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Madrasah Alsagoff Al-Arabiah is established 1912

Madrasah Alsagoff Al-Arabiah, or the Alsagoff Arab School, was established in 1912 upon the legacy of its founder and benefactor, Syed Mohamed bin Ahmed Alsagoff.[1] Situated in Jalan Sultan, where it has stood since 1912,[2] Madrasah Alsagoff Al-Arabiah is  the oldest madrasah in Singapore.[3]

The madrasah started off as a small school in Syed Mohamed’s family house on Java Road.At the time, there were no formal schools for the children of burgeoning numbers of Arabs and Muslims coming to Singapore from Arabia. Syed Mohamed started the school in his house with the intention of providing these children with an Islamic education.The school started with only four students, but the enrolment gradually grew to be too large for Syed Mohamed’s house.[4]

When Syed Mohamed died on 3 July 1906,[5] he left behind a large sum of money to be used for the extension and relocation of the school.[6] His endowment, the Syed Mohamed Ahmed Wakaf Fund, provided the land and funds needed for the development of the new madrasah premises.[7] Once completed, it would have six classrooms to accommodate up to 200 students.[8]

Madrasah Alsagoff Al-Arabiah was officially opened on 3 March 1913 by then governor of the Straits Settlements Arthur Young.[9] Managed by a committee of four – comprising representatives from the Arab, Malayan, Javanese and Indian Muslim communities – the madrasah provided free education to all Muslims regardless of race and nationality.[10] Students were taught Islamic knowledge and Arabic, as well as reading and writing in English and Malay.[11]

Between 1912 and the early 1940s, only boys were admitted into the madrasah.Following the end of the Japanese Occupation, the madrasah began enrolling girls, who were taught in a separate session in classes of their own. The next two decades saw an increase in the number of female students, while the number of male students gradually declined. In 1966, the madrasah was converted into an institution for girls only.[12]

Madrasah Alsagoff Al-Arabiah has been a single-session school since 2006. Initially, the madrasah provided its students with a 10-year Islamic education programme – six years at the primary level and four years at the secondary level. Following the revision to the madrasah’s  curriculum in 1985, its secondary-four students are required to sit for the General Certificate of Education (GCE) ‘O’ Level examination.[13] In 2013, the madrasah introduced a new pre-university programme, which provides its students with the opportunity to either sit for the GCE 'A' Level examination or  pursue a diploma in Islamic studies based on the diploma programme offered by Egypt’s Al-Azhar University.[14]
In 2010, the Urban Redevelopment Authority recognised Madrasah Alsagoff Al-Arabiah as one of Singapore’s heritage schools.[15]

1. Alsagoff Arab School. (n.d.). Alsagoff Arab School history. Retrieved October 30, 2014, from Alsagoff Arab School website: http://alsagoff.edu.sg/index.php/en/about-us/our-history
2. Haji Musa Kasbi. (1988, February 9). A living contribution of the Alsagoffs. The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. Madrasah Alsagoff Al-Arabiah, Jalan Sultan. (1993, May 4). The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
4. The Alsagoff school. (1913, March 4). The Straits Times, p. 9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5. The Straits Times, 9 Feb 1988, p. 5.
6. The Straits Times, 4 Mar 1913, p. 9.
7. Chee, M. F. (2006). The historical evolution of madrasah education in Singapore. In Noor Aisha Abdul Rahman & A. E. Lai (Eds.), Secularism and spirituality: Seeking integrated knowledge and success in madrasah education in Singapore (p. 9). Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Academic. Call no.: SING 371.077095957 SEC.
8. The Straits Times, 4 Mar 1913, p. 9.
9. Chee, 2006, p. 9; The Straits Times, 4 Mar 1913, p. 9.
10. Chee, 2006, p. 9; The Straits Times, 4 Mar 1913, p. 9.
11. Chee, 2006, p. 9; Alsagoff Arab School, Alsagoff Arab School history.
12.  Alsagoff Arab School, Alsagoff Arab School history.
13.  Alsagoff Arab School, Alsagoff Arab School history.
14. Irma Kamarudin. (2012, December 31). Madrasah Alsagoff tawar pilihan baru bagi pelajar lanjutkan pengajian posmenengah. Berita Harian. Retrieved from Factiva.
15. Urban Redevelopment Authority. (2010). Heritage schools. Retrieved October 30, 2014, from Urban Redevelopment Authority website: http://www.ura.gov.sg/conservation/Cons%20Sch%20Pamphlet.pdf


The information in this article is valid as at 2014 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

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