Chapter 1: It all started with a bold dream
Mr Yap Fun Hong had a dream. He wanted to provide education to the predominantly Chinese community in the Hougang-Serangoon area. During those times, many people were uneducated or had their education stopped halfway, due to the Japanese occupation. Schools, including kindergartens and high schools, were limited and only those who were considered “rich” among the rest were able to attend classes.
Together with Mr Heng Chin Soo and Mr Tan Choon Teng, Mr Yap planned to set up a school for the needy and those who lived far from the central district, where most schools were located. At that time, raising funds was not easy as most people were poor and would rather use their money to buy daily necessities. Determined to turn his dream into a reality, Mr Yap sold his five pigs to rent three bungalows along Upper Serangoon Road to accommodate 620 students.
Thus, Sin Min School was born on 1 November 1945.
Chapter 2: The challenges of the early years
Sin Min School’s early years did not go by smoothly. The main problem was the lack of funds to maintain the school. When Mr Heng Chin Soo took over as the Principal of Sin Min School in 1950, the school bought one of the three bungalows and student enrolment increased to 1,000. However, the students were provided with only very basic facilities. They had limited desks and chairs made of cheap and rough wood, and sometimes the students even had to share a table or sit on the floor. They also had very few toilets, a small canteen with only one stall, a muddy little grass patch as their school field, and insufficient classrooms.
With the lack of school funds, the school was unable to give the students the education they needed. The poverty-stricken students who yearned to see the world beyond the classroom were unable to do so as the school was not able to bring them on excursions or field trips. The teachers also did not get much pay from the principal as the school was low in funds.
In 1954, Mr Tung Sey Yew became the Principal of Sin Min School. He recognised that a secondary school was sorely needed in Hougang and appealed to the Ministry of Education to establish a secondary school. He also opened doors to allow girls to attend school. When the Ministry approved his application, secondary school sessions were added in January 1956. This was a historical moment for many poor families in the neighbourhood as it symbolised a dream of a better future coming to realisation.
As for the teachers and students, they saw that the lack of funds deterred the school’s progress, and decided to come together to overcome this problem. In 1958, they decided to stage a 2-night concert at Broadway Theatre, New World City, for fund-raising. They worked together tirelessly to rehearse and also to prepare the props and costumes. As they were short of cash, they had to improvise. With the dedication of the staff, and the cooperation of the students who loved their school, they managed to put up a spectacular performance and raised $10,000! The money was used to build 6 additional classrooms and to purchase a plot of land for future expansion. Thus, Sin Min came to acquire its location at Hougang-Serangoon area.
Chapter 3: Don’t be pushed by problems, but be led by dreams
Mr Chew Peng Leng started on his arduous journey as Principal in 1965. He continued to expand the school premises and facilities through various fund-raising events, such as inviting Teochew Opera troupes to perform and screening movies in the cinemas. In addition, groups of students would be seen going from house to house, village to village to ask for donations.
With the surge in intake of students, the 2-storey block was rebuilt into a 3-storey new school building in 1974. Through the generous donations of the Alumni Association and the School Management Committee, a new administrative block was also added to the school compound.
Mr Chew’s next task proved equally demanding. As Singapore was undergoing many changes following its independence, the housing development situation and the new English education system drove numerous students away. Nevertheless, Mr Chew continued to strive to provide a well-rounded education for the students. He oversaw the conversion of Sin Min from a Chinese medium school to an English medium school, and the proclamation of the primary section as an independent primary school.
Thankfully, Sin Min’s new status as a government school revitalised the school. Mr Chew continued to lead the school and became the longest serving Principal of Sin Min High School. Given that even his children were educated at Sin Min, it is no surprise that his love for the school has deep roots. Until today, Mr Chew continues to serve in Xinmin Secondary’s School Advisory Committee as an Advisor, and visits the school regularly, especially to grace its special occasions.
In 1986, Mr Teo Ting Kok assumed the role of Principal and worked to raise the level of English proficiency among the students. He established the School Advisory Committee, which provided invaluable support and immense contributions to the advancement of the school. It was during his tenure that Sin Min High School was relocated to Hougang Ave 8.
Chapter 4: The turning point of Xinmin’s history
In 1991, when Mr Goh was asked to lead a school, he requested to be posted to his alma mater, Xinmin Secondary School. His decision touched the hearts of many teachers.
When the Ministry agreed and appointed Mr Goh as the Principal of Xinmin Secondary School in 1992, he started his task of transforming Xinmin into a choice school in Hougang.
Mr Goh started by tackling the disciplinary problems as he believed that teaching and learning would not be able to take place without good discipline. He believed that every student could be moulded as long as they had the correct attitude. To improve academic results, he introduced the Self-Study Programme and set up Study Corners. He often encouraged students to give their best in every aspect of school life.
In 1994, Xinmin Secondary School adopted a new school logo to reflect the school’s new philosophy. The school also received its first Academic Value-Added Award. By 1997, within five years of Mr Goh’s leadership, he had brought up the ranking of the school from 134th position to the 50th position.
Chapter 5: The continuing transformation of Xinmin Secondary School
Mr Lee Hak Boon continued Mr Goh’s dream of transforming Xinmin into a premier educational institution that prepares students for life and work in the global economy. When he took over the leadership of the school in 1998, he revamped the school image and placed emphasis on the all-round development of students. To symbolise the beginning of a new era, the school uniforms were changed and Mr Lee put in place a new set of school values and the student’s creed.
In 1999, Xinmin’s ranking soared to the 31st position, and in 2001, Xinmin Secondary School became the first neighbourhood school in Hougang to be awarded the Autonomous School status and receive the prestigious Singapore Quality Class (SQC) certification.
Mrs Low Ay Nar took over as Principal of Xinmin Secondary School in 2003 and continued to lead the school to new peaks of excellence. Her simple yet powerful formula X=Q (Xinmin = Quality) reflects the school’s belief in quality education. She spearheaded many bold and innovative initiatives, such as “Take Charge! Own Your School!” to reinvent itself as a quality school, and formed Parents@Xinmin (P@X) to involve parents in the school’s decision-making process.
During Mrs Low’s leadership, Xinmin achieved many awards, including the School Excellence Award (SEA) in 2005, the highest and most prestigious award in MOE’s Masterplan of Awards framework, and was ranked a Band 1 school as its students emerged among the top 10% of their cohort in the GCE O-Level examinations. Xinmin also received the Outstanding Development Award for Character Development for its innovative and exemplary approaches to character development.
In 2006, Mdm Liew Wei Li (formerly Special Assistant to Director-General of Education) took over the helm of leadership from Mrs Low as the Principal of Xinmin Secondary School. Her direction was for Xinmin to be a Finishing School for Leaders, who, equipped with the necessary Attitudes, Skills and Knowledge (ASK) become change leaders with a heart. Together with the staff, she focused on quality teaching and learning, and created opportunities for the students to excel holistically.
In was during Mdm Liew’s tenure that Xinmin organised the 1st Secondary Schools Mother Tongue Teachers and Students Symposium in 2008, and the 1st Science and Technology Symposium in 2009. She also initiated the building of the Performing Arts Centre to recognise the talents in the performing arts groups.
Under Mdm Liew’s leadership, Xinmin received the Outstanding Development Award for Character Development for its innovative and exemplary approaches to character development, and continued to be ranked a Band 1 school.
1992年，教育部同意了吴中博先生的申请，委任他为新民中学的校长，自此，吴校长开始了将新民中学打造为后港区一流学府（a choice school）的大业。