The origins of St Anthony’s Convent – which was known as the St Anthony’s Girls’ School at the time of its establishment until 1906 – could be traced to August 1879 when Father José Pedro Sta Anna de Cunha of St Joseph’s Church (Portuguese Mission) set up St Anna’s School for the children of poor parishioners who could not afford school fees. The school, located in a two-storey shophouse on Middle Road, began with only three teachers and six students. In February 1886, St Anna’s School was renamed St Anthony Boys’ and Girls’ School after a new school building was constructed on Middle Road, using funds from the Portuguese Mission, government subsidies as well as public donations.
In May 1894, St Anthony’s Girls’ School was formed with 73 students after it separated from the boys’ school. The girls’ school would come under the Canossians – a Catholic mission known to provide service to the poor and disadvantaged – when four Canossian Sisters arrived from Macau to run the school at the request of the Portuguese Mission in Singapore. The Canossian Sisters turned the girls’ school into a place that provided refuge and shelter to the poor and neglected. In 1895, the sisters set up an orphanage and boarding facilities within the premises of the school. The younger orphans and boarders attended the girls’ school, while their older counterparts learned household skills such as sewing and embroidery.
Over the years, the girls’ school grew in status and size. It became a government-aided school in 1896, and later moved to a new building with 12 classrooms at its current site, following the demolition of the old building in August 1928. By the early 1940s, St Anthony’s Convent was providing local girls with a complete course of education after it opened Junior and Senior Cambridge classes in 1934 and 1935 respectively. In addition, the Canossian Sisters set up a kindergarten for the poor in 1937, and in 1947 turned the afternoon session into a charity school for poor, over-aged and less academically inclined students.
1. Canossian Sisters of St. Anthony’s Convent (1994). A century in Singapore: The Canossians, St. Anthony's Convent (p. 4). Singapore: Canossian Sisters of St Anthony’s Convent. Call no.: RSING 372.95957 CEN; St Anthony’s Canossian Secondary School (2014). Our history. Retrieved September 22, 2014, from St Anthony’s Canossian Secondary School website: http://www.stanthonyscanossiansec.moe.edu.sg/about-sacss/the-sacss-story/our-history-2/
2. Canossian Sisters of St. Anthony’s Convent, 1994, p. 4.
3. Canossian Sisters of St. Anthony’s Convent, 1994, p. 4; Leong, W. K. (1979, July 26). Two schools to celebrate their centenary. The Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
4. Canossian Sisters of St. Anthony’s Convent, 1994, p. 4.
5. Canossian Sisters of St. Anthony’s Convent, 1994, p. 4.
6. Canossian Sisters of St. Anthony’s Convent, 1994, p. 5.
7. Canossian Sisters of St. Anthony’s Convent, 1994, p. 5.
8. Canossian Sisters of St. Anthony’s Convent, 1994, p. 6.
9. Canossian Sisters of St. Anthony’s Convent, 1994, pp. 6–7.
10. Canossian Sisters of St. Anthony’s Convent, 1994, p. 7.
The information in this article is valid as at 2014 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.