Sekolah Dato’ Abdul Razak (SDAR) is an all-boys boarding school in Malaysia, named after Allahyarham Tun Abdul Razak. Being one of the oldest “Fully Residential Schools” in Malaysia, SDAR is considered as a “Premier School”. SDAR has been awarded various titles by the Government of Malaysia based on the school’s achievements and track record. The school was known as a “Smart School”, before becoming a “Cluster School” in 2008. In 2010, SDAR was selected as one of the 20 “High Performance Schools” in Malaysia. Currently located in Sungai Gadut (Seremban, Negeri Sembilan), SDAR has had a long history of moving from one place to another since its inception.
SDAR was founded in Johor Bahru on 1 May 1956, and was first known as the Malay Secondary School, or “Sekolah Menengah Melayu”. The founding principles of this school were based on the suggestions included in Penyata Razak 1956 (the Razak Report). Among its objectives was to give opportunities for young Malay students in primary schools, especially those from poor and rural backgrounds, to further their studies at the secondary level. The concept was quite different from certain other Premier Schools in Malaya that were originally set up for the children of aristocrats and those who were more well-off in society.
When the Sekolah Menengah Melayu was founded, there was no dedicated site nor building for the school. The first group of 80 students and three teachers were temporarily housed at Sekolah Bukit Zaharah, Johor Bahru. In early 1957, half of the students (40 pupils) from the first group re-enrolled to study at the new premise in Ipoh, Perak. Along with other pupils from across the country, they became the pioneer batch of students in what then became Sekolah Tuanku Abdul Rahman (STAR).
In May 1957, the remaining students from the first group in Johor Bahru were relocated to Tanjung Malim, Perak, where they shared the campus of Sultan Idris Teachers College (SITC), now known as Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris (UPSI). Along with other pupils who registered there, the number of students increased to 119. Mr. R.A. Goodchild, the SITC Principal, was assigned as a temporary Principal for this new school. Two months later, Mr R. A. Goodchild was replaced by Mr. C.F. Daniels. During this period, the teaching staff was 11, which included two part time teachers.
On 5 January 1958, the new buildings for the school, situated next to SITC, were opened. En. Ariffin Mohd. Nam was appointed as the first school Principal.
On 29 November 1958 the school was renamed. The Education Minister, En. Mohd Khir Johari announced the name as Sekolah Dato’ Abdul Razak, after the name of the previous Education Minister (who was later to become the Prime Minister). Allahyarham Tun Abdul Razak had himself graced the event and blessed the new school name. “Berilmu Untuk Berjasa” (Having Knowledge to Serve) became the school’s motto.
The building at Tanjung Malim could no longer accommodate the increasing student population. In 1971, the Negeri Sembilan State Government allocated an area of 16.36 acres (66,200 m2) in Jalan Sikamat, Seremban to build a new school complex. In 2 January 1972, SDAR officially relocated to its new site in Seremban even though the dining hall was not ready and its Remove Class students had to temporarily use the Maktab Harian building (a teachers training college – now known as Maktab Perguruan Raja Melewar). The Principal, Tuan Syed Jaafar Al-Idrus, remained as the Principal in the early 1970s.
On June 17, 1973, Dato’ Hussein bin Onn, the Education Minister visited the school. He thought for a premier school such as SDAR, the complex was too small and requested the Negeri Sembilan State Government to provide more space. The State Government could not do anything as the land for such a purpose was limited. There was a proposal to relocate SDAR to Selaru in Kuala Pilah where about 50 acres (200,000 m2) of land was offered. The suggestion was declined as it was not in line with the Government’s aim to expose the students to town-life (as most of them were from rural areas), while public facilities and infrastructures were still lacking. Thus the school remained in Jalan Sikamat, Seremban.
On November 3, 1973, the SDAR campus in Seremban was officially opened. The opening ceremony was graced by Tun Hajjah Rahah Bt. Tan Sri Haji Mohd Noah, the wife of then Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein. Also present was Dato’ Hj Murad Noor, the Director General of Education, Malaysia, and En Annuar Ayeob, Director General of Education, Negeri Sembilan.
In line with SDAR’s status as a Premier School in Malaysia, the Ministry of Education was to further improve the school’s infrastructure which required a larger site than the Sikamat campus. The school began the 2002 academic year on a new campus in Sungai Gadut, Seremban and the opening was officiated on 2 February 2002. The new campus occupies an area of approximately 40 acres (160,000 m2) and comprises building blocks to accommodate the administration department, 3 teachers’ room and 25 classrooms, together with 4 four-storey boarding hostels, a mosque, a dining hall, and apartments for academic and non-academic staff. The campus has a large sports field, as well as basketball, tennis, badminton, sepak takraw and volleyball courts. In 2010, the Minister of Youth and Sports, Y.B. Dato’ Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek, launched the new futsal court in SDAR.