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Tuesday, April 24, 2018

The Little Horrors of ACS

"Among Singapore’s upper crust, only two boys’ schools matter: Anglo-Chinese School (ACS) and Raffles Institution (RI). Both are consistently ranked among the top schools in the world and have enjoyed a long, heated rivalry. RI, established in 1823, is known to attract the brainy crowd, while ACS, established in 1886, is popular with the more fashionable set and somewhat perceived to be a breeding ground for snobs. Much of this has to do with the 1980 article in the Sunday Nation entitled “The Little Horrors of ACS,” which exposed the rampant snobbery among its pampered students. This led to a shamed principal announcing to stunned students (including this author) the very next morning during assembly that, henceforth, students were no longer allowed to be dropped off at the front entrance by their chauffeurs. (They had to walk up the short driveway all by themselves, unless it was raining.) Expensive watches, eyeglasses, fountain pens, briefcases, satchels, pencil boxes, stationery, combs, electronic gadgets, comic books, and any other luxury items would also be banned from school property. (But within a few months, Lincoln Lee started wearing his Fila socks again and no one seemed to notice.)"

--- Crazy Rich Asians / Kevin Kwan

"The little horrors of ACS
Snobs who compare addresses and holidays abroad

DR TONY TAN said yesterday that Anglo Chinese School had acquired a reputation for being a school of snobs.

There were reports or children asking their parents to drop them some distance from the school because they were ashamed of being seen in their fathers’ old cars.

Primary school pupils had been overheard comparing residential addresses and where they holidayed abroad. The less well-off kids had to put up with disparaging remarks

The Senior Minister of State (Education), while not an old boy of ACS. has two sons studying there. He pointed out that the mission school's original aim of turning out pupils of academic excellence and Christian character seemed to have been diluted.

Speaking at the ACS Founder's Day at the Anglo-Chinese Junior College last night. Dr Tan said: “Over the years the emphasis on material success, in the form of scholarships that are won, the number of wealthy and successful graduates that are produced, the grandiosity and luxury of school facilities, seems to have overlaid the Christian commitment of ACS and it is not easy to differentiate between the aims of ACS and those of a good government school."

The cause of snobbish behaviour among children was the parents who pampered their children — buying them expensive pens and watches and giving them excessive pocket money and generally lavished material things on them.

“A few parents," said Dr Tan, "had even objected to having their children take part in the school's Use Your Hands Campaign. The parents had said that they would send their servants to help in the campaign instead.“

The minister pointed out that if all ACS did was to prepare pupils to be rich doctors, lawyers or businessmen. then it would have failed in its mission.

But it would be wrong to blame the school for the prevalence of such snobbery "which is a social disease in Singapore associated with the rise of an affluent society."

--- New Nation, 2 March 1980
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