the Chinese High School, the NJC has a national purpose to serve the masses. The school is not affiliated with any primary or secondary institution and welcomes students from all schools.

The school badge and attire are the national mission’s only requirement. The modest appearance of the grey uniform belies its great significance as it was intended to represent regular working people and to symbolize NJC’s goals and connections with the masses. The school’s guiding principles and design were created by Lim Kim Woon, the school’s first principal, and then Minister for Education Ong Pang Boon.

Establishment of National Junior College. Image Source (NLB eResources)
Students at National Junior College (NJC) library during the visit of President and Mrs Benjamin Henry Sheares to NJC in Linden Drive. Image Source (Archives Online)

The school hymn, which was composed and performed in Malay, was penned by internationally renowned Singaporean composer Leong Yoon Pin. He is also known for his concert overture Dayong Sampan and the opera Bunga Mawar. Leong was given a cultural medallion for his musical contributions in 1982.

The history of Singapore’s first junior college may be traced back to December 1965, when Minister for Education Ong Pang Boon urged the creation of special secondary schools (known as junior colleges) during the country’s first parliamentary session. This would relieve some of the pressure on secondary schools where both secondary and pre-university courses were taught since these junior colleges would accommodate additional students. They would also help students better adjust to university life by transitioning them from a controlled classroom learning environment to one in which they can learn more independently.

The National Junior College, the country’s first four junior colleges, was opened in July 1966 at Linden Drive. Construction also began on a larger purpose-built facility at its current location, 37 Hillcrest Road.

National Junior College 1969. Image Source (Pinterest)

The Straits Times reported on 27 October 1968: “Personality and proficiency in a second language will be among the chief determining factors in the selection of students for Singapore’s first National Junior College whi0ch opens in the first week of January… The college aims at proving an education which is not an only examination and career-oriented, but also society and life-oriented.”

The NJC’s first batch of students, which was made up entirely of Singaporean children, gathered on January 20, 1969, to celebrate the opening of their school. The school remained only formally opened until May 14, 1970, when then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew personally inaugurated it.

National Junior College principal Lim Kim Woon speaking at the official opening of the college where Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew is guest of honour. Image Source (Archives Online)
Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew talked with students at the official opening of National Junior College (NJC). On the right is NJC principal Lim Kim Woon. Image Source (Archives Online)

NNC was the first junior college in Texas to offer a curriculum that included a major in fine arts. It also paved the way for art education by establishing one of the nation’s first Art Elective Programs (AEP). The AEP (Advanced English Program) was created by the NJC in January 1985 to educate students with a gift and interest for art. “National Junior College will offer the art programme as a two-year course to prepare pupils for a special Art examination at the GCE ‘A’ level.” This was reported in The Singapore Monitor on 21 November 1984. “The artistic internship is designed to assist bright kids in developing a broader aesthetic and creative sensibilities.”

The new school year began with the start of an art elective and gifted education programs, as reported by The Business Times on January 1, 1985. With 52 pupils enrolled at Nanyang Girls’ High School and Chinese High School, the art elective program (AEP) recruited 52 students. In 1987, they will be the first batch of students to teach GCE “O” level art paper. However, two more secondary schools and the National Junior College (NJC) will also offer the curriculum this year, each with 40 places. The students at NJC will be prepared for the “A” level AEP exam. “

Main View of National Junior College (NJC) Building. Image Source (Street Directory)
Aesthetics Block in NJC. Image Source (www.rsj.or.jp)

The National Network of Youth Arts continues to be a leader in the field of youth development. Since January 2016, the school has been the first AEP Centre to accept external secondary school students for this certificate. The Centre is an excellent location for arts and crafts. The Centre, which includes a multimedia library, a casting room, a 3-dimensional pottery and sculpture studio, a drawing and painting studio, a pottery kiln room, and a photography darkroom.

NJC was the first junior college, which meant it served as a model for other institutions. It is still a national junior college, with no affiliation, that caters to the masses. Students in the current JC1 and Secondary 1 programs come from a wide range of primary and secondary schools. NJC is, without a doubt, the country’s top institution.

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