Published in 1947, A History of the Educational Policy of the Straits Settlements with Recommendations for a New System Based on Vernaculars was originally a thesis submitted to the University of London in 1940. Authored by Dr David D. Chelliah, the book charts in detail the progression of education in the Straits Settlements from the 1800 to 1925 and in some sections not later than 1939. The book, in the eyes of one commentator, offered the most comprehensive treatment of the subject.
While Chelliah advocated for the provision of vernacular education through the mother tongue, he also recognised the need for a common language that is the English language. His work was acknowledged by the report of the All-Party Committee of the Singapore Legislative Assembly on Chinese Education in 1955. Chelliah retired in 1949 after 38 years in the teaching profession. He was recruited to head an Anglican school in Penang in 1911 and his last post was as Acting Principal of St Andrew’s School.
Offering careful research into the subject, the book was one of the first works on the history of education in the Straits Settlements (Singapore, Malacca, and Penang) and has since often been cited by subsequent writers in relation to the history of colonial education in Malaysia and Singapore. It contains information that were culled from official records destroyed during the Japanese occupation, thus adding to its value as a treasured piece in our educational archives.