The Opening of the V.I.
July 1894

An amalgamation of reports from
The Selangor Journal




6th October 1893

The Victoria Institution building is fast assuming a concrete (we are not referring to the foundation stone) form, and what has hitherto been an anything but sightly piece of waste land opposite the High Street Police Station, will shortly be adorned with a really fine Structure. Mr. Nicholas is the contractor, so there is no doubt that the work will be thoroughly well done; and we hope that the speed with which a row of houses has been erected at the Damansara Road end of the same street will be eclipsed.

15th December 1893

At the seventh meeting of the Trustees of the Victoria Institution, held on the 6th December, a letter was read from the Colonial Secretary, S. S., conveying the expression of the Secretary of State's satisfaction at the foundation of the Institution as affording pleasing evidence of public spirit on the part of the Selangor community. The post of Head Master is still unfilled. The salary offered is $200 a month, with a further sum of $50 a month to be invested by the Trustees as a provision, in lieu of pension, for the Head Master on retirement. The Rev. F. W. Haines was good enough to undertake to act as Head Master, so far as his other duties will permit, until the appointment is filled, and the Trustees thereupon decided to open the Institution on the l5th January, 1894, making use, for the present, of the Government English School, and the temporary addition thereto which has recently been erected at the cost of the Trustees. The amount of the subscriptions promised to the Institution now stands $14,351, making with the $7,350 Government donation, a total of $21,701. At the meeting a subscription of $10 from Mr W. Egerton lately Officer-in-Charge of Sungei Ujong, and one of $50 from Mr. Sin Wai Wi, through the Captain China, were acknowledged.

26th Jan 1894

The “Victoria Institution” really commenced its career on Monday l5th January, though for the present its home is unpretending quarters of the late Government English School, with the addition of a class room lately added. The Acting Inspector is temporarily looking after the interests of the Institution, so far as his duties The staff of teachers at present consists of three, besides the Acting Inspector of Schools. At roll call on the 15th, 86 boys answered to their names. Arrangements have been made for the boys to be drilled regularly by a Sergeant of Police. A Cricket Club has been started. The new building for the Institution now presents quite an imposing appearance and will evidently be out of the contractor’s hands by the time specified. We are sure out readers will join us in wishing floreat domus.

1st June 1894

We are glad to hear that the Headmaster for the Victoria Institution has been selected by the Colonial Office and is on his Way from England, having sailed by the French Mail of 27th May. Mr. B. E. Shaw is an M.A. of Oxford, and has had several years experience an a schoolmaster.

1st June 1894

Building in Kuala Lumpur is brisk enough just now, and many spots in the heart of the town that have been vacant hitherto are being built upon. A corner block of building, opposite the Apothecaries’ Hall in High Street, is a great improvement on what was an unsightly piece of waste land, and another block is going up where Petaling and High Streets diverge. Among others, three new Buildings will greatly add to the substantial and ornamental appearance of the town, we refer to the Victoria Institution, the new Church and the new Masonic Hall. The former is almost completed, while the way in which the Church is going up is simply marvellous. The Masonic Hall has already assumed an imposing appearance, and when it is completed the ground floor will furnish the finest hall in Kuala Lumpur. Mr. Nicholas is the contractor for each of these three Buildings.

15th June, 1894

The Victoria Institution building will be taken over by the Trustees in a few days, will be opened on the 30th July, after the usual June vacation. The advent, of the recently appointed headmaster is looked forward to. There are now 115 scholars enrolled; 5 are in the VI standard, 3 in V, 11 in IV, 14 in III, 17 in II, and 65 in the I. The percentage of daily attendance during May was 83.65. The Acting Inspector of Schools, who has been looking after the fortunes of the Institution since it started in its temporary premises, is at present conducting the annual midsummer examination. The Trustees have decided to request the Government to publish quarterly financial statements of the Institution in the Gazette. The school fee, payable monthly, is $1 per mensem, and scholars have to purchase their books and slates.

27th July 1894

In reporting on the recent examination (l2th to 15th June) of the scholars of the Victoria Institution, the Acting Inspector of Schools, the Rev. Frank Haines says: “The result of the examination as a whole shews that some good work has been done, and tends to confirm me in my opinion that the Trustees did well in starting the Victoria Institution in temporary premises in January last. It must be remembered that most of the boys came fresh to their forms at the end of last year. The discipline of the school throughout is excellent.” There are 115 boys on the Register, and of these 108 had been in regular attendance during June; 87 were presented for examination, but seven of them were absent through sickness, etc. This examination, however, does not decide the “Result Grant.” The Inspector finds that grammar is weak throughout, the boys in Standards V and VI failing to obtain half-marks on a very simple paper; on the other hand, arithmetic and geography gave some excellent papers. Roderick Pereira comes out head boy with 308 marks out of a possible 460; in this standard the geography paper of Daniel Asirvathem is looked upon as the best single production. In Standard V (three boys examined) Sidney Maartensz obtained 165 Out of 300. In Standard IV, Peter Martin and Aelian Askey are the Two best (153 and 151 out of 200, respectively); while Long Kwong gave in a good arithmetic paper, obtaining 48 marks out of 50. Kim Swee and Wong Fook Lin were the two best boys in Standard III, their marks being 138 and 128 out of 200, respectively. Of 12 presented for examination in Standard II, four obtained maximum marks for arithmetic; but Teow Kee was the best all-round boy with 125 marks out of a possible 158. Standard 1 is in two divisions, Chinese and Tamil; the latter, however, has not long started and hardly yet got well together, but the former division is showing good results. Mr. Ah Cheong, teacher is doing good work, and of the 21 boys he presented for examination 10 would pass and earn the grant; eight of them made the maximum number of marks in arithmetic. Ah You came out at the top with 142 marks out of 150.

Naturally, many of the papers exhibited the amusing errors common to school examinations; but, as the boys are learning in a foreign tongue, they lose their point as compared with the ludicrous mistakes made in home schools. The building is now complete, and the master’s house is expected to be ready in about a month. At present a gang of gardeners are working on the ground, levelling and laying out “the flowery sweets the trim parterre,” or rather, which is more to the purpose, a clear space for cricket and football.

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The School of the Victoria Institution will re-open in the new building on Monday, 30th July. at 8 a.m. New pupils should be brought, to the Institution on Saturday, 28th July, between the hours of 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. or 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., in order to he examined. The Headmaster, Mr. Bennett E. Shaw will receive into a special class those pupils who are able to pass the VII Standard. The course in this class will include Latin and French, besides the usual English subjects.

In our last issue we mentioned that a ground for cricket and football was being prepared for the boys of the Victoria Institution. We are glad to find that the importance of physical training is not being overlooked by the Trustees. The late Royal Commission on English Elementary Education called special attention to the necessity for encouraging the intercourse of masters and pupils out of school hours, and to the imperfections of a system which gave no facilities for this intercourse. Those who appreciate the difference between education and the mere acquirement of knowledge will be gratified to learn that those in charge of the Institution likewise appreciate the difference.

In the above-mentioned Royal Commission — which we think might with advantage be studied by educationists of the Straits — there are two or three other recommendations which we hear will be acted upon in our new school. The Commissioners recommend that drawing should be made a compulsory subject in all boys’ schools. It is not only an excellent educational medium, training the mind, the eye and the hand, but it is also “the best kind of technical education available” and “the foundation of all industrial pursuits.” Elementary science is another subject now regarded as essential to elementary instruction in England. Lessons on common subjects in the lower standards leading up to a knowledge of elementary science in the higher standards. This subject is considered as only second in importance to the three elementary subjects. It is not only the foundation, but an essential part, of thorough technical instruction, calculated to fit scholars to fulfil their respective duties in life, and to “develop the special gifts with which each is endowed.” Arrangements are being made at the Victoria Institution to devote at least one lesson in the week to drawing and one lesson to elementary science. Small prizes will also be offered periodically for collections of natural history specimens, to encourage boys to spend their spare time during the holidays in a more advantageous way than playing in the streets. It will be seen that, by all these means, a knowledge of colloquial English will be more easily and more quickly obtained than would be the case if the attention of scholars and teachers were confined to reading books. Indeed, according to modern ideas, language ought to be learnt by the ear and not by the eye—certainly the natural and common sense way.

It is noticed in the last report of the Inspector of Schools of the Straits Settlements that very few Chinese succeed in passing Standard VII; this is hardly a matter for surprise when the requirements are considered. But it is a matter for surprise that no improvements are being made in a system which is doubtless keeping back promising scholars, who might be good padi planters, traders, miners, or sailors,” and, we may add, mechanics, because they cannot write perfectly a difficult foreign language. In some notes in a recent issue of the Government Gazette, from which the above is quoted, attention was called to the fact that the education provided by the Government in Selangor had not for its main object the manufacture of clerks, and this is a point to be remembered in a newly developed, rising country, where the demand for skilled labour will be continually on the increase. We hope that those in charge of the Victoria Institution, while following the English system as far as its merits are concerned, will succeed in avoiding some of its grievous faults – such as placing the personal interests of the teacher in direct opposition to the interests of the scholar; keeping back the clever and over-pressing the dull; gauging the importance of a subject by its value at the Annual Inspection for the Grant; sacrificing all, in fact, to the almighty dollar.

It strikes at the root of all true education, and would take the best out of any teacher, except the professional “crammer,” to have the work done in a school valued merely according to the percentage of “passes” obtained, and the amount of money brought in by that means to the funds of the Governing Body. If, as it appears, this is the system employed throughout the Straits, we do not wonder that H. E. the Governor lately expressed himself dissatisfied with the state of education, and desired to see a new line adopted.

30th July 1894

The Victoria Institution opened for the first time on Monday, the 30th ultimo. It was a wet morning, and there was it appears a doubt about the date, some of the scholars thinking Wednesday, the 1st instant, was the opening day. Ninety boys, however, appeared, and on the following morning 107 were present. The number on the School Register now is 126. Mr. W. M. Philips, late of the Raffles Institution, has been engaged as Second Assistant Master, and will take charge of the Science and Chemistry Classes.




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