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By Dayrius Tay
NUS High is a reputable high school located in Clementi, Singapore. Quoting from the official NUS High website, ‘Being the only independent school which specialises in the teaching of Math and Science, we aim to nurture well-rounded students with high aptitudes and passion in both disciplines. Since her founding in 2005, NUS High students have excelled in international Olympiads, pioneered new technologies and co-authored books and publications in international peer-reviewed journals. Research is one of the hallmarks of a 21st century education and we, at NUS High, have emphasized research as a foundation of learning. In the last ten years, we have moved a step closer to realise our vision of becoming a wellspring of inspiration for Math and Science education and research in Singapore.’ The school campus sits on a 4.67 ha plot of land which can accommodate a student population of 1,300.
The vibrancy of the NUS High campus is evident in the unique facilities and features that is on offer. Special features that manifest aspects of the scientific and mathematical worlds in the façade of the school include the Eco-Learning Trail, the Pi Wall, and the “Periodic” Façade and the observatory. These featured elements complement some 50 classrooms, a 700 seat auditorium and well-equipped science and research laboratories.
On the sixth level of this institution, a plethora of cutting-edge research equipment resides in the Advanced Research Laboratories that are capable of providing a world-class research environment to support students who are embarking on their Advanced Research Projects(ARP).
The opinions of NUS High students about the campus is a mixed bag. Most students interviewed expressed a healthy level of satisfaction about the labs of NUS High. However, the some of students expressed their concern about the ‘draw of the lot’ air conditioning in classrooms. Quoting one student, “Air conditioning could be an important factor in creating a better environment for learning”. However, if one were to take a step back, it could be economically unsustainable to equip all classrooms with power-guzzling air conditioners nor is it environmentally friendly in a world that is getting hotter day by day. Eventually, the cost of such facilities would either have to be borne by the student body in the form of inflated school fees or a compromise in other aspects of education.
Another area of concern is the school canteen. The recent Healthy Meals in School programme by the Health Promotion Board (HPB) has elicited lukewarm responses. Some students have been seen frequenting nearby coffee shops and eateries possibly to have greater variety from the usual canteen fare. Others pack their meals. This initiative by the HPB has also created other undesirable consequences. The mandatory portion of fruit given with each meal has only resulted in food wastage in most cases, and prices have also increased as vendors cite ‘higher costs in acquiring healthy ingredients’. Despite its altruistic aims, the Healthy Meals programme has caused the canteen to lose its appeal as a facility of communal gathering.
Overall, NUS High School provides a positive learning environment that is supportive of research and self-directed learning. However, on some level, thanks to our heritage of being an “air-conditioned nation” and a “food paradise” – some of us continue to have optimistic expectations for an improvement in some facilities of the school.