Today we and travel to Singapore and the 1886 and remember the founding of the first Anglo-Chinese school by Bishop William Fitzjames Oldham, now a family of Methodist schools in Singapore and Indonesia with the school motto, "The Best Is Yet To Be." Considered one of the most prestigious schools in Singapore because of history and the number of its graduates who have gone on to be successful in business as well as professional fields such as law and medicine, it has a very strong alumni network.
William Oldham began his professional life as a government surveyor and was handpicked for the Great Trigonometric Survey of India, which carried out the demarcation of the British territories in India and the measurement of the height of the Himalayan giants. William Lambton began this challenging enterprise and it would take 69 years under 4 different leaders. Lambton’s successor was George Everest. In the Himalayas, Oldham would have needed the assistance of native surveyors, especially in Tibet (where Europeans were not allowed). Trained with cunning adaptations of Buddhist prayer accessories such as mandalas and prayer wheels, these surreptitious surveyors were called pandits or pundits.
During this surveying work, Oldham was invited to the preaching tents of Methodist missionaries and he converted and became a Methodist establishing what became the first of a large number of Methodist schools in what was then British Malaya and the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia), as well as the first Methodist Church in Singapore. The first Chinese to join the Methodist Church led Oldham to participate in the Celestial Reasoning Association, a debating society which the Straits Chinese formed to help develop their skills in English and moral thinking, this introducing Oldham to educated and well-to-do Chinese merchants who were keen to have their sons and themselves educated in English and Western culture.