Category Archives: Education

Old School compounds to be vacated after merging of schools

Hit by falling student enrolments, 11 schools have merged with others in the last two years and eight of those former school compounds now stand empty. Three others are being used as temporary premises for schools that are undergoing renovation.

Three former schools are being used by others: The former Chestnut Drive Secondary building is now Fajar Secondary until the end of this year; the former First Toa Payoh Secondary building is Pei Chun Public School till the end of next year and the former Clementi Woods Secondary building will be Nan Hua Primary for two years from next year. All three schools were merged with others last year. If MOE has no plans for a site, it will be returned to the state and put to other uses.

  • 11 vacated, 4 to go

  • VACATED IN 2016

    • Bedok Town Secondary
    • Clementi Woods Secondary (Holding site for Nan Hua Primary School, 2018 till end 2019)
    • First Toa Payoh Secondary (Holding site for Pei Chun Public School, till end 2018)
    • Chestnut Drive Secondary (Holding site for Fajar Secondary, till end 2017)

    VACATED IN 2017

    • Balestier Hill Secondary
    • Henderson Secondary
    • Siglap Secondary
    • MacPherson Secondary
    • North View Secondary
    • Pioneer Secondary
    • Si Ling Secondary


    • Bedok North Secondary
    • Bishan Park Secondary
    • Chong Boon Secondary
    • Greenview Secondary

Some sites of former schools have been used for other purposes. For example, the Academy of Singapore Teachers, launched in 2010, is housed in the former St Andrew’s Junior College building in Malan Road. The former CHIJ (Opera Estate) Primary School site in Jalan Khairuddin has been occupied by the Singapore Red Cross since 1991.

There are at least nine other former school sites managed by the Singapore Land Authority that are vacant state properties. They can be rented on a short-term basis for up to 90 days

Merger of schools with traditions leading to a unrelated name

What’s in a name?

A school by another name isn't the same

Plenty of history and memories, say former staff and pupils of Griffiths Primary School and Qiaonan Primary.

They are upset that the two pioneer schools, which together have been around for 145 years, will be merged to form Angsana Primary School – a name with little connection to its predecessors.

“Why Angsana? Why not something like Griffiths-Qiaonan?” asked 86-year-old Eunice Tan Khe Tong, a retired principal, who was there for Griffiths Primary School at its start, and its end.

She was among Griffiths’ first teachers when it opened in Towner Road in 1950, and was at its Tampines Street 22 location earlier this month for its closing ceremony. She has already written to the National Heritage Board to ask for the Griffiths name to be preserved.

“A name represents a school’s history,” said Mrs Tan, who “taught math, science, English, art, and even singing” in her eight years with the school.

A street away from Griffiths is Qiaonan, which was started in 1933 by the Wenzhou clan association. Its name is most likely a reference to Chinese migrants (qiao) who have moved south (nan).

Qiaonan Alumni Association president Lim Eng Kiong, 57, who first studied there in 1965, said the group, which has around 200 members, has also appealed to the Ministry of Education (MOE) and met its officials to try to save the school name.

“I have strong feelings for Qiaonan. If I can help keep its name, I will try my best,” he said.

Singapore Taoist Federation chairman Tan Thiam Lye, 65, also a former pupil, added: “It’s such a good name, why not keep it?”

The MOE said Singapore’s birth rate has fallen sharply since 2000, leading to declining enrolment in some schools in mature estates.

This “does not allow them to offer a good range of educational programmes and co-curricular activities”, explained a spokesman. In the past five years, two other primary schools were merged, while four secondary schools were combined into two.

A Schools Naming Committee decides on the new name, taking into account the previous schools’ histories and whether it will resonate with the community.

Merged schools will usually also have a heritage space to display their past links.

On the new Angsana Primary School’s website, it says it will build on the rich histories of Qiaonan and Griffiths.

But for some, this may not be enough. Mr Ahmad Salik Ahmad Ishak, 35, admitted being upset when he heard about the merger. He studied in Qiaonan. So did his four siblings and then his two sons.

“The classrooms my sons studied in were the same ones I used,” said the allied educator. “I’d tell them how I was distracted as the classroom overlooked the field and I’d watch people playing. My sons told me they have the same problem.”

As for the new name of the merged school, he said: “I’m sure MOE has its reasons for choosing Angsana.”

Primary 6 pupil Lim Jiexin, who was Qiaonan’s vice-head prefect this year, shook her head when asked what she thought of Angsana, which will occupy the Griffiths building. “Why do they have to use that? They should choose a better name.”

Mr Chin Harn Tong, former senior parliamentary secretary (Home Affairs), who taught in Qiaonan from 1957 to 1961 – when it was known as Kiau Nam School – also said Angsana did not resonate with him.

The 76-year-old said: “Anything other than the Qiaonan name doesn’t mean much to me.”

Griffiths, first known as Towner Road School, was renamed after Welsh politician James Griffiths, the British secretary for the colonies at the time, formally opened the school in June 1950.

In 1982, it merged with Balestier Girls’ to form Moulmein Primary. Six years later, when it moved to Tampines, it returned to being Griffiths. Mrs Tan believes the school’s link to Singapore’s British past is worth preserving. “This is an important part of our history,” she said.

Teacher Eadelin Toh, 24, who graduated from Griffiths in 2002, said: “It is definitely sad. Next time when I tell people I’m from Griffiths Primary, nobody will know about it any more.”

Architectural and urban historian Lai Chee Kien, whose alma mater Birkhill Primary was merged with Queenstown Primary and took the latter’s name, said the loss of school names was a shame as “the name alone can engender pride and identity”.

Names are also constant reminders of one’s roots and identity, said Dr Yeo Kang Shua, honorary secretary of the Singapore Heritage Society. “Certain names also have historical referencing, as in the case of Qiaonan and Griffiths,” he said.

He wondered if Angsana was “deliberately” chosen so as not to favour one side. “It is challenging and tricky to come up with a name which reflects the histories of both schools,” he said.

Since news of the merger broke in February, former staff and pupils of both schools have found time to visit and take photographs.

Said Ms Toh, who went to Griffiths last Saturday with her ex-schoolmates: “We just want to have something to remember the school by.”

Ex-Qiaonan pupil Dezmon Tan, 34, rounded up a few of his classmates to go back on Nov 1. They brought with them a time capsule they had made in their primary school days but never opened.

“We started the time capsule in the school, so we wanted to open it there,” the interior designer said. Inside were his protractor, pencil and sharpener from 23 years ago.

“A lot of memories, definitely. They can erase the Qiaonan name from the school directory, but they cannot erase it from my memory.”

List of shut schools is online hit

Ms Fiona Seah’s blog is better known for her reviews of beauty products. But it has now become a place to pay homage to schools which are no longer around.

The 24-year-old’s interest was piqued when she read that several schools, including Qiaonan Primary and Griffiths Primary, were going to be merged.

She then found out that her parents’ primary schools – Outram Primary and Alexandra Estate Primary – had also been closed. After almost three months of research, she published three long blog posts from July to October on more than 60 schools, complete with old photographs – from class pictures to report books.

They have become her best- read entries to date.

“I searched for the schools’ alumni groups on Facebook and read old news articles on the NewspaperSG website,” said the third-year communications student at the Nanyang Technological University.

Nuggets of information include how Membina Primary School in Tiong Bahru – it closed in 1996 after opening in 1975 – was the first to get a contemporary design under the Education Ministry’s School Building Programme.

And how Pearl’s Hill School, established in 1881, was once Singapore’s tallest primary school when it moved to Chin Swee Road.

It was not easy digging up the history, said Ms Seah.

“Many of the schools cannot be found online any more, probably because they closed so long ago,” she said. “There were no Facebook groups by former students.”

For instance, she was unable to find out more about Whitley Primary School, which stood where the Whitley Detention Centre is now. Still, her posts at caused quite a stir of nostalgia online.

“Some ex-students will e-mail me to try and reconnect with their schoolmates, or provide me with more information about the closed schools,” she said.

Ms Seah, who attended St Anthony’s Primary and Hillgrove Secondary, both in Bukit Batok, said: “It is a pity that once schools close, they are gone forever. I hope to let people remember these schools through my blog.”

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CNA’s “FootPrints” on Eurasians

CNA footprints eurasians

A series of documentaries highlighting the heritage of the four major races in Singapore, this episode illustrates the stories of the unique race of Eurasians, a community embracing the dilemma and adventures of two worlds, Europe and Asia. In this episode, Katong area was featured heavily here about how the Eurasian community helped to build up this estate with churches and schools.

The children of two empires, Europe and Asia, the Eurasians were among the first to have laid their footprints in Singapore. But as Singapore’s Eurasian community diminishes, tales of its storied culture buried beneath the sands of time are begging to be told.

Through their journey of heartbreaks and triumphs, we relive the glory days of the past and unravel their tales of resilience.


Heritage in Chung Cheng High School Gazetted

A rich heritage in the arts and the spirit of “yin shui si yuan” – the Chinese saying for remembering one’s roots – are qualities Chung Cheng High School will celebrate to mark its 75th anniversary.

As part of the festivities, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday officiated at a ceremony to gazette its administration building and the entrance arch of its main campus as a combined national monument.

The two structures are part of the Chung Cheng family’s collective memory, principal Pang Choon How of Chung Cheng High School (Main) said yesterday.

The administration building, designed in the Chinese National style, has been the school’s “heartbeat”, he added.

It was completed in 1968, with funds raised over 20 years. Officially opened by former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, the building housed the largest auditorium in Singapore at the time.

Mr Pang said the building has housed, over the years, performing arts and sports activities, the old library and, today, the school’s heritage gallery.

He praised the forefathers for the legacy and their vision, foresight and perseverance.

The administration building and the arch will be Singapore’s 66th national monument. It joins nine other school buildings which have also been preserved.

Urban planner and chairman of the Centre for Liveable Cities Liu Thai Ker, a Chung Cheng alumnus, said the gazetting shows the Government recognises the importance of historical buildings.

“The architectural style is quite distinctly Chinese. Recognising it is reinforcing the importance of respect for tradition.”

Also celebrated yesterday was the school’s rich cultural history and its reputation for grooming a pantheon of artistic talents from the late 1940s to 1960s. PM Lee opened the new Lim Tze Peng art gallery, named after the artist and Cultural Medallion winner who donated some 100 artworks to his alma mater.

Mr Lim, 94, said it was an honour to give back. He was from a poor family, and the school had let him study for free and even given him a job at the school office.

“Chung Cheng loves me and I love my alma mater, too,” he said in Mandarin.

He hopes his works will inspire students to be interested in art.

Dr Liu, 76, had been tutored by Mr Lim in art and calligraphy when he was in school. His father, pioneer artist Liu Kang, had also taught there. Reminiscing about the vibrant art and Chinese drama scene, Dr Liu said: “There was a strong emphasis on history, culture and tradition.

“It became part of the overall ambience of Chung Cheng.

More options for expats in new international schools

When Britain’s Dulwich College opens its doors here in a few months, it will already have waiting lists for some classes.

Gems World Academy Singapore, also opening this year, has launched more classes for certain grade levels.

The new entrants to the international school scene here will join at least three others which started operations or opened additional campuses here in the past five years: Stamford American International School, the Canadian International School and the United World College of Southeast Asia.

Others, such as the Lycee Francais de Singapour (LFS), the German European School Singapore and the Overseas Family School have plans to add campuses or move to larger premises within the next three years.

At French School LFS, demand has grown so much that the current campus at Serangoon had to be extended three times since 1999.

Stamford American has grown from 76 to 2000 over students. EDB estimated that there are more than 30 international schools here. These schools have about 40,000 students as of last year.

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Chung Cheng High School

Chung Cheng High School (Chinese: 中正中学) is a Special Assistance Plan (SAP) secondary school in Singapore. It was opened in 1939 at Kim Yam Road by Aw Boon Haw and other businessmen. It started as an all-boys school but became a co-ed school after World War II.

The school is named after Chiang Kai-shek, President of the Republic of China from 1948 to 1975, who is also known as Chiang Chung-cheng.

Chung Cheng High School has a branch school, now known as Chung Cheng High School (Yishun) located at Yishun St. 61. The main school is now located at 40–56 Goodman Road. Both schools are affiliated to Nanyang Junior College. Chung Cheng High School (Main) is renowned for its lake, known as the Zhongzheng Lake (中正湖); its size has been reduced by about two-thirds by several school-expansion programmes since the 1950s. The recent phase of upgrading cost Chung Cheng High School (Main) around $70 million, and saw the renovation of several buildings, such as the Administration Building. The new extension is built on a portion of the lake, with part of the building extending into the lake. The main building has the auditorium which was the largest in the whole Southeast Asia region when it was opened.

Chung Cheng High school (Main) was accorded SAP status in 1979, and achieved autonomous status in 1996 for consistently good O-level results. The school was placed in Band 1 for the recent school ranking exercise 2007. The founding principal, Zhuang Zhulin, was also Principal of Nanyang University. In 2010, the school was awarded with the School Excellence Award, the highest award in the MOE Masterplan of Awards. It serves as a mark of distinction for schools that have achieved excellence in both academic and non-academic outcomes.

Dunman High School


Dunman High School (DHS) (formerly known as Dunman Government Chinese Middle School) is an autonomous co-educational secondary school in Singapore offering the Integrated Programme. It has always been the top co-educational secondary school in Singapore in terms of academic results.

In 2009 the school moved back to the Kallang campus, which has been expanded to seven hectares, making it one of the largest government schools in Singapore in physical area.

Its Chinese name Démíng (德明) is a transliteration of “Dunman”. The meaning of its name in Chinese is derived from a line in the Book of Rites (大学之道,在明明德) which is a statement that has influenced the Emperors of the Han, Tang and Song dynasties in Imperial China. It can be roughly translated as “the Dao (path) to the greatest learning lies in understanding the brightest virtues”.

On 14 October 1956, in the midst of the Chinese middle schools riots, the Ministry of Education established the predecessor of Dunman High School, Kallang West Government Chinese Middle School, along with other schools like River Valley High School.

In the 1956 riots, Chinese middle-school students who subscribed to the communist ideology staged sit-ins and demonstrations, disrupted classes, and in effect shut their schools down. The function of the newly established Kallang West Government Chinese Middle School was to allow students who had no wish to be embroiled in communism to have a place to study.The premises of a newly built primary school at Mountbatten Road were loaned, and the initial enrolment included about 100 boys from The Chinese High School,with 10 teachers. In December 1957 the school moved to Dunman Road and was renamed Dunman Government Chinese Middle School.

In 1979, the school was selected to be one of the nine Special Assistance Plan (SAP) secondary schools. The school was renamed “Dunman High School” and began to offer both English and Chinese languages at the first-language level. When the Music Elective Programme (MEP) was introduced by the MOE in 1982, DHS was selected to implement the programme for musically gifted students.

In 1990, the school expanded its physical area by taking over the neighbouring former premises of Dunman Secondary School at Dunman Road. It then became a single-session school (previously the school was divided into the “morning session” and “afternoon session” so that two classes of students could share a classroom). It was one of six schools to go autonomous in 1994. The school moved to its current location in Tanjong Rhu on 27 May 1995. It was made the 7th Gifted Education Programme centre in Singapore in 1997.

Tanjong Katong Secondary School

Tanjong Katong Secondary School, affectionately known as TK, is an autonomous co-educational school located in Katong. Before its autonomous status, the school was named by the Ministry of Education (MOE) as the ‘Best Non-Independent and Non-Autonomous Secondary School’ in Singapore. TK was presented the School Excellence Award in 2007. This is the most prestigious and highest status of awards presented by MOE to schools in Singapore. The school celebrated its Golden Jubilee – ’50 years of establishment’ in 2006, with Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong as the Guest-of-Honour.

The school was founded in 1956 as Tanjong Katong Technical School (TKT), enrolling only male students. At first it occupied a plot of swampy marsh next to the river Tanjong Katong. The address of 369 Tanjong Katong Road was among a belt of upper-middle suburban housing and old Joo Chiat and Katong shophouses nearby. Its early years were rocky as there was a common misconception about technical schools that only less-academically inclined boys attended. Nevertheless, the school was considered the top technical school then. In 1969 TKT began to take in female students.

The added competition of neighbouring secondary schools in the Katong area also meant that TKT had to fare better academically as most families had originally automatically sent their children to the nearest school. The option of having Pre-U classes helped and the school population soared to an all-time high of 5000 in 1979.

For some years the school was called Tanjong Katong Secondary Technical School. In 1993 the school was renamed Tanjong Katong Secondary School because TKT was losing its technical focus and was focusing on offering mainstream curriculum like Humanities and Science.

In 1996, the school took over the premises of the neighbouring Tanjong Katong Girls’ School and began operating single-session.

In 1998 the school moved to its new premises at 130 Haig Road. The following year, TK was one of the pioneering schools to be awarded the Sustained Achievement Award when the award was first introduced. The opening ceremony of the new campus was held in 2000. The school became one of the Top 20 Value-Added schools in 2001. In 2003, it was presented with the Sustained Achievement Award for Value-Added. In 2004, the school made headlines when its graduating cohort of students achieved a 98% distinction rate for Chemistry in the GCE ‘O’ Level examinations, the highest ever in Singapore.

In 2004 the school was accorded Autonomous status. Following the new status came the School Distinction Award; the school was one of the pioneer 12 schools to be given the award. Another addition that year was the presentation of Singapore Quality Class status in recognition of the efficient organisation of the school. The academic curriculum in the school was recognised when it received the Best Practice Award for Teaching and Learning. Other areas were recognised with the achievements of Sustained Achievement Awards for Physical Fitness, Uniformed Groups and Value-Added.

In 2006 the school celebrated its Golden Jubilee. Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong joined in the celebration as the Guest-of-Honour. The school was presented the Sustained Achievement Award for Aesthetics and Best Practice Award for Student All-Round Development. The school band, Tanjong Katong Band, won the Best Display Band of The Year award for 10 years running, a feat no other secondary school in Singapore has achieved.

TK was presented the School Excellence Award in 2007. This is the most prestigious and the highest status of awards given by MOE. The school made headlines again as it is the 8th secondary school to be presented the award, alongside many top schools in Singapore. In the year 2007, the inaugural “Model Class Award” was awarded to Class 4C.

Tao Nan School

Tao Nan is probably the most popular primary school in the District 15. With rich heritage, top ranking and reputation, it has been sought after by parents who seeks to volunteer in the school or register a residence within 1 km of the neighbourhood. Below is an excerpt of the history behind this well known Singapore education institute.


Tao NanTaonan school map

Excerpt from Infopedia

One of Singapore’s oldest primary schools, Tao Nan School was established on 18 November 1906 with financing from the Hokkien Huay Kuan. It was the one of the first six modern Chinese schools to be set up in Singapore. Originally located at an ornate building at Armenian Street, the school moved to the Marine Parade neighbourhood in 1982. The original school building at Armenian Street now houses the Peranakan Museum.

Early history
The establishment of Tao Nan School was initiated by Tan Boo Liat, great-grandson of entrepreneur and philanthropist Tan Tock Seng. It gained support from Hokkien merchants and was aided by the Singapore Hokkien Association (Hokkien Huay Kuan). Chen Baochen, purportedly a tutor of the last Qing Emperor Puyi, was credited with naming the school Daonan Xuetang or “Tao Nan Study Hall”. Tan Kim Ching’s residence at Siam House, opposite St Andrew’s Cathedral along North Bridge Road, served as the temporary location of the school. The first enrolments numbered between 90 and 100 students but this number tripled within the first three months.

Initially admitting only Hokkien students, in 1909 Tao Nan became the first modern Chinese school in Singapore to accept students from different dialect groups in order to increase cohesiveness within the Chinese community. Its curriculum was aimed at promoting Chinese culture and appreciating Chinese values, with lesson centred on Confucian classics, history and geography. In 1916, it became the first school to turn away from dialects and use Mandarin as the medium of instruction.

Tao Nan School
Construction of a school building was proposed by industrialist Tan Kah Kee. A plot of land at Armenian Street was purchased with $10,000 donated by sugar baron Oei Tiong Ham in 1910. As President of the School Board, Tan Kah Kee embarked on a donation drive to finance the building project. The drive raised $40,000. The neoclassical school building with features of the French Renaissance was completed in March 1912. The school moved from North Bridge Road to Armenian Street and was renamed Daonan Xuexiao or “Tao Nan School”, according to a directive from China’s Ministry of Education.

English lessons were introduced in 1914. The school subsequently changed its medium of instruction to Mandarin in 1916, making it the first school in Singapore to turn from dialects. It was closed during the Japanese Occupation but was reopened two months after the Japanese surrender. It became a government-aided school in 1958 and improved its standard of English by hiring more English teachers and allotting more time to the subject.

In 1957, Tao Nan School became a government-aided school and the time allocation for English lessons was increased. The Urban Renewal Programme of 1971 moved numerous families from the city to the suburbs. This led to a decline in student population in Tao Nan until 1976, when the Hokkien Huay Kuan decided that Tao Nan be moved to the suburbs to cater to the population there.

Recent developments
Construction at the new site in Marine Parade began in 1980 and by the following year, the building was ready. After 76 years in the city, Tao Nan moved to Marine Parade in 1982. In 1983, the new school building was declared officially open by then Defence Minister Goh Chok Tong. In 1990, the school was selected for the Special Assistance Programme (SAP). Since then, it has established itself as a school providing a well-balanced Chinese and English education.

The original school building at Armenian Street was refurbished as the Asian Civilisation Museum in 1996. In 1998, the building was gazetted as a national monument by the Preservation of Monuments Board as a reflection of the social and cultural roots of early Chinese immigrants in Singapore. In 2005, the building was redeveloped to house the Peranakan Museum.

Tao Nan School graduates include prominent public figures such as philanthropist Lee Kong Chian and former Minister of State Ow Chin Hock. Pan Shou, Singapore’s award-winning Chinese calligrapher, was also an ex-principal at the old Tao Nan School.

Lim Siew Yeen & Renuka M.