The Chinese High School (华侨中学; Huaqiao zhongxue) was established on 21 March 1919 at 15 Niven Road with an enrolment of 78 students, following a call by businessman Tan Kah Kee to establish a secondary school for overseas Chinese. It became the first Chinese-medium high school that catered to the needs of overseas Chinese primary-school leavers in Southeast Asia. The school relocated to Bukit Timah Road in 1925. The secondary school merged with the affiliated Hwa Chong Junior College in 2005 after the introduction of the Integrated Programme by the government and is now known as Hwa Chong Institution. The secondary school section has remained an all-boys school since its establishment.
In June 1918, Tan called for the establishment of a high school for overseas Chinese. A meeting was held at the Chinese Chamber of Commerce on 15 June 1918, during which it was decided that the school would be established in Singapore and named Singapore Nanyang Hua Chiao Middle School (新加坡南洋华侨中学校; Xinjiapo nanyang huaqiao zhongxuexiao). At the same time, a board of directors, led by Tan and merchant Lim Nee Soon, was set up to oversee the collection of public donations for the establishment of the school. A piece of land at 15 Niven Road was subsequently bought by the board for 50,000 Straits dollars to serve as the school’s site. The Bukit Timah site was later purchased by the board for 83,000 Straits dollars as they felt the quiet environment there would be more conducive for study.
During its early years, the school relied heavily on public donations for its operations. Businessman and philanthropist Aw Boon Haw, a member of the board from 1928 to 1930, donated a large sum of money for the construction of the teachers’ lodgings, which was named Hu Bao Lou (虎豹楼). Other well-known philanthropists who contributed to the school include Tan himself who paid off many of the school’s debts and also contributed to the school budget. Lee Kong Chian, another businessman and philanthropist, donated $25,000 toward the construction of the school’s science block, which was completed in 1940. Lee became chairman of the board after Tan’s resignation in 1934.
During the Japanese Occupation (1942–1945), the school premises were taken over by the Kempeitai, the Japanese military police. After the war, the school continued to expand its facilities through public donation drives so as to cater to its expanding student population. Additions include a canteen, classrooms, science laboratories, sports facilities, rooms for club activities and a library. In the 1950s and 1960s, The Chinese High School was one of the Chinese-medium schools whose students were involved in demonstrations and protests.
In 1978, the school became one of nine Special Assistance Plan schools that focused on producing bilingual students who are proficient in both Mandarin and English. It became one of three independent schools in 1988, enabling the school to enjoy greater autonomy. In the 1980s, the school was characterised by development in three domains: physical redevelopment of the campus and restructuring of the administrative working order and processes; establishment of the Pupil Development unit to oversee the holistic development of students; and the evolution of new curricular (academic and non-academic) initiatives. In 1980, the Humanities Programme was established, followed by the Art Elective Programme (1984) and the Science Research Programme (1988). This trend continued into the 1990s and 2000s, with the establishment of the Language Elective Programme (1990), Gifted Education Programme (1993), Integrated Programme (2004), Bicultural Studies Programme (2005), Science and Mathematics Talent Programme (2006), Integrated Boarding Programme (2009) and the Gifted and Talented Education Programme (2013).
1. The Chinese High School. (1999). Cherishing values, unfolding visions: Celebrating 80 years of quality education (p. 19). Singapore: The Chinese High School. Call no.: RSING 373.5957 CHE; Hwa Chong Institution. (2015). Contact us. Retrieved from Hwa Chong Institution website: http://www.hci.edu.sg/contact; Anniversary. (1958, March 21). The Straits Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Leong, W. K. (1996, March 17). Tower of strength stands test of time. The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
2. 华侨中学 [Huaqiao zhongxue]. (1984). 新加坡南洋华侨中学创校六十五周年纪念 : 李光前先生铜像揭幕礼纪念特刊 [Souvenir magazine on the unveiling ceremony of the bust of the late Datuk Lee Kong Chian in commemoration of the 65th anniversary of the Chinese High School; Xinjiapo huaqiao zhongxue chuangxiao liushiwuzhounian jinian: Lee guang qian xiansheng tongxiang jiemuli jinian tekan] (pp. 11, 20). 新加坡: 华侨中学 [Xinjiapo: Huaqiao zhongxue]. Call no.: Chinese RCLOS 373.5957 SOU; Liew, P. L., & Nah, W. K. (2013). Living with passion & leading with compassion: Celebrating Hwa Chong’s 95th anniversary and a decade of the Integrated Programme. In W. J. Chun, et al. (Eds.) A borderless and passion-driven learning institution: Lessons from Hwa Chong’s future school 2008–2013 (p. 38). Singapore: Hwa Chong Institution. Call no.: RSING 373.5957 BOR; Arlina Arshad. (2004, August 1). Welcome to Hwa Chong Institution. The Straits Times, p. 18. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. 华侨中学 [Huaqiao zhongxue], 1984, pp. 12–13; Sharp, I., & Koh, Y. P. (1978, December 13). Chinese High’s name gives away its roots. The Straits Times, p. 14. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
4. 华侨中学 [Huaqiao zhongxue], 1984, pp. 11–12; New science block $25,000 building now completed. (1940, June 18). The Straits Times, p. 11. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5. Liew & Nah, 2013, pp. 38–39.; The Straits Times, 17 Mar 1996, p. 2.
6. Expelled 200 Singapore students. (1967, August 15). The Straits Times, p. 1; Another flare-up as youths stage midnight march. (1967, May 15). The Straits Times, p. 5; Students over-run two big schools. (1956, October 11). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; The Straits Times, 17 Mar 1996, p. 2.
7. The Chinese High School, 1999, pp. 32, 38, 44, 46.
8. Liew & Nah, 2013, pp. 38–40; Three schools to go independent next year. (1987, June 23). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
The information in this article is valid as at Sep 2015 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.